Casting my mind back to the cold winter months around February when The One in the Woods was announced, I can’t believe I’m sat here now writing a review for my first festival in two years – it feels unbelievable. The live music landscape was pretty bleak back then and it fills my heart with joy that we’re now looking at a completely different picture to the gloomy scenes a few months back.
Starting a festival in the midst of a global pandemic was a brave venture from The One in the Woods, but it’s certainly one that paid off. Based just outside of Liverpool and hosting three stages with a diverse lineup of Drum & Bass, Jungle, Techno and House, it was a leviathan of electronic music in what felt like an enchanted magical forest. When you’ve not been to attend a live event in two years and you’re suddenly surrounded by trees, thumping bass, ferns and fairy lights, it does feel like the stuff of dreams.
A personal favourite artist of mine on the Viper Recordings roster is dancefloor duo Koven. With the release of their album ‘Butterfly Effect‘ last year in a time where we couldn’t dance together, TOITW gave them a perfect chance to unite the crowd with their new album. As Katie stepped up to the decks with the mic in hand, we knew this set would be something spectacular. Katie wasted no time dropping twisted rhythms and melodic riffs; a signature of the Koven sound, and as she delivered faultless vocals on her tracks her energy radiated into the crowd who reciprocated it back. It’s clear to see how much artists have missed performing- just as much as the crowds have missed being together united by their love for the music. As flocks of Koven fans lined the front row singing every lyric back to her, we knew Katie and her partner Max had created something very special.
Austrian duo Camo & Krooked were also a highlight on an already stacked line-up. With behemoth sets delivered on glaciers and wind turbines already this year with UKF, a set in the woods on the outskirts of Liverpool was a walk in the park for them. Their trademark clinically produced Drum & Bass tunes shook the outdoor sound system with each and every frequency hitting harder than the next. Their eclectic selection of dance music through the decades intertwined with anthemic dancefloor Drum & Bass ensured they had the crowd at the palm of their hands as the thunderstorms that had been forecast all day started to roll in.
As Sub Focus stepped up to the decks, it was as if the rain clouds had co-ordinated with the initial rumbling bass at the start of his set. As the heavens opened there was a sense of euphoria as the crowd lapped up the anthems as he tore through his recently released ‘Reworks 1’ album. The glistening exhilaration of ‘Follow The Light’ rippling through the woods as the lights flashed against the rain was such a beautiful moment I won’t forget in a long time. Side by side with strangers as we shouted the words back to each other, it made me realise that I’ve never been so appreciative to hear loud music like this again.
Headlining the event; London and Liverpool based Matrix & Futurebound were the final act. The lights bounced around the clearing between the trees – lighting up all the faces of the anticipated crowd and as Rhymestar announced that it was the pairs first show in over 18 months.
Matrix & Futurebound’s blend of relentless melodic synths and dark dancefloor fillers created an hour long masterpiece of modern Drum & Bass. The Liverpudlian audience matched the duos energy, and the synergy between the artists and crowd was unstoppable. They flawlessly delivered a mix of old tracks and new which had been so gravely missed after the last year and half. They were a perfect end to what was such a special festival. Although TOITW is still in its infancy, I already can’t wait to go back next year!