Posted on January 1, 2022
Review: Celtronic Festival 2021
Words by Peter Toal & Michael Savage / Design by Michael Savage
Our introduction to Derry was Sandino's, with the venue just upstairs. This was a cool and eclectic bar filled with photos, flags, scribbles, iconic figures, and history reminders. We started the weekend on the right foot.
We didn't know what to expect from the weekend at all really. We went in blind like you'd avoid trailers to a movie you've been dying to see. We were completely oblivious to the rich history of Celtronic and electronic music in general in Derry. "What if the whole thing was a scam?" was going through our heads.
The event was very much real and we were blown away! What a massive selection of downtempo, ambient techno and genre breaking music coming out of the whole dubstep scene. We were blitzed with amazing performances from Lorraine James, Batu, and OR:LA across the night. As the crowd's inhibitions let up, the dance floor became an intimate scene. Visual production values impressed us too.
Lorraine James would have to be our pick of Thursday night. We hadn't heard of her before and she amazed us with her live hyperdub beat constructing set. So many times during the set, we were just like “What the fuck is this?” (In the best way possible).
The Nerve Centre
The biggest attendance of the weekend was in The Nerve Centre on Friday Night.
Gentleman of the weekend, Jordan Villa, opened up Friday night with some well known heaters from the year to keep us on our toes.
We got talking to the two lads from SETS before the weekend so we were excited to see how their live performance held up after enjoying their release just that morning. Needless to say they smashed it! Their own productions went down very well with the crowd. These lads should be on everyone's radar in 2022.
Friend of the page, Cartin, interweaved live guitar between spacey grooves to keep us in a blissful trance. His live setup was impressive to watch, himself locked in to keeping the energy above and beyond. Carrying the momentum from Lorraine James, these live shows we experienced would continue to blow our minds. And none other to keep that flow going than
KiNK! Ahhh KiNK, what a gig. We'll remember that one for a long time. His ability to work with the crowd live, fix any hiccups swiftly, and put on a show is like nothing we could compare to. His energy was through the roof!
On Saturday, we returned to the Nerve Centre for round two. This was the night for the heavies. We were used to the dry ice by now in the room, making us feel comfortable from the moment we stepped into the main room, before our ears got assaulted with some of the best industrial noise featuring bass, gabber, and dark dark techno. This was a ruthless, no holds barred night.
Stand out gig of the night was Giant Swan for their outrageous vocal-led performance. These guys are pushing boundaries and we couldn't get enough of their experimental noise. Working favourites like 55 Year Old Daughter and Pandaemonium into their relentless, no breather set was surreal to see live. They then ended on what we could only sum up as a 20 minute wall of skull-rattling bass frequencies, continuously stacked and tucked underneath each other, creating a euphoric feeling in the body from being hit with so much force from the in-house system.
Next up was Overmono. The brothers have had a mega year with some of the best tracks of 2021, on top of coming out with a flawless Fabric Presents mix. Their DJ set proved their heavyweight status, dishing out gigantic sounding tracks in a 400 cap room. We felt privileged as a crowd to catch them in such an intimate setting. Ending on their remix of For Those I Love's “I Have a Love” felt like an endearing message of thanks to this small, tight-knit Derry crowd for sharing this intimate space for the short time they had here.
Special mention to Sunil Sharpe for shelling the crowd with that 200bpm goodness near the end of his set. How were we supposed to keep up? We were in awe of this genuine master of the craft, completely locked in with a seamless flow keeping us on our toes well into the after hours. One of the best sets we have caught in years.
After a heavy main course of techno in the Nerve Centre, Celtronic fixed up a lineup of easy-going disco and feel-good vibes in The Gweedore Bar on the closing Sunday night. This was a nice farewell to Derry as we danced with familiar faces from nights previous.
Groovy trax from Niall Gray, Queen & Disco, and Move D, that held us right and helped us send off this truly blissful weekend of Celtronic. It was surreal seeing Gerd Janson in this homely and chill bar, far from the settings we all have seen him in with his mega Time Warp parties, but that's what we were quick to realise about Celtronic, it's about great parties in small spaces for fantastic crowds.
A Special Weekend
A weekend of feeling more in tune with the electronic community, making new friends and feeling comfortable to dance. We've never felt as safe on a dancefloor before, something that is a true achievement to accomplish in itself. Celtronic had incredible staff, bouncers, and attendees that we had the pleasure to dance beside and we really appreciated the presence of the paramedics and No Phones Rule. Hats off to the crazy light shows from Visual Spectrum, audio systems, and rave stories from around Derry. Thank you everyone involved!