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Reknaw - early history


Reknaw - Early History

Reknaw was started in 1994 by a handful of squatters in the Stoke Newington area. Although the previous year's Hackney Homeless free festival had been a huge success there was a feeling that local punk bands had been badly under-represented so they demanded to be given their own stage at the next festival. The name was an in-joke insult chosen at the last minute. Featuring amongst other Stricknein D.C., Coitus and Dread Messiah the costs of the stage were covered by running a not very discreet bar. When at the end of the day this resulted a in a profit of £300 the decision was made to invest the money in a P.A. that could be used in risky scenarios.

Soon afterwards Reknaw started providing P.A. for a long running series of weekly gigs in the Albion pub. Equipment was blagged left and right and the sound was often pretty rudimentary but it provided the opportunity to start regularly booking bands from all over England and a venue for touring foreign punks. From the start however part of the idea of Reknaw was to get punk played at squat parties and they managed to start doing rooms at big underground parties with rigs like Immersion, Unsound and Mayhem. At the time this would often mean 10 rooms of loud Techno and one room of underpowered punk rock.

In the early days Reknaw was very much a punk community sound system and although a lot of the work was done by a handful of people it benefited from scores of others mucking in. Equipment was a constant problem; meant to be self-funding it was very hard to make enough money to do more than replace breakages.

When the Albion came to an end other pubs were found and Reknaw also started providing the P.A for the famous 121 squat in Brixton but the focus stayed very much on all-night parties. They also managed to get their own stage at a number of urban free-festivals including Deptford Free, Big Sexy and Volcano.

Personnel and equipment were given a badly needed boost around 98/ 99 when a number of veterans from the Peckham Dole House got involved and an equipment sharing deal was made with the Drum and Bass outfit Amorphous. With this new lease of life Reknaw ran all night stages at several large illegal festivals including ten days outside Glastonbury 2000 and Stonehenge 2001 (Which ended up happening in Corby!) By this stage a kind of musical synthesis had happened where they were putting on bands like Police Bastard followed by drum and bass d.j.s. A high point was the last Exodus festival where they were the only stage allowed to run all night.

When 121 was evicted south London squatters followed up with a series of memorable venues including the Button Factory and the Bacon Factory where Reknaw provided the P.A. By this stage years of lugging equipment about had taken its toll and one by one the original crew stopped being actively involved but leaving the rig to carry on with ever more success ......

- Kel

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