Bluedot, a pint-sized festival located a stone’s throw away from Manchester, is a weird and beautiful combination of science, technology, arts, and music. Headlined by Air, DJ Shadow, Caribou, Brian Eno, Underworld, George Fitzgerald, 65daysofstatic, Jean-Michel Jarre, and Ben UFO, Bluedot managed to get a pretty decent line up for its first edition at the Jodrell Bank Observatory.
The wide-ranging crowd reflected the festival’s music palate: people from everywhere, of every age; their single uniting characteristic a sunny – but not sickly – disposition and a genuine (but not annoying) thirst to learn about each other and the world we live in.
For us, the festival began with a melodious, musically poetic set from George Fitzgerald who played an assortment of tracks from his recent album. But the clear highlight of our day was Algorave, short for “algorithmic rave”, a niche group producing electronic music in real-time by programming code. Halfway through, we tore ourselves away and moves to Underworld, who were gracing the main stage with a set which would set the tone of joy and happiness for the rest of the weekend.
Saturday was heavy on music, with some big names on the bill. French Rockers Air on the Main Stage played some dreamy and atmospheric synth samples which were perfect for a sunny afternoon. Jean-Michel Jarre was undoubtedly the biggest draw of the weekend, as he surprised the crowd with the modernity of his more recent work and the intensity of his two drummers. His light show amazed us; with two giant video walls surrounding him, packed with stunning colours streaming and ricocheting across the packed arena. After 3 songs, the front video wall opened up like curtains to reveal Jarre, elevated, centre-stage behind a huge bank of vintage synths and computers. The music ran the gauntlet of techno and synth-pop and emerged unscathed, with the audience in a euphoric daze. This is a man approaching his 8th decade on the globe with his finger still on the electronic pulse.
DJ Shadow, who is doing a world tour for his new album “The Mountain Will Fall“ played in a relatively small tent full of energetic ravers who queued to see this 90s party maker. Although he played most of his new songs, he also found time to squash Organ Donor and Midnight In A Perfect World into his hour set, to the delight of many cult fans. We were later entertained by a live performance of Floating Points Band and Ben UFO who kept us dancing on aching feet, with some disco, some jungle and large doses of quality techno.
Sunday was perhaps the most memorable day for us; with two of our favourite bands playing the main stage. 65 Days of Static, who we interviewed just before their set, played a time-bending cacophony of experimental/electronic/punk rock accompanied with bursts of energy. The tracklist included some greats from their new album, No Man’s Sky; a newfound love which has slipped onto many a mix tape of ours. After Everything Everything, the main stage was closed by the hotly anticipated Caribou. Playing the last live show of the year, the band managed to play into what is typically loved about alt rock bands, what pleases in the dance community – and more generally what pleases anyone with ears.
Well managed and blessed with good weather, we had a great time attending science lectures, eating delicious street food from around the world, watching some of our favourite bands, with the much valued company of some intelligent, funny people. The most striking thing about Bluedot festival was that there was something to do for every age. You could never get bored here, whether you are a retired grandpa, or a five-year-old kid. Bluedot managed to take care of the disabled people which is something rare in the festivals.
The whole festival was mesmerising.
Save our SPACE for next year.