"An ever-growing Mum friendly balter"
At a reasonable ticket price, the Rock The Park (based in Wrexham, Wales) offered a fantastic line-up of DJs, falling under the old-school electronic umbrella. Due to the event being rescheduled three years later, many big names dropped out, such as, Vengaboys, Basshunter, Hixxy and Alice DJ. This definitely did not compromise what the day had in store. Notably, an enjoyable lack of MCs throughout the day enabled the DJs’ mixes to do all the talking.
Firstly, It was remarkable to watch ItaloBrothers pause their set to ensure the safety of a crowd member. I rated this highly. And despite Andy Whitby playing 30 minutes later than scheduled (according to a Facebook post) an upbeat, electro folk band, emulating a Gothic ABBA, retained the audiences engagement.
On being told that Special D was "stuck on the plane" (with what I thought a poor excuse) he did in-fact arrive, and only 1.5 hours late. Luckily catching his set by pure coincidence as there were no clear instruction of performance delays or updated set times.
In all honesty, a schedule board or handbook wouldn’t have gone amiss.
Cascada’s vocals were immaculate, like liquid gold. She paraded body confidence in a fitted black corset and gorgeous glittery bodysuit, while two high-energy male dancers accompanied her on stage. A sense of suspense for Darren Styles’ performance due to a lack of set-list information online. Expectedly, he did not disappoint, playing my personal favourite ‘Us Against The World’, many off his classics, as well as, remixes of current music. Which of course is essential for introducing the older generation to new electronic music & the new generation to a must-know artist in music history.
Music seemed quieter after 8pm, besides Scooter’s musical masterpiece, which is understandable and encouraged! As the festival has previously encountered local noise level complaints. Scooter showcased mesmerising digital visuals, fire effects, confetti explosions and professional dancers. We regrettably had to miss classics, such as 'Pretty Green Eyes', 'Rhythm Is A Dancer' & 'Heaven', due to multiple clashes that seemed to occur past 6pm.
The Jules & Kath stage experienced technical issues but this did not interfere with set times, nor blemish the overall sound quality or experience. Personally, DJ Sammy had the best lighting design in conjunction with his phenomenal set, the clarity of sound was euphoric and in general the performance was above other artists that possess a bigger following.
I could have happily spent more time there had Scooter’s set not clashed. But c’est la vie!
Noticing that there was not nearly enough vegetarian or gluten-free options, or any vegan options, security were understanding and accommodating to bringing in dietary necessary food, being that external food was not allowed.
Relatively diverse food-stalls existed, looking & smelling incredibly appetising! Be it, Pizza, Gyros, burgers, or grill. A corner shop was also available, but at a price! I found that the multiple drinks bars still encountered large queues, due to a weak internet connection resulting in a slow card system.
However, there was a handy ‘cash only queue’!
I was delighted to witness the number of stalls and entertainment for such a young festival, including circus and motorcycle stunts taking place during and after sets for continuous entertainment, a number of fairground rides and bouncy castles, as well as, a live mermaid! And festival-style independent clothing rails.
Copious amounts of toilets (including disability-access toilets) were available and replenished on site, as well as, a proactive medical welfare tent that were willing to assist with my dietary concerns. Shelter provided by three large marquees seemed big enough to hide enough people from the rain if necessary, fortunately, the sun decided to stick around!
The option to recycle litter was unavailable but there were plenty of sizeable dustbins scattered around. A reusable cup system could have reduced abundant plastic cup littering. Disappointed that there were no water refill stations, purchasing bottled water was an option, besides bringing a personal sealed water bottle.
Food and beverage prices were not extortionate but at expected festival prices.
On entry, staff were extremely efficient - it didn’t take any longer than 30 minutes after initial opening to enter! Overall, the stewards, security guards and photographers that I encountered were approachable, informative and helpful. Additionally, meticulous litter pickers worked hard throughout the day.
At first glance, everything seemed relatively accessible; the festival ground was flat, step-free, and all fairground rides were seated. Although there was no seating in the arena, personal stools and blankets were allowed. As the stages were situated at opposite ends of the field, simultaneous sounds did not clash. Bass tones and beats resonated an appropriate amount and nothing was too overbearing. I didn’t personally feel the need to wear my earplugs for sensitivity or protection.
Though there was no display of queer advocacy there was definitely an air of queer tolerance, while showcasing a slightly male-heavy line up, it didn’t seem overly masculine.
However, noticing an incredible lack in racial diversity amongst the artists, this, in theory, could have led to the same in the crowd.
Complimentary festival goers appreciated my alternative yet colourful outfit, which helped towards a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Well-trained sniffer dogs also contributed to a family-friendly safe-space atmosphere which is a bonus.
A small yet spacious festival with a free-of-charge carpark situated immediately outside, and a convenient, inexpensive shuttle-bus, directly from the town centre right to Rock the Park’s doorstep. Despite all there was to offer, I felt a children’s play area and potential interactive street performers could have been a beneficial addition for everyone, including those who can’t enjoy the fairground rides or the crowds.
Initially, traffic management was an issue but staff were willing to assist with our vehicle being blocked in for the weekend with only a day ticket. After dark, regardless of supervisor permission to re-enter after checking our barricaded vehicle, we were denied re-entry by alternate staff, causing the remaining half hour of Scooter’s set being stuck in the carpark instead.
Rock The Park’s social media was a little sparse and outdated, I wasn’t sure if the event was still going ahead at times, and an inactive Instagram page was confusing.
Overall, a really enjoyable experience with a lot to offer and room for improvement as most festivals face. The event presented a captivating blend of music, entertainment, and atmosphere, showcasing both strengths and areas for growth. Rock The Park succeeded in offering a memorable day for attendees, leaving ample room for improvement and anticipation for future editions.