As predicted, the jam-packed Bank Holiday Creamfields weekend was rife with names from a breadth of dance music genres… and conflicting time slot disputes for those traveling in herds.
Here’s a rundown of my hops across the Daresbury grounds in between mornings spent strolling a surprisingly sunny Liverpool!
Full disclosure: we didn’t make it north in time for Friday. Darned work!
Saturday: Not your Beatles’ Liverpool
Having opted out of camping, mainly due to Creamfields’ infamous “mudfields” reputation despite late August timing, I chose Liverpool as my home base. It’s easy to pre-buy the 45-minute round trip bus tickets from a variety of nearby options as part of your festival pass purchase, and unless you’re doing so for Manchester, you can buy them day-of while queuing.
Taking a decently early Virgin Train up from Liverpool (which happened to be packed with fans heading to a match), I had plenty of time to check out the city before the bus ride into Daresbury. Having arrived right into Liverpool Lime Street, it’s an easy walk through the many shopping centres to arrive at Pier Head. Stunning architecture, old and strikingly new, awaits you. Plus, astonishingly affordable food and drink to fuel up for the fest.
The bus ride is a scenic tour of the city, through to a drop-off point close to the Box Office if you’re picking up at Will Call or heading straight in. Wristbands are by the day so ensure you’ve grabbed the correct ticket to scan in, I saw a few get turned away with Sunday ones! The festival’s a manageable enough size to plot out an aggressive itinerary traversing end-to-end if need be. Just remember that, as Above and Beyond pointed out in their famous keyboard screen projection, it was somehow sunny in an otherwise annual field of mud! Wellies are usually mandatory.
Entering during Duke Dumont during a lush chord transition was the perfect induction to a stunning weekend on the grounds. With similarly melodic bass beats, GRUM capitalised on a captive crowd seeking shade shelter. La Fleur and Bicep reliably brought the beats. As sunset coloured the skies, I decided to familiarise myself with the rest of the grounds, nearly queuing for a few of the many rides for an adrenaline rush but instead got lured by the countless dinner options available near Annie Mac holding court, tapping my credit card for several tasty treats and tipples.
I recently caught Hot Since 82 at Knee Deep in Peckham, and was lucky to end up onstage for Denis Sulta’s AVA 2018 set in Belfast, so instead, it felt mandatory to check out A&B. Standard tug at trance heartstrings, as per usual. Conversely, UK fans flocked to High Contrast in droves, and then seemingly doubled in time for Wilkinson. Surely the grass grounds were stomped the most heartily at this drum and bass tent, the energy was electric! Having seen Calvin Harris countless times Stateside, I instead relished in the Chemical Brothers’ reliably eye-catching visuals capturing their hits’ imagery surrounded by equally awestruck fans. As the evening got darker, the mood was matched by the grooves of Carl Cox and Nicole Moudaber.
Sunday: Brunch, then beats
Unprompted to promote them: I stayed in a tiny ensuite at Sleep, Eat, Love for its closeby location to the train. I was especially glad to have done so upon learning that guests get a 20% discount off at their restaurant, Love Thy Neighbour, which felt like a nature-filled haven with an impressive array of healthy-ish brunch dishes and young, welcoming vibe. It’s incredibly affordable regardless, but their Happy Hour 2-for-1 was particularly impressive!
I’d have been remiss not to visit the Museum of Liverpool and learn a bit about the city’s colourful history, as well as the Double Fantasy exhibit charting out John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s personal and professional endeavours. I also popped into the Tate at Royal Albert Dock, though the Keith Haring show’s ticketed.
Once back on the bus (with departures earlier on Sunday!), I arrived into the final festival day in time to support Hannah Wants, then checking out hometown heroes Camelphat. A personal favourite, Kolsch’s productions blasted out to a packed tent full of fans, which then transitioned perfectly to FISHER. We may or may not have lost it.
Personally, since I live in London, most of the other names on the docket would’ve been my recommendation, but the nostalgia (and novelty) of catching Swedish House Mafia again was simply too irresistible. Given their cancellations at other scheduled appearances, the tension leading up to their set time was palpable, so when the trio did indeed emerge, there was pure elation across the grounds. Not so much at Tiesto, perhaps playing to the smallest crowd of his career.
I briefly headed into the anticipated Adam Beyer and Cirez D set but found it unfortunately unappealing, though those around me were having a time, so maybe it was just me. Walking back toward SHM as a drawn-out intro to Greyhound took hold certainly confirmed my choice; what looked like the entire festival’s capacity was entranced by the three laser circles projected in the middle. Say what you will about the Swedes, but the Mafia had their fans in the palm of their hands as they transitioned from some of their solo efforts, Axwell & Ingrosso tracks, and even Supermode. For those of us old enough to remember its release, it was a cathartic and powerful tour de force across their repertoire, likely not to be repeated again on UK soil anytime soon. Or so they say.