For its second instalment, the Groove team have upped their game with the artists performing for the après-ski set.
Hosting the UK’s first and only snowsports music festival in the Cairngorm’s, the festival is going from strength to strength. It boasts stages half way up some impressively large mountains as part of the Cairngorm Ski Resort and a larger stage within a one-sided barn for the evening festivities at the Badaguish Outdoor Centre.
A small-scale festival in respect to, say, Rise Festival in France or Snowbombing in Austria, but the big-scale enthusiasm and passion shown by revelers and staff was clear at Groove Cairngorm.
A well-organized festival that you could really feel part of, due to its scale.
There was a diverse crowd, representing Caley, and on fine party form were GCU Snowsports where “taps aff” was not reserved for just the guys! There was friendly staff and security, a couple of quality food trucks, ease of transport throughout the sites (including free shuttle buses from the town of Aviemore) and minimal ques for beverages. If you wanted to get right down the front to see an artist up close and personal, then you would be able to do so also.
Some very minor issues being that there could have been a few more toilet facilities, as it seemed ques did develop here for the mainly female patrons and £4 for a small beer seemed a tad much.
With both acoustic and electronic acts meant this fest was catering for the music fan with a penchant for diverse styles of music. The UK’s highest restaurant the Ptarmigan hosted several acoustic acts. This stage was extra special as you can take in some phenomenal views looking down over Loch Morlich and across to Ben Nevis and Ben Hope. The Day Lodge hosted DJ’s at the same time and notably the boys from Hector’s House raised the temperature on a grey and chilly mountainside.
The main stage situated in a secluded woodland clearing at Badaguish has a special feel. This is where the big names played over the two days.
Friday night gave the crowds Ho-Ro, Indigo Velvet, Horsemeat Disco, Mike Skinner DJ Set and The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club.
The disco divas of Horse Meat Disco pumped the crowd up with some house infused disco before The Streets front man Mike Skinner performed with music ranging from London grime and dubstep, hip-hop like Young M.A’s “OOOUUU” remix ft. 50 Cent and, of course, a couple of Streets classics, such as “Blinded by the lights” (Nero Remix) and his final track “Fit But You Know It”.
Mike was replaced by the formidable Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club, who, after swaggering to Mike’s last track, dropped Marvin Gaye’s “Got to give it up”, but with a funky hip-hop beat more prominent than the original version which had everyone moving and grooving from the off.
We had the pleasure of hearing a wide range of funk and soul such as Rick James – Give It To Me Baby, Jackson 5 – Blame It On The Boogie and an impressive version of “Killing In The Name Of” (originally by Rage Against The Machine) by a band called The Apples. That is definitely worth a listen, if you fancy a jazzy, funky, breakbeat interpretation of a rock classic and, trust me, the remix does the song justice. Another standout track that he played was Marvin Gaye and the Grant Lazlo orchestra “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”. If you haven’t heard this version of Gaye’s mega hit then you definitely should, it is stunning. His farewell song was a strangely enjoyable mix between “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes. Craig Charles is one of those DJ’s that is so overtly passionate about the music that it becomes infectious. Proving his ability in selecting rarities and remixes combined with his on stage showmanship make him a must-see. You could see him sing along, dance around and whip the crowd up all while mixing expertly.
Saturday provided the crowds with Tamzene, Mark Mackenzie, The LaFontaines, Hunter & The Bear, The 2 Bears, Blonde and Basement Jaxx .
The 2 Bears proved popular playing The Ones – “Flawless”, but their highlight was their 2012 track “Bear Hug” sung live by one half of the bears Raf Daddy. Next up was Blonde, represented solely by Adam Englefield, who surpassed expectations of Blonde’s renowned “pop-house” with his fine selection of house tracks not so mainstream, expertly blending old with new.
The headliners on Saturday night were the world-renowned Basement Jaxx. An impressive booking by Groove, the lads kept the energy levels high throughout playing the likes of Slideback & Philippe B – “DANCE!” (Original Mix) their own “Mermaid Of Salinas”, “Red Alert” (Club Mix) and finally “Romeo” which sent the crowd into rapture. The final song of the evening and of the festival was a surreal instrumental cover of Bohemian Rhapsody by a brass band called Chilkali Brass. This prompted a unifying sing along and mass group hugging. So, at the end with the lights up and the warm tones of the brass floating through the air the atmosphere was reminiscent of Christmas time with thoughts of family and loved ones to then realize, at that very moment in time, you were surrounded by both. One half of Basement Jaxx, Felix Buxton had given a short inspirational speech during the set on being happy and living life and loving one another and these words may still have been echoing in the minds of the well-oiled festival goers as they swayed together arms around one another. A fitting end.
The lack of snow during the festival meant many runs were closed and on Saturday closed completely, but these negatives are out-with the organizers control, so it is a testament to all involved with the festival to be able to maintain a fantastic atmosphere and have great musicians perform, including such an impressive and fitting final act in Basement Jaxx.
If this year’s installment is anything to go by then Groove Cairngorm 2018 will be something of note and maybe, just maybe, there might even be some snow!
By Donald Shields.
Image credit to Groove Festival