Slammin Vinyl presents:
Westfest
The Bath and West Showground
Shepton Mallet
Somerset
Saturday 29th October 2005

After staging the phenomenal event at the Alexandra palace earlier in the year Slammin Vinyl presents Westfest at The Bath and West Showground in Shepton Mallet. Westfest was a collaboration with 6 other promoters featuring various styles of dance music from Hardcore to Drum and Bass, Hardhouse and Old Skool to cater for various tastes. This event was definitely not one to be missed, especially considering that the main arena featured a mixture of music styles. In addition Westfest also played host to the annual Hardcore Awards the third event of its type run by Hardcore Heaven.

Shepton Mallet has a massive reputation in Rave folklore with past promoters including the legendary Fantazia and Dreamscape using this historic venue.
I’ve never been to Shepton Mallet and it’s one of the venues that I’ve always wanted to visit as my original raving crew went there for their first rave back in the summer of ’98 just before I started raving.

Having already travelled down to nearby Yeovil on the weekend, the journey to Shepton Mallet didn’t take too long and was only a short 30 minute drive. This was a tactical move as the Bath and West Showground is about 100 miles from Birmingham and I didn’t really fancy the journey back home straight after the rave.

Having traveled through the most rural parts of England we arrived at the site and parked up in the car park on the field outside the venue. We didn’t queue up till after 8.30. There wasn’t a massive queue waiting to get inside and we was greeted at the reception by both Michael and Grant from Slammin Vinyl.

Once in the first warehouse we had to queue again this time to get searched this took a bit of time and we received a quite a thorough search from the bouncers. The security staff resembled an SAS / Swat team tooled up with body vests and hand cuffs. No messing around with these guys! Once through the searching warehouse we carried onto the main building which was huge with a massive corridor running through the middle segregating the various arenas.

Set times were located on boards outside the various buildings and we found that there was no dedicated Hardcore or Drum and Bass room as they were mixing up both styles across 3 arenas. I thought this was only going to happen in the main room.

We located the 2nd arena that was big, from the back it was hard to see where the front stage was as this room was huge! The arena itself is quite amusing as by day it functions as a cattle shed. DJ Kickback was on with MC Fugitive and the room was rammed with lots of people raving away and the production was wicked with massive video projection screens at the front. With it being so rammed it was quite hard to get to the front of the stage and there wasn’t much space to have a bounce, though I did find a spot.

Kickback played a party set to get things rocking as he dropped ‘I adore’, ‘Fly with you’ and ‘Electric’. After this it was time for the my first Drum and Bass set tonight as it was the turn of Bad Company’s DJ Fresh on the decks along with Shabba. Whilst these guys were on the crowd faces changed as people looked onto find another arena playing Hardcore as the Drum and Bass crew took over. DJ Fresh started his set with his mega-mix of self produced tracks featuring tunes such as ‘The Nine, ‘Tombraider,’ and ‘Floodlight’. Fresh also played Potential Badboy’s ‘Girl’ which went down really well with the crowd and, even at this early stage, the arena was like a sauna!

After this set I headed to the main arena, wow is all I can say, I was absolutely gob smacked by the sheer size of this space, it was gigantic! I could never have believed the stories my friends had told me until I actually stepped foot in here and witnessed it myself. It was enormous. I stood looking from the back and all I could see was the amazing sight of hundreds of heads dancing to the music!

Again the production was amazing with a massive green laser showering the Ravers. At the front of the stage was a barrier with a massive video screen which featured the DJ’s whilst they were on the decks. Either side of the stage were massive speaker stacks featuring the Funktion-One sound system which, despite its position at the front of the arena, was really loud. The main arena had the feel of being in a massive concert!

The Raver Baby duo of Breeze and Styles were on stage, featuring the MC² duo of Storm and Whizzkid. This was an electric set with the DJ’s playing plenty of Raver Baby favourites to keep the crowd bouncing. Breeze and Styles played ‘Dark like Vader’, ’Save me’, a new remix of DJ Demo’s ‘I got a feelin’ and ‘I will be’. The only let down of this set was that there was a power cut to the lighting rig, not once but twice, leaving it totally dark for a few minutes before order was restored.

Storm and Whizzkid excelled on the main stage, as they must have buzzed seeing a massive sea of people, especially as it has been years since the actual main stage was used to host Hardcore (the last being Dreamscape 29 in the summer of ‘98). Storm and Whizzkid were hyping up the crowd into an utter frenzy, working off each others lyrics and getting the crowd to join in. As this event was the Hardcore Heaven awards this set also featured the first presentation of the awards, Breeze and Styles won best producer and best track for ‘Slide away’, which they ended their set with.

After the Raver Baby duo, it was the first Drum and Bass set in the main arena from the guv’nor Andy C. Andy started off the hour with the familiar ‘Voodoo people’ remix by Pendulum which went down well with the Ravers as it has had plenty of commercial radio airplay. It was only halfway though this track that Skibadee turned up to get things rolling on the mic.

Andy was tremendous on the decks using the mixer to full advantage, teasing and double dropping tunes throughout the set. Playing tunes such as ‘Feelings’and ’Mysterons’ whilst teasing in ’26 bass’, ‘Turbulence’ and the monster hit, especially for the Halloween weekend, ‘Black tarantula’. Skibadee was hyping up the crowd with his dog barking, scrappy doo, and his infectious laugh, with plenty of Ravers reciting his lyrics. Skiba also took the opportunity to showcase his new lyric which I remember from the quality street advert -‘Thank you very much for being a Raver, thank you very much….’ interesting and very catchy.

Well, next up was the boss from Raver Baby and HTID Hixxy along with MC Whizzkid. At this point I decided to have a wander of the venue. Whilst leaving the main arena I found that there was quite a bottleneck growing at the exit / entrance leading to the main corridor where the merchandise and entrances to the other arenas were located. It was raining quite hard outside as I found the third arena which again featured a mixture of Hardcore and Drum and Bass though this time I was quite disappointed with the size of the room.

I headed back to the main arena and located the bar at the very back, it was quite odd that an event sponsored by Stella Artois wasn’t selling any Stella Artois. Drinks weren’t cheap and it was 4 tokens for a beer with each token costing £1.

Back to the action and Hixxy was on playing plenty of fresh new material including a new tune from Gammer featuring MC Storm which had the 'Just Accept’ lyric but with a dark and grimy edge. Hixxy also played a remix of ‘Out of Space’ which got the crowd singing along with ‘free’ at last’ and ‘Tantric’. Whizzkid was MCing for Hixxy and keeping the crowd hyped with his beat boxing and sing along lyrics. At the end of the set Hixxy picked up the 'Outstanding Contribution to Hardcore' and 'Best Record Label' awards.

Next came a Drum and Bass set featuring the legendary man from Metalheadz - DJ Goldie who was sporting his own Metalheadz American football shirt and a fancy set of in ear headphones to DJ with. I was quite looking forward to seeing Goldie especially as he had MC Fearless accompanying him. I was not disappointed one bit, as the set was truly awesome with Goldie pushing the Funktion-One system playing some really deep basslines and rolling tunes. I guess he was also showcasing material off the forthcoming Metalheadz album ‘The Winter of Content' as I didn’t recognise many of the tunes that he played. Goldie played a few old favourites such as ‘the Egyptian horn track’ sampling 'Age of Empires'

One of the things that I noticed was a surprising number of Hardcore heads staying in here and enjoying themselves whilst this set was on, as I guess it’s not that often you get to catch someone like Goldie at a Rave like this. Fearless was immense on the mic, hyping up the crowd with his lyrics and rolling crowd favourites one after another. He was also briefly joined by fellow MC’s Skibadee and Foxy.

Goldie was on for nearly 90 minutes because Mark EG didn’t turn up which I felt was particularly odd as Mark EG was up for best hard dance award. I wasn’t going to complain though as this set from Goldie was truly awesome and definitely different. Goldie dropped the ‘97 roller from Nasty Habits aka Doc scott ‘Shadow boxing’ which went down really well especially on the Funktion One system and in front of a massive crowd like this. I’ve not heard Shadow Boxing being played out in a very long time, Big up! Goldie also dropped ‘True romance’ and ‘Dubplate’ before ending the set with his oldskool classic from the Rufige Cru ‘Terminator’

Seeing as Mark EG wasn’t going to show DJ Supreme and MC Knight of the old Fusion and South coast crew were on briefly, playing some oldskool Hardcore just like Supreme once did here in the old Dreamscape days at Shepton Mallet. MC Storm also joined MC Knight on the mic. This was a surprise set and I really enjoyed it as I’m a massive fan of Supreme especially with all the work he done for Fusion and labels such as Heccttech, RSR and Hectic. Supreme played plenty of 95-96 stompers such as ‘Rock This Place’, ’Ravestation' and ‘Broken wings’ before finishing up with ‘I believe’ from DJ Stompy, an amazing tune especially with lots of people singing along!!!

The penultimate hour and final Drum and Bass set in the main arena came courtesy of DJ Friction. This guy is truly awesome and ever since I heard his set at the Drum and Bass awards last December he hasn't failed to impress me one bit. Friction’s selection and mixing is awesome and he fully deserved his title of best newcomer DJ without a doubt! He has made such a massive impact in such a short space of time really, with the successful Bingo beats album he mixed with Zinc and the remix of ‘R-Type’ he produced with Frenzic.

Friction had the New Breed MC’s for his set Eksman, Foxy and Herbsman all going back to back with one another. The crowd were really enjoying the show and the MC’s were having a wicked time on stage. The MCing was really off the hook from all 3 guys, at one point both Foxy and Eksman were using two mics to MC with!. With Foxy’s classic ‘Who wants a revolution??’ and Eksman’s ‘Semi automatic…’ you could clearly see why Eksman won best lyrical MC at the Awards.

Friction's selection was heavy as he dropped plenty of favourites, such as a new remix of ‘Square off’, ‘Big Bad and Heavy’ (The Burial remix), ‘Feelings’, ‘X-Ray’, ‘Plastic soul’ and ‘True Romance VIP’ whilst teasing some oldskool classsics like ‘Special Dedication’, ‘It’s Jazzy’ and ‘Alien girl’.

The final set of the night was from the Raver’s champions Sy and Storm, and both Sy and Storm retained their titles in the awards. Sy was voted once again Best DJ and Storm won for a third time best MC. We didn’t hang around too long during this set and decided to head off.

Overall I had a fantastic time, the venue was really amazing and the main stage really did blow me away. I knew it was big but never knew how big it was! It really felt like being at a concert I mean this venue is oldskool it’s really underground and is proper grimy, the 2nd arena was massive too but in comparison to the main stage arena 2 was like a shoebox!!
There were plenty of Ravers out here and plenty of up for it people, many of them dressed up in outfits as it was Halloween weekend. Lots of crazy characters in the crowd!

Some people didn’t like the mixture of styles in the arenas but personally I thought it went down really well in the main arena. When it was spread across arena’s 2 and 3 though it didn’t really work well, especially arena 3 which had DJ’s such as Brisk, Scott Brown and Sharkey playing in what felt like a broom cupboard.

The impression I, and many others, got from the flyer was that the main arena was to be mixed up and the 1Nation and Hardcore Heaven rooms would stick to their own style of music. I think the promoters point of view was that, given the unequal sizes of arena 2 and arena 3, people were going to be very unhappy with which music style got the smaller space. Arena 3 was a shoe box in comparison to arena 2 so you can imagine that it would have been a hard decision for the promoters to make.

The entrances between the main arena and the corridor leading to the 2nd and 3rd arenas didn’t help too much as they were both being used as an exit and entrance causing a bottleneck throughout the night. At one point the security weren’t allowing people into the main arena via either entrance!

It’s a shame as I always remembered the way that in the old days events such as Helter-Skelter and Dreamscape used to have various styles in the main arena with no segregation and this mix up of styles was one of the main reasons why I came to the event.
I really hate the segregation of having one arena dedicated for one style as having various forms of music does open your ears to other styles plus it means I don’t have to keep going from one room to another. I personally enjoy both Hardcore and Drum and Bass for ages there hasn’t really been an event with a variety of different upfront styles in one arena. It has worked with oldskool at events like Flashback and Illusion though. I have to give Slammin massive respect for taking the risk of doing this as no other promoter has done so since the Millennium, 5 years ago.

I’d love to see another event where there is a mix up in styles but from this event I gathered that the scene is clearly more segregated compared to five years ago! The sets in the main arena were truly awesome I couldn’t really fault any of the DJ’s and the MC’s were spot on too keeping everyone hyped up throughout the night!

Shouts to Grant and Michael at Slammin, Storm (big up your status), Whizzkid, Fearless, Hixxy, Breeze and Styles , Friction, Sy, Andy C, Supreme, Ramos, Druid and MC knight,Ben and Katie, MC Ribbz, Zoë, Rude and the Fruit club crew, Smiley, Goldie, Eksman, Logan D, Foxy, Herbsman, Charlie and Vicki (Narni crew).

Massive respects to Shaun, Sykee, Sallie, Matty, Lisa, Sarah, Womble, Dave Quaver, Doug, Craig, Andy, Hiney, Pricey, Brain BK, Steve Uplift, Compulsion, Amy, Wookie and Emma, Jenny at BornHardcore, Dreamscape Forever, Ravernath, Charlie and James, Julie delicious and Annabel, Adam Harris, Gammer, Andrea and John McGuiness, Sharl, Astraboy, Overlode, Flyin', Outburst and Jayne thanks for having us in Yeovil, also to everyone else whose names I don't' know but faces I recognise.

Full list of winners can be found Here

Written by Xtra-C Flashbackin' & Rewindin'
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