Monday, 7 November 2016

Swingamajig - 2016 by Chris Inglis

Chris Ingliss, the world's only Vintage Remix academic, went to Swingamajig and loved it.

A note from the editor: I was supposed to post this back in May after Chris ever so kindly offered to write a review. I clearly failed in this, for which I humbly apologise to all of you, and of course, him. Happily, Swingamajig have just released the official video for the 2016 festival, so I can now publish Chris's report and make it look like this was the plan all along.

Swingamajig 2016

At various moments throughout this year’s Swingamajig, the thought crossed my mind of just how difficult it’s going to be for me for me to try and explain the unparalleled brilliance of the festival to someone who hasn’t had the opportunity to attend themselves. This thought was closely followed by the conclusion that this may in fact be an impossible task, and that the event is absolutely one which has to be experienced to be fully understood. That being said, I will here attempt to describe my own personal account of Swingamajig 2016.

Where in past years I’ve attended the festival with a very set idea in mind of which acts I know I want to see, the times that they’re on, and where – this year I decided to take a much more carefree approach and simply explore the festival open-mindedly. One of the reasons I love Swingamajig so much is simply the variety of things that occur simultaneously. For instance, this year I was able to enjoy some relaxed lindy hop social dancing at the Night Owl, and after only a two-minute walk, be able to go wild to the bass-heavy beats of the Black Box. This latter venue was definitely a highlight of the festival for me, particularly because of – after first witnessing the mayhem going on in there – my realisation that it will still only 7pm.

Highlights of this venue included Madame Barducci and Phat Sam, and within the Ragtime Records stage where you’d find the rest of the DJ line-up, I have to give special mention to JFB, Tallulah Goodtimes, and especially Father Funk, whose set I thought was exceptional. Before turning into the Ragtime Records stage, this venue also acted as the Cabaret stage, featuring various performances, including a highly impressive tap dance routine; an amazing straps performance within the circus segment; and some greatly entertaining burlesque acts by the likes of Eliza DeLite and Kitty Bang Bang, all of which added a whole extra dimension to the festival.

Of course – at least for me – the most important element of any festival is the live music, and this year’s Swingamajig certainly didn’t disappoint. The first act I managed to catch the whole set of (following my mandatory face-painting of course) was the Tootsie Rollers. Having not come across these before, I was very keen to see what they were like, and their phenomenal performance set off the entire festival to a brilliant start. I’d in fact go as far to say that they were one of the best acts of the whole show. As the festival went on, the live acts across both the Main stage and the Arch stage continued to impress. Another special mention I’ll give goes out to the After Hours Band – I’ve seen these guys many times now, but upon happening across their set I found I was not physically able to leave, I was enjoying it so much.

SwinGrowers also provided a very entertaining set, as of course did the Electric Swing Circus, the organisers of the entire event, and indeed Balkan Beat Box, the overall headliners of the festival. I’ve been to all four Swingamajigs now and the festival just keeps growing and growing. Swingamajig 2016 was everything I wanted it to be, and I without doubt intend on returning next year; I imagine it will be a very long time before I tire of the electro swing scene. For anyone keen on exploring this style of music, I can’t imagine a better introductory event; as this years festival has shown, Swingamajig encompasses everything that there is to love about the genre.