It’s around 5pm on 23 September and we are deep within Tokyo World’s Vulkano stage at Bristol’s Eastville Park. As we look up, past the elaborate stage and into the perfect blue sky, DJ Die shouts out to ‘the last bit of sunshine we will see this year…’
It wasn’t just because we were bloody lucky to have perfect weather so close to October that this resonated so hard, but because Tokyo World marks the end of the Bristol festival season and reminds us that the winter club season is coming. Fortunately for us, Tokyo World organisers always push the boat out with quality soundsystems, impressive stages and décor, and a phat line up – so you can be sure to see the summer out with a bang
Now spread over two days, the festival – which has quickly established itself as one of Bristol’s most anticipated events of the year – was able to pack in over 100 artists across five stages. Sat on the cusp of fresher’s week there is no denying that a large amount of attendees were students, but the carefully constructed lineup manages to overthrow any chance of it feeling like a commercial student event.
One of our first highlights on the Saturday was Bristol’s Dubkasm over at the Tropical Paradise Stage. Childhood friends Digi Step and Sufferah’s Choice radio host and the mind behind Teachings in Dub, Stryda hyped us up for the weekend as they blasted out their dubplate anthem Victory. With the almighty Channel One Sound System and The Ragga Twins up next, how could we help but spend a good couple of hours skanking to endless legendary roots and dub records?
Heading over to DieMantle – DJ Die’s project with Dismantle – and my epiphany moment next, the duo were rocking sun pleasing classics like Crystal Waters’ Gypsy Woman, the crowd singing back: ‘La da dee la dee da’. Before we knew what hit us, we were in the mood for some So Solid Crew, who indulged us with their 21 Seconds and other era classics like Pied Piper and MC’s Do You Really Like It?
Recognised as one of Wu Tang’s most prominent members and ranked as one of the world’s greatest MCs, we had the bar set very high for our next pit stop: Ghostface Killah, who was performing at the festival with Wu-Assiociate Killah Priest. Maybe I set the bar a little too high, but each tune seemed to be cut short just as I was getting into it, giving the whole performance a disjointed and, dare I say, half-assed vibe.
On the contrary, highlights included super-energetic Mancunian collective LEVELZ, who were followed by multi award winning remix legends, Bristol’s own Stanton Warriors over at the smokin’ Vulkano Stage.
To top off the evening, mysterious masked rapper CASisDEAD, who made up for being pretty late on stage with a brilliant closing set.
As we returned on Sunday, I almost expected it to be quieter, with the 9-5 contingent sticking to the traditional one-day formula of previous years. But as Bristol MC Gardna says, Sunday’s fun day merked by Monday – and with a lineup this big, I wasn’t going to let a slightly sketchy morning in the office hold me back.
Speak of the devil, Gardna returned to Tokyo World for a second day, this time with Joining Gentleman’s Dub Club for a surprise performance of their forthcoming GDC x Nextmen x Gardna collab Rude Boy. Wanting to keep on the reggae vibe, we then ran over to catch the end of soundsystem champions Mungo’s Hi Fi, where we got try out our new ‘air bicycle’ dance move to their phat chune Bike Rider.
Another Sunday highlight was DJ Luck and MC Neat who were pumping out the garage classics from Sia’s Little Man to T2’s Heartbroken, moving onto some classic grime tracks like XTC’s Functions On The Low. It became a haven for all those reminiscing about the early noughties garage heyday and many others locking in to the grime resurrection.
Seeing in the evening were yet more late nineties /early naughties legends. Dance outfit Faithless delivered a flawless set, and as Basement Jaxx pumped out their classic dancefloor fillers, I really did wish the music would keep playing on and on…
Photos by Dominika Scheibinger