A green and hilly bus ride to Brockwell is as picturesque as South London gets. The quiet route across this part of town is a great change of landscape from the oversaturated East End, where most other London festivals are held. We’re here for Found Festival – a house and techno event that’s in its third year of existence. As we get off the bus, the surroundings and the crowds around us seem like we’re heading to a smaller day party rather than a five-stage festival.
Things get a bit more festival as we sit down with a few cans outside the entrance: people dressed as hippies grinned at you on arrival, holding signs reading “FREE HUGS”, a shockingly offensive number of white girls in bindis, copious amounts of glitter and hot pants on (what started off as) a very cloudy day. We have no answer to how this became the idea of festival chic in Britain.
The organisers not only run Found, but Born & Bred, Heritage, Ceremony, and several other festivals. It’s a distinct portfolio and the experience translates into how Found feels: it’s a smooth affair without many annoyances that similar festivals come with. We can’t recall queuing up for more than 30 seconds to buy a drink at any point. Bars were spread well and thank fuck, beers came in large cans. Even when inside tents, Found felt like more of a day out; which is pretty rare, although the price didn’t exactly match.
The stages, which were mostly inside large tents, were slightly quiet but otherwise, great. A few tokens later nuances like noise didn’t really matter that much anyway. Musically, Palms Trax started things off for us and he played a set that was fun but not too memorable. The Black Madonna was fantastic – full of energy and warmth, she worked her way through a selection that was perfect for an early afternoon. A dedicated fan stood at the front of the crowd holding a copy of her manifesto.
KiNK was next and seconds in, he was in front of the booth smiling at the crowd and launching beats. His set had great energy as he tried to get the crowd involved which of course, worked. As his grin grew wider, so did the shapes thrown on the dancefloor.
If you look back at it, the programming was a bit odd. Most of what we came to see finished by around 6pm, to then give space to much more established artists, with Ron Trent, George Fitzgerald and Guy Gerber closing the biggest stages.
To add to it, stages seem to have been programmed by not much more than genre, especially later on in the day. A tent with house classics in it, another with one with tech house and a techno finish on the main stage. A poor effort that oversimplifies music, puts it into boxes, and removes an element of discovery that all festivals should come with.
There was also a stage that you had to pay extra for. It had a Burger & Lobster food stand in it, cleaner toilets, couches and a few other amenities that screamed VIP. It had excellent programming, but it’s a ridiculous and elitist idea to have to pay for one of the stages.
Despite all this, we had an amazing day out. Found was a perfectly sized and well-organised festival with a line-up that’s unafraid to take a few risks.