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The line-up for this year is already sporting some quality names from past and present, especially from the underground techno and electro scenes, and is already promising to be one not to be missed. 808 State, Renegade Soundwave, Kevin Saunderson, DopplereffektUrban TribeVenetian Snares, I-F, Ceephax Acid Crew, DJ Assault, Luke Vibert, Dillinja, and DJ Kentaro are some early additions....and a 3D Rave!

April 24th-26th, Pontins Holiday Park, Camber Sands, Kent

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This is the short review of the festival for Virtual Festivals...

In similar vein to last month’s Bloc weekender, Bang Face cuts out the risk of being spoilt by the Great British weather by taking over a coastal holiday park, and turning it into the mother of all raves. Under normal circumstances, 3 days at a Pontins conjures up images of cheap family holiday hell, but when the entire place is populated by like minded people, all itching to make this the biggest party weekend so far this year, the idea takes on a whole new perspective. Rather than try and be something it’s not though, Bang Face knows who it is aimed at, and doesn’t set it’s expectations too high. Strictly for the hardcore, Bang Face describes itself as Neo Rave Armageddon, and without questioning too much what that is actually supposed to mean, it sounds pretty close! There was certainly some people who looked like they didn’t think they had long left to live, and by the Sunday morning, a few who looked like they had already died and become zombies. Most were showing us what Bang Face is really about though, with high energy party people, sporting white toothed grins, beaming from ear to ear, waving banners and glow sticks in front of the strobing lasers under a sea of crowd surfing inflatables. It is very difficult not to have fun, and with a free goody bag on arrival, and loads of inflatables and glow sticks being handed out all the time, you really get the feeling your ticket money is being spent on you, rather than ending up in some fat cat’s pockets.

Situated on the south east coast just outside of the quaint seaside town of Rye, getting to Camber Sands is probably a bit of a mission for anyone coming from further a field than London. With no direct trains, plus someone deciding to suspend all trains out of Rye for the weekend made the car the only sane option. This, and the increased capacity had a bad effect on the site, and even by 10pm Friday night Security were finding it difficult to find space for everyone’s cars.

Obviously there are certain benefits to having accommodation laid on for you when you arrive at a festival, and the idea of being able to crash in a proper bed, cook your own food, and cart crates of your own booze onto site without having to traipse across the muddy fields to your tent is attractive. And the bonus is you can keep all your beers cold in the fridge all weekend, and sit around outside listening to music without fear of any of it being confiscated by over zealous security. It all sounds great in principle. They even broadcast their own Bang Face TV channels into the chalets so you can see what you’re missing. However, you can’t help but miss the usual festival lushness of rolling fields, green trees and early morning songbirds when they are replaced by flat sands, wind turbines and squawking seagulls – some of which were monsters. The reality is that when you don’t feel like cooking yourself any food after a heavy night, the school canteen style restaurant or the not-so-fast food stall selling fried chicken just doesn’t cut it, and there’s only so many hot-dogs you can eat before you start feeling worse than you did before you realised you needed to eat in the first place. The chalets at Camber Sands are looking really dated now too, but in terms of the festival size and the type of event, it is functional.

The schedule does well to recognise that most have been up ‘til dawn having it, and doesn’t expect everyone to have recovered quick enough or to give up the comfort of their chalet straight away the following day, so music is mainly pumped out from the Queen Vic pub in the afternoon, to all those who’d rather have their beer on tap. Roaming the site provides much more entertainment though, and the way the layout of the chalets shields each row from the next, you get a Notting Hill Carnival style sound clash as you turn each corner with the competition for airwaves sending volumes spiralling upwards. With that and the sun beaming down all weekend, this felt much more like a festival than I’d expected, with people lounging around and chatting rather than confining themselves to their own little space. Once the two main rooms were in full flight again, and they were filled with noisy ravers, the sounds of horns and whistles showed just how much the crowd appreciated the music. As with all good parties, it was the people that made this a success. This is the party Bloc should have been. The only reason it doesn’t get top marks is the emptiness of the two main rooms for a few acts, but when it’s sunny outside…

Let’s make this clear early. Bang Face is not for everyone. If you’re not sure about a weekend of banging noise from the harder end of the electronic music spectrum, and you’re thinking about going to test it out with the premise “It can’t be like that all weekend can it?”, then think again. Bang Face is either hard or fast, or hard and fast, all weekend. From the bass heavy dubstep of Skream, to the tweaking acid of Luke Vibert, from the rinsing drum ‘n’ bass of Noisia, to the relentless bpm overdose of Hellfish’s gabba techno, Bang Face sets out to bring you the best of the most extreme dance music out there. They pride themselves on it. And within that range they do very nicely. For a more rounded festival, but with much of the same, check out Glade.

DJ Assault - booty shaking bass from the Miami bass master

Bizzy B & MC TDK - rinsing breakbeat and jungle set, backed up well by the MC who looked and sounded like he was having a right laugh

Altern8 - faultless mix and selection of classic early 90s rave era tunes

DJ Rubbish – the only one to really get the Queen Vic pumping, even on a Sunday

DJ Kentaro – not the most spectacular set I’ve seen from the turntablist genius, but still jaw dropping, and made all the better with deckside cameras giving you a close up view of the action

Not many to be fair - the withdrawal of Andy Weatherall was disappointing, but at least it meant an unannounced stand in slot for Keith Tenniswood, giving us a great 2 hours of Radioactiveman electro.

The giant inflatable ‘Gabba the Hut’ welcoming you on site.

The opening ceremony included an attempt to get in the Guinness World Record books for the largest ever glow stick.

The pool party is easily one of the most surreal festival events I’ve seen, with quality DJs like DMX Krew and Luna C in their board shorts banging out tunes from a poolside sound system. While the frenzied crowd splash about trying to dance in the water, a giant inflatable acid smiley face gets bounced around from one end to the other. Priceless!

Having spent nearly two hours dancing on one of the podiums for DJ Kentaro and 808 State on the last night, the 20 or so people on top were surprised to see security flashing torches around underneath. Even more surprising was the fact they found someone asleep under there, completely oblivious to everything that was going on around them. The only question was how long they’d been there? …finding people asleep in random places became a bit of a theme actually.

“If in doubt, sit down”

Good advice from one wobbly Bang Facer to another

“You can do whatever you want….this is Bang Face!”

An interrupted answer to the question “Can we get to our chalets through this way?”

Review by Matt Cook

This review was originally published for Virtual Festivals here

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