On the night of 26 October, it felt as though the entire youth population of Edinburgh had descended upon the Royal Highland Centre. Terminal V is chaotic in every single sense of the word. The day was punctuated with the regular sighting of adolescents in Halloween attire being wheeled about the place by the onsite paramedics. The organised stampeding of teenagers from Arena V to The Hangar resulted in various swamps being worked into the frozen ground. Beyond this, Terminal V is a prime example of how an electronic music festival should be run, playing host to an inconceivable bill of global artists.
Arriving before noon, the site of Terminal V could not have been further from what was expected. Within the confines of Young Farmers HQ, the cold October sun shone down on a series of hangars, each standing vast and empty in the hours before the festival go-ers arrived. Figures in high vis frantically moved around the venue with crates of Tennents, and there existed a general feeling of disbelief that within a few short hours, this quiet site would play host to some of the biggest names in electronic music.
As patrons began filing in, it became apparent that the most memorable aspect of Terminal V would be the bold fashion choices of its attendees, in addition to the weather. The frost which gripped Terminal V seemed to sink deep into your bones; the dreaded walk between each warehouse became a pilgrimage. Almost in an act of defiance to the October blight, a parade of devils, jokers, cats and soldiers navigated the festival with a near total disregard to the pneumonia which was likely settling in their lungs. In a way, this attitude is a testament to the popularity of Terminal V; even despite conditions which seemed designed to squash the soul of those attending, the palpable buzz of the crowds could not be dampened.
It is immediately evident that the organisers, Nightvision, have upped the ante from previous years. New space ‘The Hangar’ plays host to multiple bars, stages and a VIP area framed by antique arcade games. An oasis amid the chaos, the dimly lit bar which sat in the centre of The Hangar was barely visible through the smoke and lights which bled through from the Annie Mac Presents stage adjacent to it. Faraway characters danced on its wooden tables as neon masks flashed on the peripheral, it would be nightmarish if it did not feel so ecstatic.
For those braving the bleak trek, the Sneaky’s Stage provided a hub of local talent from Percy Main (EHFM) to Renata, providing the stage for a plethora of incredible artists. It was dynamic, but a constant bet for glorious tunes which garnered the most enthusiastic of hip-shaking. This stage, in all its variety, was a microcosm for the reality of Terminal V: a myriad of fortuitous music.
Arena V provided, without question, the most awe-inspiring spectacle of the night. The immense warehouse, big enough to accommodate a bar, stretched out for what felt like miles. From the roof hung a colossal lighting rig, which was dramatically raised and lowered at interval. Heading deeper inside the scale of the stage becomes apparent as its vast LED set comes into view.
Lights of every conceivable hue illuminated the crowd below as giants such as Maceo Plex and Ben Klock took to the decks. Klock was exceptional, his dark take on electronic music could not have been a more appropriate fit for ‘The Reckoning’; eerie vocal samples and metallic clanging were not only sonic bliss, but also a narrative on the mood of the festival. Also gracing the Arena V stage was Belgian producer Amelie Lens, whose atmospheric, minimal techno was entrancing.
As the lights came up on a deluge of pale-looking teenagers, bunny ears drooping and fake blood smudged about their faces, it was abundantly clear that in spite of the frost, ‘The Reckoning’ had cemented Terminal V as one of Edinburgh’s weightiest parties.
The day festival was an eleven-hour long celebration of the music which runs through the veins of Edinburgh and its party people. It was at times, dire, but the calibre of the artists performing there evidences the true scale of the festival, and of Edinburgh’s attachment to electronic music.
Terminal V returns in Easter 2020, presale open now.
Image: Ben Glasgow