Friday Jun 3
Sat Jun 4, 2022
at Boston Manor Park
Words by: Harry Levin
Junction 2 puts the music before everything.
That may sound like the bare minimum for a music festival. After all, “music” makes up half of the term. But with every passing year, the music festival market biomes more saturated, and every new event has to find a way to stand out.
Junction 2, however, only needs the music to stand out. It premiered in 2016 on a June afternoon in London. According to Will Harold, co-founder of the festival, it was “born out of our passion for music,” and that passion has developed into one of the most in-demand music events of the year.
Looking back at Junction 2 rosters between 2016 and 2019, it becomes clear that diversity on all levels is a salient principle of their booking strategy. Each stage is curated more on energy rather than concrete details like tempo, label, or the Beatport category most likely associated with the artists in question.
By 2019 some of the most respected musical forces in the UK curated the stages.
The legendary nightlife institution Fabric took over (rather under) the infamous Bridge stage on the first night with a lineup primed for Room 1. Innervisions boss Dixon (who is practically always booked as a closer) played in the middle of the day while Fabric regulars Craig Richards and Ricardo Villalobos joined forces to close out the night with a back-to-back set.
London’s premier record shop, Phonica, also curated a stage in 2019, bringing the effortless funk of Motor City Drum Ensemble and Hunee under the tent at The Stretch, one of the chiller corners of Junction 2.
All this was happening while the festival founders booked the Main Stage, where Tale of Us and Maceo Plex rallied for six hours, each playing their own set then closing with a back-to-back.
For 2022, no stage hosts are announced, but there is a lineup, and it’s a surefire pick for one of the best of the year. On very few events do you see the throbbing techno of Kobosil next to the organic world music of Four Tet. There will also be live sets galore from the likes of 999999999, Dense & Pika, E-Dancer (A.K.A. Kevin Saunderson), and Fatima Yamaha.
But beyond the eclectic sounds, Junction 2 is an event that inspires loyalty among the artists. Adam Beyer has played every event starting in 2016 with his Drumcode friends in tow. Dixon will be returning for their third consecutive festival.
That kind of commitment to one event displays a deep connection to its values and a deep love for the energy. There is no doubt that love and harmony will come out in sets from regulars. Furthermore, it will be compounded after so much time off due to the pandemic and the fact that this will be the biggest Junction 2 yet.
Initially, Junction 2 hosted 10,000 people for a one-day affair, expanding to two days in its third year and hosting 30,000 people across an entire weekend for their latest edition.
Throughout that time, Junction 2 stayed at the same venue, Boston Manor Park, on the west side of London. The hallmark of the location is the stage known as The Bridge.
As the name would suggest, The Bridge lies beneath a highway that runs through the park’s center. With concrete and steel interlocking overhead while grass, trees, and steady-flowing streams flank the dancefloor, The Bridge offers an authentic underground experience punctuated by the serenity of nature.
This stage has stood strong since 2016 and serves as the nucleus of Junction 2. The event started with three stages and has since expanded to five stages over the three following years. Now the event allows attendees to fully explore the city-wrapped village green, enjoying the sights and (more importantly) sounds that fit the diverse environment.
There is a temporary indoor complex known as The Warehouse where experimental heavy hitters like Objekt and Amelie Lens have performed. Finally, the Woods is a shaded cove where the slower, sexier sounds of Nicolas Lutz and Ben UFO have a home.
Junction 2 does not offer VIP amenities to further their commitment to the music. Everyone is equal on the dance floor. Everyone pays the same price and gets the same sound and view. This is the type of festival people want post-COVID. After two years of forced separation, why seclude yourself at a festival by hiding away in VIP? Get on the dance floor and enjoy the energy of those around you.
That commitment extends beyond the event to the Junction 2 presence on the internet. Like many events, their website has a “news” section, but in this section, the considerable majority of the posts are dedicated to new music.
Regular pieces include monthly roundups of new releases, whether the artists have played Junction 2 or not. They’ve also curated an original mix series and two Spotify playlists. Junction 2 Selects is a biweekly curation from the event’s staff of favorites and hidden gems, while Junction 2 Office Picks is made up of songs specifically played in Junction 2’s office as the team is hard at work making the next festival happen.
Junction 2 returns to Boston Manor Park on June 3-4, 2022. Same weekend of the year. Same convenient location. Not much has changed about Junction since its launch in 2016. The music still comes first, and at this rate, it always will.