Outlook UK: Hopefully the first of many!
Words: Aisling Bennett
The first weekend of July saw the inaugural edition of Outlook UK grace the grounds of Cholmondeley Castle, Cheshire. Expectations were high, with the world’s biggest and best acts in bass-heavy music all in attendance. Exposed went along to see if they delivered…
Outlook has been taking place in Croatia since 2008, in which time it has received widespread critical acclaim and built an army of dedicated fans. The decision to move the festival to the UK was bold and ambitious due to the difficulties of hosting large-scale bass events in this country. But it was clear from day one that the organisers, artists and crew were putting in every ounce of their blood sweat and tears to give sound-system culture the celebration and respect it deserves. The tight noise restrictions caused a few unavoidable problems, but the love of music and community spirit won out, making the weekend a truly magical and unforgettable experience.
Each stage had a unique feel, with different label and sound system takeovers to keep things fresh across the four-day weekend. The Main Stage brought all the warm feels, with highlights including a fire show from DRS, a set of the best in rare reggae and roots records from Earl Gateshead and a stunning, soulful performance from singer Hollie Cook, who shone on stage as the sun appeared on Saturday afternoon.
The Subdub Arena was an absolute joy to walk into, with four mighty rigs blasting out dub and reggae all day long. Being a small arena with hay bales acting as a sound-buffering wall, standing in the centre was like being wrapped in a fuzzy blanket of bass vibrations. The sensation was extraordinary and had us grinning from ear to ear every time we walked in there. Sound Systems Iration Steppas, Channel One and Mungo’s Hi-Fi were but a few of the stand-outs from across the weekend.
At The Keep, we caught dubstep masterclasses from the illusive Goth-trad and Manchester’s own Biome, as well as an exceptional set from Yung Singh, who is continuing to make tidal waves across the scene.
Smuggler’s Cove packed a pint-sized punch throughout the weekend, with Dub Smugglers and Mina providing serious party/carnival vibes. A last-minute schedule change on Sunday meant legends Fabio & Grooverider, followed by fellow heavyweight Goldie, took the reins at the Cove late afternoon. Both billed for later sets on bigger stages, they showed their experience and wisdom by saving the drum n bass for nighttime and throwing down some house bangers.
It’s only right we give a big shout to Sinai Sound System, who were most heavily impacted by the noise restrictions, and to all the ravers that continued to pack into the Sinai Arena across the weekend, showing nothing but love and support. Although a bit quieter than intended, the likes of Plastician, Mala and Ben UFO still managed to pull their usual magic out of the bag.
And last but not least, a special mention to Chloé Robinson and her Pretty Weird label takeover at the Tiltyard stage on Saturday, which was without doubt the highlight of the weekend. The stage showcased a masterfully curated line-up of artists who all delivered the highest quality sets. Standouts include Shy One, Thys, Chloé’s own b2b with DJ ADHD and of course LCY, who closed the stage with a whirlwind trip though UK bass, jungle, percs and even a bit of happy hardcore at the end. The whole day felt like a real homage to bass, capturing the essence of the festival perfectly.
We sincerely hope Outlook UK will take place again next year, so we can continue this remarkable celebration of music, culture and togetherness.