(Image credit: Hijacked Festival)
I think it’s hard to overstate the efficacy of Thick As Thieves. As the bunch of people with the most intimidating list of enormous events under their belt in the city, it’s easy to forget that they’re all just bass-loving students. That is, it’s easy to forget that fact until you turn up to one of their events. Hijacked Festival 2014, the first of its name, was a three or four stage (depends what
you call a stage) bass music festival. Run by Thick As Thieves and augmented by pretty much every bass collective in the city, Hijacked Festival was pretty much a distillation of everything that Exeter has to offer when it comes to cutting-edge dance music and an incredibly friendly scene.
Something that struck me throughout was the fact that the volunteers and stewards that I spotted, in their fetching tic-tac orange hi-vis jackets, were all so familiar. It dawned on me that pretty much everybody working the entire festival was a local night-runner, a performer themselves, or a devotee of the scene down here. I recognised half the bouncers from the odd Timepiece Friday or night down at Cellar Door. The question it begged, if the scene down here is so compact, is how can it be so damn good? The main stage resembled something from an enormous festival for all its professionally executed decor and stage-tech, but shrunk down to a third of its size. The same went for much of the festival. Incredible vision and atmosphere, shrunk down to a small but perfectly formed bunch of bass-heads.
Something that didn’t quite fit in with this theme of down-scaling was the series of back-to-back heavy hitters on the main stage. As we got stuck in to Karma Kid, I incredulously noted Adam Englefield of Blonde and Eton Messy chilling to the left hand side, sharing a tinny with Bondax. I felt the same feeling when halfway through Bondax’s set - I couldn’t help feeling like I was at a much larger event, what with the swelling atmosphere of the crowd and creeping feeling of summer. But, I quickly turned around, walked five hundred yards to the bar and remembered that I was surrounded by what was pretty much just a particularly devoted slice of students of Exeter University. The contradiction was one that became sweeter as each headliner’s set got huger and huger. Gorgon City did a sterling job of blending some bleeding edge house tunes with Gala’s Freed From Desire.
I don’t want to give the impression that I spent the whole afternoon scorning the beloved residents of Exeter’s collectives. Down in The Aquarium, Oats and Jake Stoles threw out a thoroughly fantastic set, and just before we started to flock to the bus we stopped into The Aquarium to catch some of Modu’s set, which as always was flawless and brutal in equal measure. We watched Oneman and Chunky killing it at the main stage from afar, sitting in the Terrace Bar. I won’t gloat for long on the perks of a VIP wristband, but suffice it to say, table service at a festival bar is my new standard. Anyway, Oneman and Chunky brought the trajectory of the day to a distinctly mental climax, stage dancers and heavy light shows abounded.
I can’t really applaud loud enough to do justice to how well Hijacked was pulled off. Little details in the decor of the place, combined with an incredibly useful iOS app for stage time reminders, really added up to an overall impression of something of much greater scale. Yet the event had an atmosphere, something like that of a garden party gone utterly awry too. Thick As Thieves have managed to strive for more, to great effect, without becoming pretentious, rocky, or disorganised. It’s a feat and a half, and I for one want my ticket for next year already.