Music events this summer in Gunnersbury Park

Secret Cinema in July

Secret Cinema are returning to the Park in July. They will set up at the bottom of the sports field, north of the Potomac Lake, with their vehicles travelling down from the top of the park entrance at Lionel Road. Their application stated that they want to start building their arena on 13th June, that their evening events would run from 13th July to 31st July, and that they would have cleared the site by 5th August.

Their arena will accommodate an audience of 4,600 (and up to 400 behind-the-scenes workers). Their screen will be in the south-west corner of their site, with the sound travelling towards the north-east.

They have a very controlled process of admitting people and of managing their departure, and we have not heard of any major difficulties with this company in previous years.

Festival Republic in August

On 12th April a Zoom “consultation” meeting gathered to hear what Festival Republic was proposing to put on in the Park this year.

Two events were described, for 13th and 20th August. Since then we have learnt a third event will be on Sunday 21st August.

As the CIC is looking to replace the revenue lost during the Covid pandemic, and as they need to be flexible when booking acts, the CIC’s application is for up to 7 one-day concerts between the 12th and the 21st August. So at present (26th May) there are four unfilled slots.

Setting up will be from 4th August and dismantling will end by 27th August. It will be on the site of the old cricket pitch between the changing rooms and the bottom of the Park.

The planning application is for a maximum audience of 20,000 (although the CIC’s publicity refers to a capacity of 25,000, which may include event staff). This is a significant difference from the 40,000 that Lovebox aimed for. We (the Friends) were saying after the last Lovebox concert that it was final proof that neither the park nor the surrounding area could take such numbers.

The other significant difference was the quality of the team put up by Festival Republic. They seemed much more committed and engaged than the dull bunch of grey men we have had to listen to before.

They had done their homework and made proposals which should diminish some of the previous difficulties (such as using all the Park’s entrances and exits). There was some disquiet about encouraging people wanting to get to Ealing Broadway to go via the suburban estate roads rather than the North Circular, but as pedestrians are free to go where they want, we know this route has been well used in the past.

There will be only one sound stage with a smaller, more sophisticated sound system than Lovebox used, so it is possible there will be less of the intrusive noise affecting the neighbours. The stage will face the north-east. The music will end at 10.30 (10.15 on the Sunday) and the organisers expect the park to be clear by 11.

The event on 13th August is Rex Orange County (aka Alex O’Connor), an English singer/songwriter with a following amongst 18-25 year olds, who were described to us as unlikely to cause bother and very likely to use public transport rather than cars. We don’t know about any supporting acts.

The event on 20th August is Rüfüs Du Sol, an Australian 3-man group playing electronic dance music, and attracting an audience of 25–50 year olds, professional people looking for a good night out.

The event on 21st August is Electric City, who describe themselves as London’s freshest bass and electronica festival. A week later at Clapham Common their Drum and Bass headliners are Chase & Status, but we don’t know yet which acts or DJs will be performing at Gunnersbury.

Waterworks in September

Promoted by Team Love, the Waterworks event sets up an enclosure of 6/7 inward-facing stages from which DJs play electronic music to their closest audiences of perhaps 2000 people around each stage, so we are expecting a total attendance of 20,000. Their claim is that this type of event makes much less of a noise impact on local residents than a single one-directional stage. Their tag line is “Celebrating Independent Electronic Music Culture” and the advertisements list 71 performers and DJs. It is scheduled for 12 o’clock until 10.30 on Saturday 17th September. The organisers describe the average age of their audience as 28 years old. They held their first event at Gunnersbury on 25th September 2021, there was a feedback meeting afterwards to consider how it went, and the CIC invited them back for this year on the basis of that meeting.

We have asked Event Umbrella, who deliver Gunnersbury’s events, for the proposed location of this event in the park, but have not yet heard from them.

James Wisdom
27 May 2022