This Year We Are FSTVL celebrates it’s 10th birthday and emanates from Upminster, Essex, attracting around 30,000 dance music revellers.
Arriving at the Saturday leg of the event, it was obvious how meticulously planned it was. Multiple bar areas meant minimal queuing for a drink. A huge amount of street food stalls covered all culinary cravings with the only criticism being too much choice, especially when I love Greek food and there’s 5 different stalls!
Despite the typical British bank holiday weather looming and a down pour incoming, the event shone through and delivered a wide spectrum of Dance music making this event a highlight of the 2023 festival calendar.
The festival line up for Saturday boasted some long standing stalwarts of the dance music scene as well as shining a light on some of the new blood emerging.

Example backed by DJ Wire were the first act we caught on the main stage with Example opening with his hit “Natural Disaster” as the good old British weather decided it was time for a shower… Not even the wet weather could keep his loyal fans away and Example exclaimed “This rain can F**k off” before launching into some freestyles as DJ Wire blended many well known anthems including Bou, Chase & Status’s “Badadan” which got a huge reaction. More on “Badadan’s” status as 2023’s certified festival anthem later on…

The majority of the We Are FSTVL line up focused on the 130-140bpm range of dance music which made the organisers choice to have two legends of the 170bpm scene as headliners for their mainstage cannot miss sets.
First up, “Mr Digital Soundboy” Shy FX showed just why he’s must see festival royalty.
Expertly blending his own hits “Shake your Body”, “Feelings”, “Bad Boy Business” as well as his remix of Protoje’s “Who Knows” kept his loyal listeners happy. It’s not just Shy’s selection that makes him so dangerous but his ability to blend two tunes seamlessly into one. Examples of this include his own “Roll The Dice” blended into the Nokia ringtone sampling “Trap Phone” by Bou and his “Badadan” blend into the “Balaclava vocals”.

Continuing with the Drum & Bass theme it was time for heads to roll from the man known as “The Executioner”, Andy C.
It’s easy to see why Andy C has won “best DnB DJ” many years in a row- his sets are full of high energy, expertly blended, break neck speed DnB. When Andy’s at festival you can always expect some sing along shenanigans via DnB remixes- whether humming the melody to Darude’s “Sandstorm, The guitar licks of The Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ “Don’t Stop” or belting out the words to Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams”, Andy C has got you covered. Andy also confirmed that “Badadan” is 2023’s festival anthem blending it into “Mr Happy” for a loud crowd pop.

To close up the event, Braintree based The Prodigy returned back to their home county with an impactful headline performance.
We were blown away by the scenery of their show- A pair of giant Technic 1210’s with The Prodigy’s ant logo adorning the slipmatts as well as huge flags of and a giant red “FU” sign signalled just what to expert from the group who effortlessly tread the fine line between the cultures of rave music and punk/ heavy metal.
Launching into “Breathe” as their opener it was deafening hearing the crowd singing along.
Energy levels climbed higher launching into “Omen” complete with red lasers and digital screen imagery that transported you into the bowls of hell itself.
Showing their awareness of their impact on dance music, The Prodigy performed two of their biggest hits but with a twist; both “Voodoo People” and “Fire Starter” got their original versions but also the tempo went higher performing the Drum n Bass remixes too. Watching the Pendulum remix of “Voodoo People” performed live at 170bpm by The Prodigy’s drummer was a sight to see. The aforementioned “Firestarter” also served as a tribute to Keith Flint- his silhouette as he appeared in the original video was carved out in lasers for the duration of the track as the crowd sang along in tribute.
Closing with “Smack My Bitch Up”, The Prodigy’s performance was a masterclass in how to stay relevant in dance music for over 30 years and a fitting way to close out an amazing day at We Are FSTVL 2023.

Photo credit: Kelly Coombes