Live Report: South Creamfields 2022 | Live

In the 24 years since its conception, Cream Fields Festival has established itself as an iconic name among ravers nationwide. Usually staged in Cheshire, fans always expect an incredible line-up, with recurring favorites such as David Guetta, Calvin Harris and deadmau5.

This year the electronic dance festival has rebranded itself as Creamfields North, creating its brand new Creamfields South chapter, taking place over Jubilee weekend in Chelmsford, Essex. The festival has already announced its return in 2023 after this year’s “overwhelming success” – but the question is: Was Creamfields South worth it?

Although slightly smaller, Creamfields South still boasted an incredible line-up. Big names headlined the festival including Fatboy Slim, Idris Elba and Andy C. Coupled with the glorious weather, it didn’t seem to dampen spirits as crowds dressed in bucket hats arrived, chattering excitedly and ready for the coming weekend. That is until the crowds realized they would have to queue for hours in the scorching heat to enter the front doors. Worse, for campers in the “VIP Gold” zone, a one-hour walk to pitch their tents awaited them.

Much of the staff were friendly, with some reporting that they walked up to six hours a day between their stations due to the poorly laid out campsite. The main problem of the festival seemed to be the poor organization of the space, taken over by the staff and the punters.

Yet once inside, the excitement made the mediocre organization feel like mere start-up issues. “Ladies to the right, men to the left,” the entrance staff chimed in. I dragged my feet half-heartedly wondering if we would ever reach a point where gender categories weren’t restrictive. Until, stepping into the main arena, I was swept away by a tidal wave of elated energy from the hundreds of ravers in front of me surging towards Skepsis’ set.

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3:30 felt like a ridiculously early set for the bassline DJ. Nonetheless, the Sub_Aural tent was packed with ravers raising their hands in the air and wearing sunglasses over their faces. Skepsis played some of the most famous outtakes (Endor’s “Pump It Up” was particularly harsh), warming up the crowd enough for the weekend ahead.

The DNB tent was also later honored by St. Goof. The Coventry-born DJ was the star of Creamfields, spinning tracks with ease and queuing without getting bored. The energy during his set couldn’t be topped, propelled by an A4-sized inflatable kangaroo bouncing around the cheering crowd. The Sub_Aural tent was definitely a highlight of Creamfields South. Its only drawback was the repetition of samples. There are only a limited number of times you can hear a remix of JVC’s “Heads Will Roll” before feeling tired. DNB Heroes Sub-focus were sampled so many times that I felt like they were actually there. Nonetheless, offering a satisfying assortment of new and established DnB acts, Sub-auricular hosted absolutely wild sets.

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In fact, the curation of acts throughout the festival was masterfully done. Each stage was organized by genre and flowed seamlessly between acts. Some attendees could be heard complaining about performance clashes, but scheduling conflicts are perfectly natural for a festival brimming with talent.

On the main stage, Becky Hill’s the early evening slot got everyone dancing. Hill is the kind of star who has so many bangers, I was surprised at how many lyrics were buried deep in my subconscious. The same could be said for by David Guetta together, which arguably drew the biggest crowd of the weekend. Pyrotechnics can only begin to describe the flames the French DJ has created while showcasing his impressive discography.

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Although the music was fire, the staging throughout the festival was lackluster. Creamfields North favourite, the architecturally fantastic Steel Yard Stage, was canceled early for the South Chapter due to “logistics supply chain issues”. This meant that the striped tents and basic stage structure were the best the festival had to offer, a slight disappointment compared to its northern sibling.

Some acts, however, like house DJ Eats Everything, used minimal staging to their advantage – showcasing a burst of lights among pulsating beats for a stunning performance. Eli Brown and Sosa’s back-to-back sets at Warehouse Stadium offered a similar level of high-quality visuals.

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As Gold campers, we had access to the “VIP Hospitality” area and took time to relax on Saturday among the uncrowded bars and sprawling sofas. What luxury! The “real toilets” were a breath of fresh air from the usual quality of festival toilets. Always clean and well stocked throughout the weekend, I didn’t even feel the need to get high. The food throughout the festival offered a range of options, including vegan products at various price points.

Closing out the main festival stage and soundtrack, my vegan churro was Calvin Harris. Drawing a huge crowd that I’m devastated I didn’t see from the Cinch viewing platform, Harris delighted fans with blue hues, a laser light show, and a selection of well-known classics.

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South Creamfields really came to life at night, despite its 11pm curfew, but the festival is certainly no patch on Creamfields North, both in size and design. “Well at Creamfields North…” has become something of a refrain over the weekend. Still, the festival’s phenomenal selection of music more than lived up to expectations. It will be interesting to see if organizers Cream manage to fix the problems with their 2023 series, or if Creamfields South will die out as quickly as it appeared.

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Words: Gem Stokes

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Jan G. Gilbert