The colourful and nomadic club-night, Animal Crossing announced the first outing of their new two-day festival, Summer of Love a few months back. With a huge line up of house DJs across three stages, as well as a record fair and wellness activities, it felt like a breath of fresh air for both the city and the festival circuit before it had even kicked off. We headed down to the inaugural edition on August 27 and 28 to soak up the excitement and breakdown our five favourite sets of the weekend.

Ethel kicks off the trommel stage: On arrival we were greeted by a huge Summer of Love sign at the security checks, which set the tone for the vibrant décor on every possible surface – the attention to detail was brilliant. How to turn a warehouse and parking lot into a festival site. We stumbled into the trommel stage to find Berlin based selector Ethel warming up the crowd nicely with a blend of italo, house and broken-beat. With the remnants of freedom day still fresh in the mind and the buzz around the new festival palpable, her delicate selections edged up the energy until the stage was heaving. The heavens opened, but we were under cover.

Junki Inoue digs deep: A theme of the weekend was Romanian minimal house DJs, in fact it was the first time Arpiar had played together in Manchester for over 10 years. The first of these was Priku, who showed his class in the cavernous, Love Factory, hosted by Gottwood. But after a tip off from the boss of Vinyl Pimp, the resident record store for the day, we headed back to the trommel stage to catch Junki Inoue, a Japanese, London based vinyl aficionado. Effortlessly switching up the vibe with his eclectic selections, Junki impressed with his smiles, grooves and collection of mesmeric records, despite a fair few needle jumps. Needless to say, the Funktion One sound was impeccable across both outdoor stages.

Dyed Soundorum does his thing: While the headliners almost exclusively played the most minimal house around, there were a fair few deep house DJs scattered across the lineup, churning out basslines to the delight of the crowd. The most prominent of which was probably Dyed Soundorum, known for his moody, driving sets. He didn’t disappoint this time, and there were many memorable moments across his three-hour set in the Love Factory, hosted by Animal Crossing. The long sets over the weekend were a lovely touch, each DJ had plenty of time to get a vibe going on their stage.

Sunshine for the summer of love: The outdoor chill out area really came into its own on the Sunday after a rainy Saturday, with slow reggae churning out across the courtyard for most of the day for those needed a break from house. With a fair few food stalls, a load of places to perch and plenty of loos, it was a comfortable place to spend the weekend. Not a mean feat, on such a small site for a festival. There were yoga classes, sound baths and an open conversation with MIND charity, and a good range of food stalls and bars. Not to mention the Alexandra Park drum circle making an appearance.

Arpiar close out the main stage: It’s a rare occasion to catch the who’s who of the now infamous Romanian minimal house scene on one lineup, in the UK, or anywhere for that matter. But somehow Animal Crossing managed to get them all there, complete with sound-system and mind-boggling visuals from their in-house projectionist. Arpiar (Raresh b2b Rhadoo b2b Petre Inspirescu) filled the room with their vibey, atmospheric beats for four hours, bringing the festival to a hypnotic, mindful end – a fitting one, given the themes of wellness, 1960s hippy culture and free love in all the branding and décor. We’re pretty sure Shonky and Traumer shelled it down outside on the trommel stage though…

Animal Crossing’s Summer of Love festival will return to Manchester on Saturday 27th – Sunday 28th August 2022. It looks like it’ll be at a whole new location…M1 5DD


Leo Burrell
Published on:
Tue 31 Aug 2021