Waterworks Festival 2023: A fine final play of the summer

Last weekend we attended Waterworks, what is quickly claiming the title of London’s grand send off to the summer. Now in its third year at Gunnersbury park, this edition was armed with cloudless 27 degree heat and their most exciting lineup to date. Representation in dance music has been a hot topic of conversation, especially with more electronic sounds sneaking their way into the mainstream and the charts in recent years. Waterworks has labelled itself as a celebration of dance music, new and established, with the festival committed to illustrating and honoring a variety of artists, influences and listeners. 

Credit: Jake Davis | Khroma Collective

The day kicked off with intention, Mother Earth, the up and coming London based duo, delivered an ethereal tech house set into the midday sunshine. The day was teed up perfectly and the London crowd were ready to be transported, whether back in time to the start of a hopeful summer, or across borders to somewhere out of the capital completely; it certainly did not feel like London. Not an easy feat, the first slot of the day, but certainly worthy of a big mention. 

Every stage is curated on vibe, with no shortage of plant displays, installations, projections and light shows. It was impossible to not keep returning to dance under the spaceship at the Orbit stage. A no-boys-allowed lineup where the likes of Helena Star, Bored Lord and – for their only UK performance as a quartet this year – S.A.S.S.

Credit: Sienna Lorraine Gray | Khroma Collective

Highlights of the day included a packed out party at the Cedar Stage for Dr Banana. Unfortunately around 40 minutes in the sound cut out, leaving the crowds confused in the afternoon heat. Fortunately, when it finally starts up again, a quarter of an hour later, there is loads more room to sneak into the shade as Dr Banana finishes his set, seamlessly handing the crowd over to Francesco Del Garda who launches the crowd into an hour of deep techno. 

Unai Trotti, another stand out of the day, was a seminar in Italian house, techno and disco. Finger guns and sweaty foreheads were in endless supply at sets from Salute, Yung Singh, YU QT and the incredible Roza Terenzi, a favourite here at Wax Music. An undeniable stand out was a surprise set, to fill stalwart of the drum and bass scene Lenzman’s slot on the Siren Stage. It was a very special treat to see the legendary Skream absolutely kill an unexpected dubstep set, and even more so to see that iconic La Roux remix, which I have loved for so long, played by the man himself at sunset. 

Credit: Jake Davis | Khroma Collective

What stands out most about the day is it’s a far cry from the often braggadocious and poser underground music scene in London. The festival caters for everyone, whether you are an electronic music head or just looking for one final summer party before the frost kicks in. Waterworks undoubtedly has its atmosphere and infrastructure nailed down, and now already confirmed for 2024 the festival is in a fortuitous position as an established taste maker that can continue to keep dance floors an inclusive and magical place for all.

Words: Rachel Mercer // Photos: Khroma Collective

Registration for Waterworks 2024 is now open. Sign up for early access to ticket info here.

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