Review: Color Festival 2015 @ Splott Warehouse
Splott Warehouse, Cardiff
Saturday 6th June 2015
Splott Market becomes something else for one day as it hosts Cardiff's Color Festival, which is gradually becoming something of a must-do for experiences.
Taking inspiration from the Hindu Holi festival, it is a dance music festival incorporating coloured powder thrown around and used to paint the revellers, resulting in an immersive psychedelic wash of vibrancy and bass heavy music. It has run for a few years now, and this year looks like it may be the busiest yet as the crowds find their way to the warehouse, eager to get their dance on and get technicoloured.
Now although Splott Warehouse is now advertising itself as an event venue, it is rather tricky to find as it is a good distance from Cardiff City Centre and not easily accessible by public transport (not least as the centre was closed off due to One Direction playing at the Millennium Stadium!). The walk is a bit far for those coming from train stations and the city centre, plus the warehouse itself wasn't really sign-posted, so finding the entrance wasn't easy. My friend and I even helped a guy find his way there when he found out we were going to the same place! We'd walked a while through Splott before we heard the bass, so we eventually followed that and got to the main entrance.
the floor starts to look like a psychedelic pavement
It started out with the music thumping straight away. Early on the venue isn't too full but there are plenty of people arriving already and the colours are already starting to flow, and the wind is whipping them around the warehouse creating a chromatic fog. The powder is rice flour and glycerine based, so it's not irritable but it does get in the eyes a lot! The party atmosphere is in full swing by about 3pm, and the floor starts to look like a psychedelic pavement as colours are thrown, poured, smeared, chucked and generally exploded all around. It's fun, seeing all the colours mixed around and added to the already cheerful vibe it really amps up the festival into something completely unique and exciting. The music continues from New City Sound, Signature and Purrmotions, and the bass shakes the solid corrugated walls as more people arrive.
There are a number of activities on site including Capital FM offering pictures on their website and a giant beer pong set. The Street Food Warehouse offers a few stalls of their superb artisan wares and the drinks on-site are supplied through a token service, where you buy three tokens for £10, which allows you a can of alcohol. There aren't too many signs for costs and the queues for both the tokens and drinks only get longer as the day progresses although they do move quickly. The queueing system in general is the main detractor of the event, as you have to queue to get tokens, then queue for a drink, then queue to use the toilets and by then you want another drink, so lather, rinse etc. But there is a Ferris wheel outside, so swings and roundabouts. And Ferris wheels!
an all out chromatic assault on the senses that makes you happy to be there
The warehouse is a great venue for this kind of event, although as previously mentioned it is a bit tricky to find. It's a great open floor plan with a smart use of the space having the stage on the left long wall and the drinks and food on the right, leaving the centre for throwing shapes. The stage is simple and effective with it's set-up and the lighting fixtures and projection screen really add a classic rave feel to the event.
The DJs and MCs are enjoying themselves throughout, getting the crowd going with shout outs and mixing club classics with pop and rock, and the dance floor starts to fill up around 4pm as the warehouse starts to get jumping. As C-Y-N-T play with their eclectic mix of pop and dance they drop a few sing-aloud tracks to get the crowd happy, and the music now starts to take the main focus of the festival. Golden Boy MCs throughout and gets a big reception from the crowd, and the music only continues to keep the crowd enthralled with R3Wire and Varski offering a genre defying mix of classics and techno, taking samples from Queen with Nirvana and The Prodigy playfully dancing around Drum & Bass and Techno. During music drops, the MC gets the crowd to grab colour packets and throw them when the bass drops, showering a rainbow over the crowd as the music jumps back. It is an intoxicating sight, an all out chromatic assault on the senses that makes you happy to be there.
as the sun takes the colours from the sky the rainbows remain inside
Disciples are up at 8pm and they bring their urban rhythms to the festival, the music throughout the day is a really clever mix of DJ and genre styles, which keeps the party constantly interesting and danceable. It becomes apparent that the line-up order is fantastic as it never stays the same but always remains captivating, with each DJ/MC commanding the crowd with their own style. By this time the evening is starting to approach, but as the sun takes the colours from the sky the rainbows remain inside. Disciples play a great set, and the stage lighting now has full effect as the daylight disappears and the projection screen showcases fast and exciting images.
The warehouse is full now, the revelry has reached it's apex and the crowd is ready. The organisers are really enjoying making full use of their new late license as High Contrast comes on at 9pm and plays until 11pm, delivering quality Drum & Bass with the MC keeping the party alive with shout outs and more colour throwing. High Contrast remains the highlight of the evening, and as Oliver Heldens takes to the decks at 11pm he closes the festival off with a great mix of club classics, an early 2000s Ministry of Sound vibe that keeps everyone dancing long after the festival finally finishes. Smiles and rainbow dirtied faces all round as everyone's parties continue into the night.
happy revellers, good music and a unique approach
Having spoken to a few revellers it's clear that this is the busiest Colour Festival as of yet, evidenced by its perpetual queues and heavy stream of entrants, but this just adds more excitement to the festival. The organisers did a great job of utilising the space and it was a smart floor plan with the stage and crew on the left long wall and drinks and food on the right, leaving the centre for throwing shapes and colours. The sound was awesome and although there was a loss of high end it didn't really matter as the music was generally bass and beat oriented. There weren't any evident issues with the crowd and the stewards were helpful and did a great job of keeping everything running smoothly, and crowd safety was maintained very well by the staff.
One thing that really stands out is how generous and cheerful everyone is, this is a place where everyone is familial and happy and we're all there to have a good time. I was constantly smiling due to the good nature of the people there, helping each other and offering food/drink and covering each other in colour. The benevolent vibes mixed with the great music made for a great day and this festival is evolving nicely into it's own being, capturing the essence of what makes a festival good by having happy revellers, good music and a unique approach to the festivities with colour throws. I'm sure it will return next year as it grows with popularity, possibly at the same place so get down (if you can find it!) as it's worth the experience.
A technicolour frenzy of high fives and good fun, so don't forget to wear white!
Related Article: Review: Color Festival 2014
Image Credits: Splott Warehouse CDF Facebook Page and author's own