Live report: Xland Festival 2012

Friendly Fires, Legowelt, DJ Krush and a whole lot of dragonflies

Live report: Xland Festival 2012

Photo gallery: Xland Festival 2012

You know you've come to the right event when there are more dragonflies than people on the dancefloor. Such was the case when Time Out arrived at Sagamiko Resort Pleasure Forest for last weekend's Xland Festival – the DJ-centric jamboree formerly known as Freaks Village (and, before that, Freaks Music Festival). Quite what necessitated all those name changes is anyone's guess, but the basic format of the fest didn't seem to have altered much: the lineup of DJs and bands was still just as eclectic, and the attendance still a lot lower than it perhaps could have been.

We got there just in time to catch the second half of Seahawks' set, though the duo's space disco lost much of its charm when the heavens opened, in the first of a couple of torrential downpours to hit the site during the event. 'It'll probably stop raining when we finish,' deadpanned Shugo Tokumaru when he came on next, and thankfully it didn't even take that long: by the time he'd passed the mildly self-indulgent Jeff Buckley midpoint of his set, the skies were already clearing. Playing with just a drummer and accordion-wielding multi-instrumentalist accomplice, Tokumaru included a few songs from forthcoming album In Focus?, occasionally reaching levels of complexity that brought to mind Dirty Projectors' Dave Longstreth.

The temperature got positively sweltering while Joe Clausell was playing, which the NYC house veteran's choice of tunes – one slamdunk classic after another – did little to alleviate. Heading from that to watch Ulrich Schnauss over on the main stage felt a little like swapping champagne for flat Fanta; the ambient noodler sounded damp even without the aid of the rainstorm that erupted shortly after he left the stage. Taking over as everyone within earshot dashed for cover, DJ Krush soldiered on regardless, with a set that sounded almost like a personal mixtape, ranging from recent dubstep to Funkadelic and DJ Shadow.

Over on the second stage, Canadian producer Deadbeat had to perform from behind a plastic rain sheet, lending a surreal tinge to his digital dub excursions. Reworking some of the choice cuts from new album Eight, he ran from head-nodding skanks to techno and The Bug-grade dancehall, helped no end by the ebullient contributions of MC Tikiman. For our money, it was the best set of the entire day.

As darkness fell, much of the crowd headed back to the main stage – where, unlike at the earlier Freaks festivals, an indie band occupied the headliner slot. Friendly Fires rose to the occasion with a buoyant, sweat-drenched set that might nevertheless have benefitted from being shorter (did we really need to hear all but one of the tracks off last year's Pala album?). The crowd lapped it up, but after a while our attention began to drift to the sounds emanating from the adjacent DJ stage, where Legowelt span a two-hour set of analogue house, electro and acid that sounded better every time we went back to it. Which was often.

Photo gallery: Xland Festival 2012
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By James Hadfield
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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