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Ericsson@ Homelands 2001 UK

Author: Jonty Adderley @ SKRUFF
Friday, June 1, 2001
When Homelands spun off from Creamfields 3 years ago, the Winchester outdoor dance party occupied the high ground previously dominated by Tribal Gathering; as Britain's number one dance festival. But while Tribal Gathering's history throughout the 90s was characterised by political challenges, media indifference or outright hostility, Homelands' inception coincided with an entirely different, dance friendly business environment. Raving, previously the pastime of low life druggies and inner city urban warriors, was suddenly recognised as an acceptable, even fashionable way to spend a Saturday night, and most importantly, this recognition reached the corporations. 3 years later, ericksson@homelands is a gigantic Bacardi/Budweiser/ Ericksson/Radio 1 logo fest, but more importantly, 3 years on Homelands is no longer unique. Gatecrasher, Ministry, Godskitchen and Cream all host broadly similar events over the coming weeks, meaning none of them retain the 'must attend' status of either Tribal Gathering or the mother of all British music festivals: Glastonbury.

Saturday afternoon in Winchester and the cops are out in force. 48 people will eventually be arrested for drugs offences and most of them will be nicked on their way in, with 'amnesty boxes' and unusually vigilant security manning the turnstiles at the entrance. Inside, an array of marquees and tents ring the perimeter fence or site slap bang in the middle of the field, most pumping out broadly similar thumps, which cross and fade depending on wind direction and which tent you're nearest to. Most people spend the afternoon alongside the Radio 1 outdoor stage, a set up worryingly similar to the 'roadshows' of old, with house music and the Dreem Team's garage vibe substituting for pop. Slightly more discerning appear to be the crowds flocking around the Budweiser Bus (Bud Ice Bus, to be specific) who get to hear more non house music provided by Mo Wax's James Lavelle and UK garage hot tips the Stanton Warriors. "There's something about wandering into a large tent at sunset, with no stage act as such and not much lighting that feels like a morning after in a wedding marquee after a wedding," the Guardian hack will later write and indeed, for much of the afternoon, sitting (or dancing) outside rather than loitering in quarter filled big tops, appears to be the only option.

As night falls, the tents begin to fill up with Pulp filling the main tent with an effective though by no means life changing set while over in Movement's drum & bass arena, the vibe's beginning to kick off in what will end up being the rockingest tent of the entire event. Space's Progressive warehouse style tent is packed though feels flatter as the music builds and build and builds.. and builds (particularly during Sacha's set). In fact, the tent where the action can be expected to kick off the most is the VIP/guest tent where between midnight and 6am Danny Tenaglia will play a 6 hour set. However, whether it's the vibe or whether he's having an off night, Tenaglia, at least on this occasion will singularly fail to impress.

About 200 or so guests are dancing in the small tent as he takes the decks and the goodwill towards him is virtually tangible (Tenaglia is indeed, one of the friendliest and humblest of all superstar DJs). However, it's his reputed DJing skills that people are here to enjoy (and judge) and as the night progresses he singularly fails to build a sustained vibe, regularly chopping between grooves or slipping into cheesy tracks that might not clear the floor, (but would if he was someone else). As the hours progress, few additional revellers are enticed onto the floor and some tracks (notably two Eric Clapton tunes including a truly appalling remix of Layla) leave some jaws visibly dropping in amazement. Technically, of course, he's clearly a superior jock, cutting, fading and twisting and turning 8 bar drum loops at will, but tonight his set is hugely disappoint