Planet Love is Northern Irelands biggest festival devoted to all things dance and took place on Saturday the 21st of September at Shane's Castle Co. Antrim.
Me - Nelo. I had missed Creamfields and was grateful to get a chance to finish off my Summer in style.
John B - from Australia. At the decrepid age of about 29 John has witnessed the glory years of dance music and is still loving it to this day, a savage party animal.
Katie S - From Chicago USA. Katie loves to party and although she has no idea who the hell Paul Van Dyk is she still knows good music when she hears it.
9:00am Crawled out of bed, very early for a Saturday but this was no ordinary Saturday. Had some breakfast and mixed a very trancey CD for the car.
11:00am John and Katie arrive in the motor and what a car they got, one huge Toyota Land Cruiser. We fill up the boot with blankets and sleeping bags and stack up the CD's before we hit the road.
12:20pm We cross the border and our mobile phones stop working, I feel naked without mine - sad but true. We have yet to see any other cars making the same pillgramage as us which is quite surprising. Tiesto's In Search Of Sunrise 3 is blasting from the speakers.
12:45pm We stop off in Newry for lunch and stock the car up with booze. It seems that Alco pop's are a lot more popular in the UK then in Ireland and much cheaper too. I decide my poison will be a few bottles of Carribean Twist, the bloke behind the counter looks at me like I'm a rampant homosexual. Must be gay juice I'm buying. Spot a couple of clubbing people walking around but none of them really look like festival material, I stand out with my bright red pants, massive hair and pimp sunglasses.
1:50pm Arrive in Belfast, this city scares the crap out of me, I suppose it probably due to growing up watching bombs go off and people getting shot on a daily basis here. We don't stop. Irish and British flags can be seen fluttering in the breeze, marking out the territory of similar people with different beliefs and massive amounts of hatred for each other, my skin crawls.
2:35pm After passing a huge British military barracks we come to the main gate of Planet Love there are people everywhere we avoid crushing them with our car. Next we set up base in the carpark where people are finishing off their booze before heading in. In the distance we can hear Scooter screaming away. Retro memories start flooding back the alcohol runs quickly to my head.
3:00pm Time to play. After a long walk in which our Red Bull was confiscated by security we enter the arena. Before we even get to look around John and Katie need to go to the toilets, Katie smart girl that she is fills her bag with toilet paper cause she knows there will be none left at the end of the night. Planet love consisted of 5 huge tents: The End, Essential Selection, Nukleuz, Rendevous and Love the main tent. There was a full fairground in operation with loads of different gut-wrenching rides including a massive slingshot bungee - pretty dangerous to take on after a few pints and a dodgy burger.
4:00pm Time to go mad. Our first stop was at the Essential Selection tent to see the legendary Erik Morillo ply his trade, the man was stomping playing a wide variety of excellent tunes with precision mixing and a smile like no other. After about 30 minutes we ran across to The End to see what Mr. C was upto. The former Shamen jock was keeping it current with Tim Deluxe's "It just won't do" but the crowd here wasn't quite as lively as in the last tent, so we went back to Morillo.
6:00pm Hemstock and Jennings were tearing up the Love tent. Always crowd pleasers up here the boys were throwing down some of their own unique styles and sent the crowd wild with delight, us also.
7:00pm Marco V takes over where the last pair left off and continues to build, this was a pleasure to listen to because too often at festivals DJ start over from scratch when they come on and that can leave the crowd feeling a litle frustrated.
7:30pm Sorry Marco, nothing personal but I dragged Katie and John to Timo Mass in the Essential Selection tent. We had a great spot here, well within spitting distance of the big German but of course I wouldn't hock at anyone as brilliant as Timo. He was really on top form laying down tracks I have never heard and making them feel like legendary anthems that I know and love. Incrediblly at one stage he did get it completly arseways and messed up a simple beatmatch, it reminds us that even the big-guns are only mere mortals under the surface. I got a little sidetracked on route to get a bottle of water and dropped in to hear Marco V mix his massive track 'Godd' I really wanted to hear his 'Café del Marco' mix but I was more focused on the Timo Mass experience.
9:00pm After some fun and games in the Bumper Cars it was the turn of Pete Tong to impress, I was going to be a bit critical because I've heard he is getting somewhat lazy behind the decks, I have even heard a rumour of him playing premixed cd's on stage. Well what ever has gone before was not in evedence tonight, from my excellent vantage point I watched a true professional in action building and dropping the tempo with some delicate fades and beatmatches. Tonggy has been at the forefront for a long, long time and you would know it, although he was fairly stoned *I was close enough to tell* Pete never lost his concentration for a minute and even had the audacity to sign a couple of autographs for screaming fans with one hand on the crossfader, a solid set was capped off thanks to a cool remix of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers 'by the way' if any one has it let me know cause I now want it bad. Good show and time for some recuperation.
11:30pm Everyone knows and loves Paul Van Dyk I will kick lumps out of anyone who doesn't. He is easily one of the best and there are many who think he is no.1. I wanted him to prove it to me. So I stood in the Love tent anticipating a massive set, however I did not get what I desired. He like so many started from scratch which was a bit of a let down for a large crowd already very drained who were trying hard to keep the adrenaline going. If fact his set started off quite boring and after enduring it for 40 minutes, I felt it was time to take a breather. So a very wasted Katie begged me to go back on the bumper cars. Now this was hillarious the other cars were filled with people completly off their heads on E and god knows what else, I happily dished out plenty of punishment and nearly lost Katie at the same time (She refused to wear a seatbelt and kept trying to puch John who was watching from the sidelines). After jumping out I instantly recognised a beat and rushed back to Van Dyk who had just dropped my current fav track '2 months off' by Underworld. After nearly an hour he had got the tempo going again and the exhausted crowd were lapping it up. He finished off very strongly but I was still a bit dissapointed with how his set began.
1:00am John got very, very excited as the center piece act took to the decks. The man in question is DJ Tiesto. For me Tiesto is the best remixer in the world, he is the only man that can sell an unheard record for me on the strength of a remix alone. I have gone into record stores and bought singles I've never heard of just because Tiesto's name is on the slieve along with his mix. "Your mad" you say, fair enough but as far as I'm concerned Tiesto only mixes the best and 9/10 times he makes them better. John is a huge fan of his but I have never seen him play a live set, so I was going to give him this opportunity to impress and possibly stake a claim at my top spot for best DJ. He started slow again but built it up quickly, he was dropping a lot of tunes I was unfamiliar with but each one was excellent. Tiesto got the mix spot on and the energy levels quickly surpassed those created by Van Dyk, however he seemed hesitant to drop anything too popular into his set which did alienate those punters who were not so hardcore. I see this as a major failing that lets down too many top jocks. A crowd will always be mixed. You will have those off their tits who just want a beat to wave their glowsticks at, then you have those who know their music and want to hear the latest cutting edge releases these are the anoraks who knoww too much and can tell you anything there is to know finally who have your regular dance fan, they want to big tunes as well as new tunes and they do get bored very quickly when they don't hear what they want. It took Tiesto far too long to drop a big one and as a result the crowd did shrink. He was still outstanding, don't get me wrong here but I was a little bit dissapointed also at this stage of the night I was getting very tired and badly in need of some alcohol and crisps.
3:00am The very weary crowd starts to make their way home, we are back at the car scoffing munchies and gargling cheap beer. We decided that it wasn't a good idea to spend the night there as the RUC were rounding people up and probably flogging them :) so we set off in search of a place to set up shop for the night.
4:30am After cruising for a while listening to a chillout cd or two we slept in a hotel carpark outside Belfast.
9:00am We regain consciousness and head south.
11:00am Breakfast on the beautiful shore of Carlingford lough.
4:00pm After much messing around I finally return home for some well deserved rest.
10:00pm I am back in the local club checking out a German dance act called Schneider who were quite good, very Kurnkrafty and retro. No rest for the commited dance fan.
12:30pm I climb into my bed at long last, what a session.
THE VERDICT: It was my first experience with the Northern Ireland dance scene after hearing so much about it. In a country so divided The Planet Love festival was very refreshing, there was no hatred of biggotry here, Catholics and Protestants, Republicans and Unionists danced together. Whilst divided in normal life they are united by their love of dance music and my god do they love it. I saw some huge acts but I malso missed some such as the Laylo & Bushwacker live set which coincided with Van Dyk. I went to Planet Love not only to get a break and have a laugh but to learn, witness some of the best in the business and use the experience to help improve my DJing and production skills. I was expecting a lot from some of the big guns but only one stood head and shoulders above the rest - Erik Morillo. Morillo plays with a smile and obviously loves what he does. He jumps around the box singing to himself and gets very excited with every track he spins. This attitude is lacking in the scene at the moment, too many DJ's are playing just because they have to and not because they enjoy it. Out of the greats I witnessed Van Dyk, Tiesto, Mass and Tong, Erik Morello takes home my medal of honour. He is a class act and his attitude should be an example to the rest of us.
Planet Love was an excellent festival, well organised and well managed, I hope I will be back next year as a performer or a spectator, either way I'll be buzzin'. Peace.