Pangaea returned to the Students’ Union for the second time under its end-of-freshers guise, offering the promise of a musically rewarding night after an entire week of traffic light parties and first-week debauchery. ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ was the theme of this year’s installment, though a sweep of the generally poor fancy dress efforts in the substantial queue wouldn’t have given that away.
Upon entering, we were sidetracked from our reconnaissance mission by the familiarly tantalising synth of Joy Orbisson’s ‘BRTHDTT’ emanating from BPM and Frontin’s ‘Tent in the Trees’. Dragging ourselves away, a brief tour of the venue suggested a lower visuals budget than previous incarnations, though a giant serpent-head DJ booth in Academy 2 and large stage set in Academy 1 added some atmosphere. Down in Club Academy, Andrew Ashong played to a sparse but appreciative audience as he took us on an eclectic and soulful journey from Latin America to Africa. Subsequent songs saw Ashong jumping borders and continents, finally finishing his set with Quantic’s beautiful ‘Not So Blue’ – though we couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed about the omission of warm-tummy-track ‘Flowers’.
Where Ashong finished Marcellus Pittman picked up. Taking the funky thread and running with it, Pittman upped the ante. Soon a worthy audience had gathered to boogie, lured by the enticing mix of funk and soulful house. At this point we took a break from So Flute’s nicely curated basement party to check out what the rest of Pangaea had to offer. Fever 105 and Fuse drew crowds for their silent disco, as did the Rubadub gang in Academy Three. Elsewhere, headliners Mike Skinner and Craig Charles delivered the goods for a baying audience, whilst Pangaea regulars Shy FX riled up the main stage with their distinctively high energy set. Soon after – and somewhat predictably, following last years form – mass exodus ensued and upon returning to watch So Flute founder, Danuka, we were greeted instead by Students’ Union staff closing up shop.
The remaining wide-eyed partiers congregated in the remaining open rooms to see the night out, including an agreeably trippy screening of The Jungle Book in the ‘AV Tent’. Now in its second year as a freshers event, some issues seem to persist; namely, that reports of students not being let in due to overcrowding could be so easily remedied if people were directed away from the pleasant outdoor areas and main stages and into some of the more secluded areas where there are real gems to be found. Naturally, it takes time to learn to navigate the Students’ Union, but even the staff were unsure of the stage names which didn’t help matters. Furthermore, with so much emphasis normally placed on Pangaea being an audio and visual delight, it seems strange to have somewhat neglected this aspect of the party.
Despite being an undoubtedly fun night, the event lacked the coherence and festival-like atmosphere of the winter and summer editions. Thankfully, come January’s return of Panagea, the early-retiring freshers will no doubt be au fait with the layout of the admittedly tortuous Students’ Union and – as is the way in Manchester – developed a keen interest in electronic music and recreational substances. We look forward to seeing you then!