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Review: inner city electronic 2020

Photo from Jody Hartley Photography

For the third year running, the city of Leeds was once again gripped by the inexorable buzz of inner city electronic; a 24 hour festival that welcomes an accomplished cohort of some the finest DJs and producers around to play across 10 venues throughout the city. As a bustling stampede of anticipant party-goers flocked to the streets, Leeds once again braced itself for a multi-faceted extravaganza that, whilst supplying a potent barrage of quality music, promised to once again provide a range of talks, workshops and interviews from 1pm onwards at Leeds College of Music. It is perhaps the striking of such a balance between all of these features that firmly secures ICE's title as one of the most riveting electronic music festivals the UK has to offer.

Kicking off the day was a talk from 20/20 Vision founder Ralph Lawson, who hosted 'How to Start a Record Label' at Leeds College of Music. With over 700 residency sets behind him, and 25 years of experience on the topic, he provided a welcomed insight into the mechanics of the industry, laying out an informative and inspiring start to the day ahead.

A couple of hours later, an inevitable yet much-needed injection of climate-awareness came in the form of 'Protecting Our Pale Blue Dot'; a collaborative discussion of the environmental impacts of the music industry with Ben Robinson, Teresa Moorse, and Dr Drew Hemment. Blue Dot festival itself, an annually-held celebration of science and music in Manchester, has been leading the way with the incorporation of talks and lectures in the last few years, ensuring that crowds leave both musically and educationally satisfied. This was certainly the case on Saturday, after the trio delivered a fascinating and ultimately very necessary talk detailing the ways in which the music industry can make an effort to minimise its negative effects on the environment.

The decision to host the festival a couple of months earlier this year was a decision that perhaps had the potential to impact the momentum of the usually sun-baked affair, but as the day unfolded, it became apparent that the lack of sunshine was not going to quell atmosphere at all. The real cloud hanging over the day, however, was the passing of legend Andrew Weatherall. Due to play a back-to-back set with Sean Johnston at Sheaf Street, the loss of such an influential figure last month was felt throughout the fabric of music culture across the country. Following this tragic news, inner city was successful in honouring his contribution to the world of music, paying tribute with a talk at Leeds College of Music, with head of MAP Charity Chris Madden discussing the extent of his legacy with his friends Sean Johnston, Joe Muggs, and Justin Robertson.

Photo form Jody Hartley Photography

As the sun set over the Leeds and the talks and workshops drew to a close, the city began to transform as an implacable energy rushed through the streets. One by one, the ICE venues packed out and as the party ignited, the much anticipated explosion of relentless nightlife rippled through the city. From Distrikt to Freedom Mills, this year's party-goers were treated to an impressive plethora of world class DJs including the likes of Craig Richards, Mr Scruff, HAAi, and many more. It was at the Refectory that the true crescendo of the day was set to build, and as we entered the iconic venue with its rich musical history oozing from the rafters, it was clear that something special was about to ensue. Orbital graced the stage with their imposing sci-fi setup, sending volley after volley of acid house anthems into a hysterical crowd, their spotlight glasses darting to and fro across their expansive rig of hardware.

Photo from Jody Hartley Photography

Following on from a blistering set form Or:la, headliner Peggy Gou took to the stage to deliver the closing set. Whilst threading her signature sound throughout her time behind the decks, she was sure to throw in a wealth of moments that took the room by surprise; notably the inclusion of Kelly Lee Owens' New release 'Melt!', which saw the room pulse with euphoria. The atmosphere in the room retained its potency right until its finale, where a final tribute to Andrew Weatherall bowed out to the crowd in the form of Primal Scream.

Elsewhere, the party continued, with HAAi taking control of Warehouse, and Detroit in Effect tearing it up at Hifi until the early hours. By the time the masses had dispersed into the rising run, it was evident that inner city electronic remains a towering peak in the landscape of UK nightlife, and that Leeds' untouchable ability to facilitate such a hub of talent, passion, and culture will be witnessed year upon year into the future.

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