Now in it's 3rd year, AVA Festival has grown to something bigger than anyone thought was possible; with the Belfast's Boiler Room a firm favourite amongst the dance music community. The conference provides priceless support in information for those currently involved and those trying to get into dance music in some capacity. The venue is a unique space that allows you to see varying acts in vastly different spaces and sizes, both indoors and out. And yet there is a local and friendly atmosphere, where everyone is welcoming and has the common goal to make this year the biggest yet, and there is no doubt that is was.
The day started with AVA Pro, where professionals from the music industry are given a space to network and share experiences before the madness of the next two days unfold. Thjings then moved back to T13 where the rest of the events would take place and the conference got under way with an opening keynote talk with techno legend Jeff Mills.
Once the dust had settled on the conference, the music performances kicked off immediately. With the outdoor BECKS stage opening just in time for the sun to come out and the atmosphere to truly get going. There was a smaller stage inside to get people ready for opening the main stage a few hours later.
It was Fatima Yahama which got the crowds moving to the BECKS stage, where he was due to play for an hour, just as the sun coming down and creeping through the gaps in the tent whilst people inside were going nuts.
With things winding down outside and the sun disappearing, people ventured inside for the main stage and acts like Moxie, Ben UFO warming the crowd up before Jeff Mills played his much anticipated 3 hour set 'Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind'
I was shooting all these acts throughout the day, whilst also providing live uploads for AVA's social media channels. This was tough, as it required me working from 9am well into the early hours of Saturday. This has become the 'norm' for AVA, with the live uploads from photographers providing better quality than smartphone content, and doing justice to the event in real time.
By the time Jeff Mills had begun his set, I was reeling from the day's events and was admittedly looking forward to seeing my bed. But it wasn't over yet and I made my way to the main stage to witness something that would give any photographer chills; no lighting for the performer and intermittent strobe/projection lighting.
So after an hour of watching this lighting show, which, in all fairness was quite impressive and pretty trippy. But it was a nightmare for me and the other photographers to shoot. We were given strict instructions not to take photos close up or on stage, so are hands were tied in that respect. I'm just glad I managed a handful of semi-useable images. Still frustrating I couldn't do better though.
The festival continued for the next two days, but I was only able to shoot the Friday. I'm making sure I'm free for all of next year, which will be moving location and doing it bigger and better than this year!