Giant Steps at Houghton Festival
words: Amit Patel
photos: Miguel Echeverria
videographer: Silvia Gin
music: Blackish Orchestra - Sortez, Les Filles!" (Kay Suzuki remix), BATB 002
The night before we were due to set off for Houghton, excitement and anxiety made it hard to sleep, so it was easy to wake up at dawn and straight away start taking the equipment from inside the garage and onto the roadside in anticipation of the van’s arrival. No sooner had we finished laying out all the gear, did it start to rain. Everything had to be brought back in. And from then on, it didn’t really stop raining. Kiyo cut his hand the moment he placed it on the speaker trolley, and it seemed as if the sight of his blood and the indifferent rain was an omen that, despite our best intentions and forward-planning, the universe was going to give us a testing time.
Hours later, each of us completely soaked, we set off, imploring the skies to clear and the journey be swift. Neither came true. Heavy traffic and heavy rain meant that two hours later, we hadn’t even left the M25. Spending the next 5 days in these conditions was a frightening prospect. Who cares how good the sound system is when you’re soaking wet and freezing cold?
The weather at Houghton was even worse. Sideways rain meant it was impossible for our yurt guys to set up. With no yurt, we had no power, we couldn’t set up the sound system, nor the lights, nor the decorations. Everything in the schedule was pushed back to the next day. Our cherished team of Brilliant Corners staff that had arrived on time expecting to get cracking, had nothing to do. We were cold and slightly heart-broken by how gloomy the weather prospects were. For emotional support we ripped into the wine stash, gulping down Dario Princic’s Pinot Grigio in the dark before going back to our tents, hoping things would be different in the morning.
They were. At 7am we had bright skies and a full coverage of sunshine. The setting of the festival was beautiful, far nicer than any of us had expected or are used to. We took care of the business of setting up with renewed vigor and precision. It was thrilling to see how quickly everything could get done in light of the fact that, for once, we had the right amount of man power. And Guerilla Tape.
We spent some time finding the optimum positioning of the booth and the speakers, looking for the perfect trade-off between giving the DJ the best audio impression, and maximising space on the dancefloor. Donna and Pol spent hours meticulously positioning the palm trees and foliage whilst the lunar lighting was hoisted into position. By 1700 we were ready to roll, and our first visitors started to arrive.
From the first record at around 1730 on Thursday, the music didn’t stop for four days straight, ending in an impromptu back-to-back-to-back closing session at around 3am on Monday morning that was sublime, creating exactly the type of moments we’re striving to experience when we decided at launch Giants Steps. These are magical moments, when people forget who they are, and the message in the music goes straight into their hearts and souls, a shared experience that taps into frequencies beyond the material world and our normal daily lives. A good party is both healing and redemptive and our experience at Houghton proved that. None of this is possible without good sound, and so we’re forever grateful for the support we received from the Analogue Foundation in making our experience at Houghton possible. We can’t wait to do it again…