Brighton’s always been a mystery to promoters. Whilst the city is famous for punching well above its weight when it comes to nightlife and boasting a population defiantly more alternative than their London brethren, Brighton’s attempts at festivals have in the past failed like so many art-student fashion-lines.

Enter Shakedown.

Festival promoter Steve Jones was well aware of Brighton’s eye-of-the-storm effect, however a successful first year in 2011 persuaded all parties to go one bigger this year. Having just spent the weekend at Shakedown, it looks like Brighton has got itself a regular festival.

The Venue

Shakedown’s success lay in its simplicity: Set in Stanmer Park next door to Sussex Uni’s campus, the venue location meant an easy supply of buses from the town centre to base camp as well as an easy supply of beautiful people arriving on said buses. The layout had a main stage, a Supercharged arena featuring a predominantly bass-heavy line-up and a Hed Kandi stage in the VIP area, all of which presented reassuringly pounding sound systems. Legions of bars and food stands provided decent going-rate fare, whilst the event space itself was big enough to park on the grass for the essential Hot Dog Break but small enough that by the afternoon it was busy enough to give it the essential Festival Atmosphere. Meanwhile, proximity to the town centre meant the strategic pre-session in Wetherspoons kept everyone’s finances as sunny as the weather as well as allowing those planning on a bender easy access to afterparties and those inspired by Hed Kandi to move back toward London to make late trains.

The Line-Up

Following along the same lines of keep-it-simple, headliners were on the chart/urban side, with Dizzee Rascal, Katy B and Professor Green, the equally popular Supercharged arena included Chase & Status, Knife Party, Zane Lowe and Shy FX and Hed Kandi brought in Seamus Haji and the Hed Kandi Residents.

The Vibe

Maybe it was Brighton. Maybe it was because it was no longer summer. Whatever reason, the entire day had a pleasantly relaxed vibe to it. The Summer’s Croatian festivals had a Sleeping-Is-Cheating theme. SW4 as a frontrunner London festival had a manic Must-Sample-Every-Single-Name-On-Line-Up-For-At-Least-20-Mins look. Here it appeared frequent trips for food & smoke breaks, groups of festival goers chatting or pausing for Instagram-Shoots were the order of the day. The crowd were young, firmly in the 18-25 group, and luckily, despite the city being famously open-minded, there were a lack of Toddlers Doing Techno. Pound-for-pound the best time to be had was in the Supercharged arena where, despite queues to get into the tent (a first at a festival surely?) the crowd inside were a happy mix of seasoned raver and along-for-the-ride-hot-person.

Best Moments

Shy FX pulled out a long list of old-school bangers in the Supercharged arena, followed in the evening by Zane Lowe played a masterful cross-genre set. MCs behaved themselves, DJs were largely kept away from the mics and changeovers were slick.


Shakedown kept it familiar. There were no stunts, experimental line-ups, or upcoming genres being pushed. There were few headaches, save perhaps the queue for the Supercharged arena. Credit to the promoters is due: Brighton has been itching for a festival to call its own and Shakedown has put together an efficient, affordable and after a second successful year, proven template.

Brighton got its festival.