To the dismay of the dedicated Big D team, the weather was not permitting. A deluge of damp paper lanterns and soppy ribbons hanging from waterlogged bushes littered the grassland between the two stages. What could have been a buzzing festival-esque outdoorsy atmosphere had devolved into a mushy field of knick-knacks. However I have to admit I did pause for a minute to admire the ornate handiwork that had gone into the toilet sign, letting the muddy water seep into my socks.
The typhoon conditions meant that the warm-up acts that I was so keen to see had been thrust inside to a stuffy corner of courtyard. As the reggae band jammed to casual passers-by and a small audience consisting mostly of the circus acts who had also retreated in from the fray, the treasures of the enchanted garden were somewhat restrained. The most understated musical performances of the night happened here, complimenting drum and bass with live drumming and live bass from some of the best young jazz musicians in the country. Unfortunately the reggae band and Jack McNeill could not be properly appreciated in this slightly cramped space where people had to navigate their way around swinging glow sticks. However I think the groupies who soldiered through would agree that they put on a great show. Some of the best music of the night happened here!
The ‘Far Away’ stage couldn’t have been more different on the stroke of midnight as Pendulum took to the stage in front of an erupting mosh pit. Of course if you had a brief flirtation with Pendulum as a teenager as I did you’ll understand that as soon as I heard ‘Ladies and gentlemen…’ I was in the middle of it shedding all the water I had left in my body. D bar is not known for its prowess in crowd control but it’s safe to say it was at an all-time low. In my regrettably sober state it was definitely too much after about five minutes. Pendulum and MC Verse provided the entertainment I thought they would, but I couldn’t escape the feeling that it was all a bit of a joke. Perhaps a few more drinks down the hatch would have solved the problem.
It turns out that it was in fact a genius ploy to attract the dead meat away from the real fun. The adept party-goers were already getting waved thanks to Jaymo & Andy George in the Void, whom I only managed to catch the end of. However queues were looking minimal! I discovered our real headliner in the form of Shadow Child. His dark techy house accompanied by an impressive lighting show transformed my night from bordering on mediocre to refreshing and quite unique. It’s safe to say that new popular dance music genres such as house and techno and the culture they bring with them have been on the rise throughout the UK for quite some time now, and have become even more popular in York over the last few years. Shadow Child stole the show making this year’s Big D not only much better than last years, but more musically creditable.
As I snuck on backstage for a bit of a boogie, we were played out by residents from two of our biggest Uni-based labels: Drop and Breakz, who are more celebrated than ever amongst York’s party populace. Arian and Keon provided us with that illicit taste of grime that every avant-garde Yorker seems to lust for these days. At 3am I could say quite frankly that I’d had my taste of Derwent’s Big D and felt very much fulfilled. It’s important to give praise where it’s due, and university organised events like this need it so they can get better in the future. This year’s Big D had its faults as always, the weather being a massive one, but that was evidently only a minor setback for the organisers who dealt with it comfortably. Big D 2015 was without a doubt the most enjoyable nightlife event I’ve attended on campus, and one of the best nights I’ve had in York for a while. I would call it an example of how to make the best of what you’ve got.