Tokyo World is one of Bristol’s most anticipated events in a fairly chocka-block festival calendar. Sprawled over Bristol’s Eastville Park; the festival is an oasis of bass music in a city where bass is as much its lifeblood as its passion. This year though, Tokyo World organisers decided to switch things up and lead the five-year-old day festival into the realms of two-day festivals for the first time. September 23 and 24 saw 20,000 revellers migrate to Eastville Park for a weekend of drum and bass, dubstep, grime, garage and everything else that lives under the wobbly-umbrella of bass music.
Keeping the party going for an extra day was, for me, a tad controversial. Tokyo World isn’t blessed with a bank holiday safety-net for those without the foresight to book the Monday off, and festivals running into the next week are usually reserved for camping festivals. But, after the initial shock, the allure of a bigger lineup took away any misgivings I had. And whilst the slog back to the festival on Sunday was a struggle (there’s something about waking up in your own bed that makes a second day that much harder), Tokyo World’s decision to expand was a successful one. And let’s be honest, any excuse to have one last fling with summer festival season is okay with me.
And let’s be honest, any excuse to have one last fling with summer festival season is okay with me
Walking through the gates on Saturday, it was clear that the festival had taken advantage of this year’s Fresher’s Fairs. Not a negative at all, but it is always a shame to see young’uns going slightly too hard, too soon, which was fairly apparent walking around the park throughout the day. But credit to the on-hand paramedics and security, who seemed to be handling any situations perfectly and without major alarm.
Tokyo World’s organisers obviously pump a lot of time and imagination into the stages, and with five in total – one in each corner – the festival has a great vibe about it. Stage designs included the beach-themed Tropical Paradise stage, a massive boom box, and an active volcano that intermittently spewed fire once the sun went down. And, tellingly, post-festival cries of low volumes were few and far between thanks to some top quality soundsystems and clever site mapping.
tellingly, post-festival cries of low volumes were few and far between thanks to some top quality soundsystems and clever site mapping
This year’s main stage was where Pitch’s Tokyo World began. Barely Legal, after a fairly confusing start due to a last-minute stage swap, fed the crowd with some early afternoon grime, jungle and drum and bass. Hyping the crowd up successfully, 23-year-old Chloe Robinson has a knack for injecting energy into her sets with her evolving sounds – collecting recognition from some killer sets for Boiler Room, Fabric and the international festival circuit (in fact, she was one of our only highlights of last year’s X Music festival).
Next came hip hop royalty Ghostface Killah & Killah Priest who roused some great Wu Tang memories on the main stage, but for us it was off to DieMantle for some harder-hitting sounds. DieMantle, as you could have guessed, is an amalgamation of Bristol-based DJs Die and Dismantle. With a load of drum and bass, break, disco and funk all thrown into the melting pot, the pair put on a show full of energy – one that we were glad to not have missed.
As dusk began to fall, we were in the mood for something more dubby. General Levy, at the Tropical Paradise stage, is a real veteran of UK soundsystem culture, and influenced by jungle and reggae as much as ska, soul, dancehall and hip hop. Providing some seriously weighty noises amongst the tropical foliage, Levy held our attention for the entirety of his set, proving himself yet again as not only a top MC but an impeccable selector.
Providing some seriously weighty noises amongst the tropical foliage, Levy held our attention for the entirety of his set
Unsurprisingly, Wiley was another no show – adding to the number of disappointments tallying up against the artist’s name, including the artist’s out-of-control twitter rant at the Eavis-fam before his Glasto cancellation a few years ago and the recent Wireless Festival fiasco.
Unsurprisingly, Wiley was another no show – adding to the number of disappointments tallying up against the artist’s name
Our Sunday started off slightly later, arriving just in time to catch The Skints at the Vulkano stage, who enjoyed an enthusiastic reception with their feel good sounds and resonating lyrics. Bringing us not just ska and reggae tracks, like Dawn Penn’s No No No, but punk and rock to boot, they were a perfect band to soothe a slightly sore head with a couple of drinks. A bit of a palette cleanser before getting right back into things.
DJ Luck and MC Neat back on the main stage brought us a much-needed classic garage set. Venturing into more recent grime tracks towards the end of their set, the pair turned an early-doors crowd into something more rowdy. With our moods satisfactorily elated, Gentleman’s Dub Club were up next.
The nine-piece are one of the UK’s most popular dub bands and something would be afoot if they did not have their deserving spot on Tokyo World’s dub-leaning Sunday lineup. A lively performance dished out tracks such as High Grade, Music is the Girl I Love and a couple from their most recent album, Dubtopia. The eager audience were also treated to a surprise performance of their forthcoming track with The Nextmen and Gardna, the latter popping up on stage with his typical exuberance.
After losing the next few hours dancing to Mungo’s Hi Fi and a Faithless DJ set – who were, as always, major crowd pleasers – Basement Jaxx’s DJ set was the perfect festival closer. There’s no way you can fault Basement Jaxx, they know how to effortlessly work the crowd and seemed genuinely excited to be spinning some of their own classic tunes, which they had thrown into the mix. It was a pleasant surprise after a slightly after seeing their slightly disappointing set at Bristol’s Motion a couple of years ago, but they made up for it many times over. Left and right peripherals were filled with a throng of dancing and smiling punters having the time of their lives.
genuinely excited to be spinning some of their own classic tunes, which they had thrown into the mix
Filing out of the main gate, sad that not only another magnificent Tokyo World was over, but also because the summer festival season had officially come to a close, taxis were filled with those heading off to Motion’s official after party and the innumerable house parties dotted around Bristol. What a send-off to another undeniably spectacular festival season.
Photos by Dominika Scheibinger.