Review: Nachtdigital

Last weekend, I attended Nachtdigital for the first time. Earlier on in the year, I had carried out an interview with Jan Bennemann, one of the festival’s organisers, in which he said, “We put everything we have into Nachti, please come and see it for yourself!” I decided to do just as he suggested and, along with a group of nine friends, made the journey to Nachti’s home of Bungalowdorf Olganitz.


My intial thoughts as I walked through the entrance were “how lovely to have a live band welcome you in to a festival” and “Holy Shit, look at all these trees!” The official opening was not until 8pm, but there were already plenty of people there, most of whom were drifting about on the lake in all forms of inflatable vessels – it looked like a contest in who could boast the largest and most unique lilo (I was quite envious, as none of us had thought to bring a lilo with us). We took this opportunity to swim and explore the festival site, a picture of pale, rustic colour, surrounded by a large forest. Dotted around the place, an array of quirky art installations could be found, such as smoke-blowing eyes and a light projection of people dancing on the river.


Once the arena opened, we investigated the different stages, which consisted of a large, open air stage, where you could dance on the sand or in the lake, a smaller outdoor stage just next door, and a dark, sweaty tent with screens displaying visuals. The running order was kept secret, which had its advantages and disadvantages; on the one hand, it made me uneasy, as I didn’t know what to do with myself a lot of the time, and I worried about missing particular DJs. However, once I surrendered to it, I began to see the benefits and learned to follow my ears, rather than a timetable. In this way, Nachtdigital was more experience oriented than headliner oriented, and we tended to stumble upon things by accident, as you simply cannot plan there. One example was on that first night, when we spontaneously came across the “Rave Cave” and found ourselves in a tiny, obscenely hot and cramped (but at the same time fucking epic) club with low ceilings and ventilated padding on the walls, dancing to a DJ who goes by the name Fruchtfleisch. Unlike the other stages, there was no talking or half-assed dancing going on in the rave cave; everyone there was full of energy, flailing their limbs to tracks such as My People by Dwayne Jensen, Floorplan’s Tell You No Lie and Roy Keane by Brame & Hamo.

All of the stages offered a variety of music; there was no “Techno Stage” or “Live Stage”, making it all the more unpredictable. However we later discovered the Ambient Tent in a field outside the front gate where the music was, as you’d imagine, consistently mellow and hazy, and people were mostly sitting or lying down on sofas. There never seemed to be music playing at all stages at once, which made choosing where to dance that little bit easier and brought the crowd together more. On the second day though, we faced a dilemma: dance on the beach to the beautiful Housey melodies of Giegling founder DJ Dustin or venture out on the second Techno Safari of the day? (We’d already missed the first.) I picked the safari, while my friends opted to stay for Dustin, who they later claimed “had the whole festival in the palm of his hand”. According to them, a standout moment was when he played a dreamy remix of Aliyah’s One in a Million, a rather highly sought after track, though it is unlikely to get released. Meanwhile, on the safari, which consisted of a colourful truck adorned with inflatable animals, blaring out Techno (surprise, surprise) and a whole lot of people dancing behind, things were getting a little wild (excuse the pun). I didn’t follow it the whole way, as it was blisteringly hot and I was missing the lake, but a couple of hours later, I was on my way to take a nap in the shade when I heard the sweet sound of 90’s Trance coming from somewhere in the distance. Eventually, I discovered it was coming from the truck, which was now parked up in front of the entrance to the festival, where people were jumping up and down, fist pumping like there was no tomorrow. After playing a series of old school Trance and Techno bangers, the DJ thanked the crowd and the crowd in turn thanked the DJ, who turned out to be ‘very special guest’, Job Jobse.


Another surprise was walking into the arena at 10am on Sunday to find Richie Hawtin on the decks. I know his presence provoked different reactions, with some people being thrilled to see him, and others wondering why the hell such a mainstream artist was playing at this small, underground festival. I personally enjoyed his set, it was energetic, got the crowd going and he dropped a couple of classics, including Loop by LFO vs F.U.S.E. However, my favourite set of that day, and probably of the entire festival, was courtesy of DJ Polo, who had played in the tent just a few hours earlier. At that time, it wasn’t overly crowded, so we had a nice spot right at the front and plenty of room to dance. Polo’s set was deep and hypnotic, enabling us to get totally lost in the music, and he ended on an absolute gem – 747’s Pangea – my current favourite song.


Sunday afternoon was very relaxed, as everyone had clearly exhausted themselves by this stage, but the sun was still shining, the music still playing and the crowd still smiling. At one point, a water aerobics session was taking place in the lake, which looked like fun so I joined in. A few minutes in, a girl lost her ring and seemed pretty glum about it, so the instructors initiated a search for it. After several minutes of paddling around, stroking the lake floor, one person yelled “Found it!” and everyone began cheering and splashing. This really reflected the care and consideration for others shown by the crowd at Nachti, many of whom come back year after year. In my interview with Jan, he commented that the festival’s guests “make it what it is” and are “just the loveliest people on earth.” After that session in the water, I could see what he meant.


Speaking of lovely people, I feel a special shout-out should go to the Drug Scouts, simply because they were taking such good care of those who were lost/ tired/ scared/ tripping balls. It’s nice to know that there are safe spaces such as these at festivals for when it all becomes a bit much and you need to get away.

Nachtdigital culminated with everyone dancing wherever they could find a spot at the small outdoor stage, which was totally packed, as it was the only one still open. This was a great way to end the festival – everybody in one place, giving it their all to the sweet tunes being played by Dusseldorf’s Salon Des Amateurs resident, Jan Schulte, and savouring those last couple of hours. At 6pm sharp, the music stopped (they don’t mess around) and we slowly made our way back to our tents.


Overall, what I found impressive about Nachtdigital was the creativity and variety, combined with high-quality music and a loyal, knowledgeable following. The food options were basic but good, the location was beautiful and moreover, everyone was conscious of keeping the place clean – there was practically no litter on the ground and smokers even kept their cigarette butts in small, plastic containers that were given out at the entrance. I’m intrigued to see how the festival changes from year to year and what surprises will be in store for us next time round- bring on Nachti 2019!

Review: Nation of Gondwana

After carrying out an interview with André Janizewski, one of the organisers of Nation of Gondwana, I became intrigued by this festival and decided to go and see it for myself. What André said that had appealed to me was the size – a crowd of no more than 8,000 people – and that many of these people have been going to the festival ever since the 90’s, as it’s managed to retain its underground flair over the years. Sure enough, one of the things that stood out to me was the relaxed, old school vibe and the number of people who informed me that this was their umpteenth year at Nation of Gondwana because it’s “the best festival you’ll find in Germany”.


After arriving at the festival site and pitching our tents, my posse and I headed straight to See, a stage on a hill besides Lake Waldsee, where Valencia’s Upercent was playing the perfect warm-up set. It didn’t take long for us to get in to the zone; the crowd, music and art installations were all on point. I was particularly impressed by the creative use of plastic chairs, which made up the backdrop for the stage and hung, illuminated, between the trees. At around midnight, we decided to check out another stage, Birke, which was named after the trees beside it. The music in there was considerably more pumping, as local DJ Patrick Malessa was blasting out dirty Techno and the crowd were loving it, although I got the impression they were holding back somewhat – Saturday night is the big one at NoG, so I think many people were conscious of conserving their energy for the remainder of the weekend.


At Birke, we met a couple who told us about the “tiny club”, aptly named Schrank (cupboard), which could fit no more than thirty people. Like any good club, there was a sizeable queue outside, with a ‘one in, one out policy’ and we waited roughly 25 minutes, before being given the nod to enter. Small, sweaty and intense, Schrank was a unique experience and a lot of fun. We stayed there for about half an hour before deciding to return to See, where another local DJ, Sven von Thülen, was behind the decks. After a short, energy fuelled dance in front of a projector displaying psychedelic graphics in an area I dubbed the “Tripping Zone”, I decided the lake looked like a more appealing place to flail my limbs, so we kicked our shoes off and headed on in. To my surprise, the lake was really warm and I enjoyed splashing around in there and talking to experienced Nation goers, who had been coming back to the festival year after year. Eventually though, tiredness got the better of all of us, so we decided to call it a night and save ourselves for the following day.


Saturday morning began at Naked Lunch, where we’d had dinner the night before, a delightful food stand with equally delightful staff, who provided hungry ravers with pulled pork baps, quesadillas, “Raverbenedict” (like eggs benedict but better) and other tantalising savoury treats. With its cosy seating area, this became our regular mealtime spot and turned out to be a pretty good place for socialising too. It was there that we met a couple of guys who informed us the “official opening” would soon take place at See. I had no idea what to expect, but as we were sitting there on the hill, several middle-aged women casually walked up on to the stage and began waving to the audience. They introduced themselves as the Grünefelder Frauenchor (Grünefeld female choir) and went on to sing several feel-good songs, both in German and English, which had the crowd singing along and waving their hands in the air. One of the organisers even joined them at the end in singing the chorus to Hallelujah. Though it was quite bizarre seeing a choir perform at a festival, I thought it was a really lovely way of including the locals and making them part of the event.


Over on Wiese, the main stage, which had not yet opened the previous night, Beda was playing a mix of Dub Techno and Deep House. We danced for an hour or so but then our attention got drawn to the area right of the stage, where a group of firemen were hosing people down. I had seen photos of this and was hoping the firemen would be present at this year’s Nation, as it was damn hot! As soon as we spotted them, we ran over, kicked off our shoes, dropped all our possessions and began dancing under the water. It was incredible how this lifted us; I had been feeling a little groggy from lack of sleep, and the humidity wasn’t helping, but after ten minutes of being hosed down I was back on flying form, as were my friends. I also appreciated the fact that, once again, the festival organisers had involved people from the village of Grünefeld, who were clearly enjoying bringing all these people such happiness. They obviously have a great relationship with André and his partner.


As we knew it was going to be a big night, we decided to enjoy some downtime in the forest, where we dragged a groundsheet and our sleeping bags and dozed peacefully for a couple of hours beneath the beautiful pine trees. Then we headed back to our tents, donned our matching black and gold outfits, complete with glowsticks and neon blue and green water pistols, and made our way back to Wiese. Anja Zaube, another popular Berlin-based DJ, was treating the crowd to a deep, dark Techno set, which we raved to for a bit but I was conscious of getting over to See to catch the start of Radio Slave.


As darkness fell, different lights began to appear and the stages became a picture of colour, with pretty, decorated umbrellas twinkling and bobbing up and down amongst the merry ravers. Radio Slave played a fun, diverse set, featuring Butch’s remix of Basement Jaxx’ Good Luck, 90s banger, Needin’ You by David Morales and Deep Dimension’s current dancefloor destroyer So 1992. A few minutes in, we met a very likeable German guy, who repeatedly told us how much he enjoyed our energy and intensity and strongly suggested we head back to Wiese for Joel Mull as soon as Radio Slave’s set was over. We did as he said and, although we only caught the last forty minutes, it was definitely worthwhile, as those forty minutes were probably my musical highlight of the weekend. We rocked up around the time he dropped one of my favourite old school tracks, Age of Love by Jam & Spoon, then it was nothing but raw, pumping Techno after that. The lasers on that stage also completely blew my mind and, combined with the music, sent my excitement and energy levels into overdrive. After Joel’s set, we stayed to see the mighty Daniel Avery play until around 2pm, by which time we were in dire need of a short break.


We took a leisurely stroll around the festival site, during which we encountered a cosy clothes printing store with a tea bar, where a few people were swaying to mellower sounds. We stayed there for a bit to chill and watch the world go by, but knew we’d probably doze off if we spent too much time there, so once again we made our way to See to dance to 80s grooves, courtesy of Gerd Janson, up at our favourite spot on that hill. At that time, there were even more lights and some seriously mad, trippy visuals over the lake, which try as I might, I could not get my head around (and I was stone cold sober). We finally decided to call it a day soon after that, and the three of us returned to our tents feeling ultra satisfied.


Sunday morning began with a hearty brunch, followed by a much-desired hosing down by the legendary Feuerwehrmann, which woke us up nicely. We continued to dance in the water to the sounds coming from Wiese, played by iconic German DJ Monika Kruse, who, like many others, claims that Nation of Gondwana is her favourite festival. Her set was the perfect start to the day, everyone around us appeared to be in a good mood and it was clear to see how much Monika enjoyed being there; she didn’t once stop smiling! More exploring led us to a beach area on the other side of the lake, where people were napping or just taking it easy, which we walked along before venturing into the forest. (Somehow we got lost in the forest and ended up having to climb over the fence to get back on to the festival site, but that’s another story.) The only other artist we saw that day was Sven Dohse, who I had high expectations for, as André had described him as “a local hero”, who’s been coming back to the festival for over twenty years. As André said, Sven has his own special style, which makes him stand out from the other DJs, and he certainly knows how to please the crowd. It was a packed dancefloor and each and every person was well and truly going for it. A highlight of this set had to be when two people dressed as Sea Rescue Captains made their way through the crowd with stepladders, which they then stood up on and began pouring glasses of champagne for everyone. They were thoroughly entertaining, and had a great energy, adding a nice touch to the closing performance. Eventually, it was time to leave beautiful Waldsee and return to normality in the city, so we begrudgingly packed our things and made our way back.


Overall, my first time at Nation of Gondwana was a very positive one, in fact the festival far exceeded my expectations. I loved its authenticity, its retro feel, the chilled yet wonderfully weird crowd it drew in, and the location. Then of course, there was the music! Everything from House and Techno, to Trance, Disco, and New Wave could be heard over the course of the weekend, making it all the more diverse and interesting. The most special part, however, was the loyalty of these festivalgoers, who have been coming for so many years, as well as the loyalty of the festival organisers to Nation’s fans and the people of Grünefeld. That’s pure love and dedication right there.

Bring on NoG 2019!

Written by: Milly Day


Review: Kiez Burn

Just over a month ago, I found myself on a bus, in a storm, heading to a plot of land roughly 112km from Berlin for a festival named Kiez Burn, which was taking place for the very first time in Germany. With the exception of Aurora, aka “Burning Argentina”, a tiny event where just 120 people were present, this was my first Burn and I was brimming with excitement and intrigue.

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The “Just Being” kiez

Despite the forecast predicting rain all weekend long, the weather significantly improved after the first night and I spent most of Friday exploring the festival site in the sunshine and dipping my toe into each of the camps to see what was going on. Just as Berlin is home to different kieze, i.e., neighbourhoods, each of which has its own character, Kiez Burn is made up of several camps, all with a unique style and focus. The camp I had applied to be part of – Just Being – offered a space for relaxation, and attracted a more conscious crowd. I was mostly drawn to it because I didn’t think it would be as wild and druggy as some of the other camps, and I was right. The people at Just Being were unbelievably kind generous; even though I hadn’t actually managed to join, as I applied too late, they willingly shared their space and all their food with me, which I was extremely grateful for. It was a group that I felt extremely comfortable and happy with, and slowly, over the course of the weekend, I was really able to fully relax and switch off (something that never normally comes easily to me).


Camp Pyjamacakes 

Camp Pyjamcakes was another prime spot for relaxing and chatting to people. They served pancakes in their pyjamas to anyone and everyone, which I thought was such a fantastic idea, and was naturally greatly appreciated by all those that attended. It was there that I did my first workshop, which was on consent and practicing saying “no”. Seeing as consent is one of the festival’s core principles, it was great to have this reminder to take responsibility for the community by asking permission before hugging or touching anyone, and it also enabled us all to get to know one another more intimately. The intimacy level went up a few notches during the kissing workshop, which followed soon after, and consisted of everyone walking in a circle in two directions and asking permission to kiss those they wanted to. There were ten different types of kisses in total, beginning with the most innocent and least tactile – an air kiss – and progressing to a kiss on the hand, then the forehead, then the ear, a butterfly kiss, an eskimo kiss, a peck on the cheek, a peck on the mouth, a kiss on the mouth and finally, a kiss with tongues. After that, we did an activity which I can best describe as ‘kissing meditation”. Firstly, we were split into two groups: apples and mangos. Then, the apples stood in the centre of the circle with their eyes closed, while the mangoes came and kissed them in different ways, on different parts of their bodies. One minute, I would feel nothing, then all of a sudden, there would be three people kissing me on various parts of my body – it was very exciting! Interestingly enough, it was here that I met most of the people that I went on to spend time with throughout the festival, and a couple have now become good friends.


Kinky fun

The Kinky School camp was pretty much what it says on the tin; somewhere to get naughty, playful and adventurous. I didn’t spend that much time here, but I did take part in a Tantra workshop, which was definitely more amusing than arousing. To introduce ourselves, we had to go around the room each saying our name and one word to describe how we were feeling, then making the sound we make when we orgasm, which the rest of the room had to repeat afterwards (that was certainly an effective way to lower everyone’s boundaries). The rest of the workshop consisted of different exercises in pairs that were designed to make us more open and connected, but like I said, for me it was purely entertaining. Perhaps I simply wasn’t in the right zone.


Playing around at Multi-Culti Circus

Multi-Culti Circus was the camp for music, as well as fire juggling, poi, hooping, acrobatics and other circus activities. The DJs here played an array of different styles, but my favourite had to be Marius Melange with his driving Techno. Mitte was another place I ended up spending a great deal of time at, for there was music at all hours of day and night here too and, as someone who can’t get enough of dancing, it drew me back time and time again.


Getting creative

Other than dancing, attending workshops and basking in the sunshine, I spent my time admiring all the impressive works of art that so much time and effort had clearly gone in to. The creativity demonstrated at that place was remarkable, and all the details and little touches, from flickering lamps, to elaborately decorated signs, to an eclectic toilet soundtrack meant that I was constantly noticing new things, even on the last day of the festival. The costumes people had brought along were also highly creative, and the place was just a picture of colour when everyone got dressed and made up. If you weren’t donning a whacky costume, you were stripping off completely; there wasn’t much in between it seemed! I spent equal amounts of time doing both, but the naked moments were undeniably my favourite. On the penultimate day, after emerging hot and sweaty from the sauna (yes, there were saunas) I joined the “human carcass”, essentially a production line for washing bodies. Each person who wanted to be washed would walk between two rows of people, who were either given the role of soaping, rinsing, or drying, using their cupped hands as a squeegee to remove the water. After being “promoted” from dryer, to rinser, to soaper, it was my turn to be washed (yippee!) The first thing I got asked was “Do you have any boundaries?” to which I answered “no”, thereby giving everyone permission to wash me literally all over. That was certainly a novel experience.


Sharing my experience of sobriety 

I decided prior to the camp that I would join a friend of mine who, like me, is teetotal, in giving a talk on being sober. I really didn’t think anyone would show up, but to my surprise a few people did, and they listened intently as we each shared our experiences of getting sober and giving up all mind-altering substances. If I was able to help or inspire even just one person, then that would make me very happy.


Dancing in the bubbles

The last night and day of Kiez Burn were the best for me, as by that stage I had really settled in and was starting to feel truly at home. Along with a few others from Just Being, I helped prepare a Tom Kha soup for our final meal, which we sat and ate all together. The, after a short sleep, I woke up around 4am and began my morning handing out ear plugs from Welfare to those who were heading bedwards and needed to block out the pounding beats from Mitte. I spent the next few hours dancing and taking part in a kitty massage workshop, where I played the role of a cat massaging its owner, then received a deep, intense massage from him (which I very much needed). The two of us then decided to do some meditation after that and give the sauna another go, before hosing each other down with icy water to cool off. Two hours before the bus was due to leave, a 90s rave began, but nobody seemed to want to dance so I was the only person flailing my limbs around for the first half an hour or so. Gradually though, more and more people began to join me and, by around 5.30pm, Mitte was filled with colour and movement once again. Possibly the best moment of the entire weekend was when the heavens opened and it started to rain for the first time in days, just as the DJ began playing the classic I’m So Excited by The Pointer Sisters, and everyone gave it their absolute all; rarely have I seen that much energy and pure, childlike happiness contained in one space. It was absolutely incredible. Needless to say, I found it difficult to tear myself away and ended up having to run to the bus, which was about to leave without me.

Overall, Kiez Burn was a very memorable event, and it has inspired me to take part in similar events and get more involved in the community of Burners, as it was the people at the festival that made it so special – hopefully I’ll see a few familiar faces at Where the Sheep Sleep this weekend, and I’ll definitely be joining everyone at Kiez Burn 2018.

Review: Mission Techno

I talked a bit about Mission Techno in my article on the Techno scene in Germany but after last Friday, I realised no words can really do this event justice; you simple have to experience it for yourself! I was lucky enough to be invited along by MT resident, Don Basti, who picked me up from my hostel in Mannheim and together we drove to MS Connexion Complex, which is just the most remarkable venue. Located on an ancient factory site, it’s dark, eerie and industrial (just the way I like it) and houses four different rooms: Tanzsaal, where all the rougher styles of Techno could be heard, the Main Floor, which catered to Hard Techno and Hartekk fans, the “Classics” room, Stahlwerk, a new addition to the festival and finally Treibhaus, where the DJS mostly played Dark Techno.


While Don Basti and fellow resident DJ Florian Peschel were setting things up, I explored the venue some more and assessed the line-up, so I could decide who to see play. It was a tough choice, as there were so many fantastic artists, but I decided to kick things off with Leon Glock, who had won the award, “Best Newcomer to Techno”, and who was playing in Tanzsaal. Despite the fact it was very early, several people were already on the dance floor, doing that wonderful German shuffle dance (I’ll never get tired of seeing that) and showing their appreciation for Leon. His set was the perfect start to the night, it was nicely dark and driving, but without being too full-on.

Up next in Tanzsaal was Unmensch, who I discovered recently and whose sets I’ve been listening to repeatedly on Soundcloud, as I think they’re brilliant, but seeing him live took my love of him to a whole new level – his was probably my favourite performance of the night. Not only was the music pounding, but Unmensch is one of these DJs who really knows how to interact with his audience, making him captivating to watch. The energy in the room during that set was electric, each and every person was giving it their all, which made the Berlin crowd look lazy! People in this part of Germany certainly know how to rave.


I somehow managed to tear myself away from Tanzsaal half an hour before the end of Unmensch’s set, as I really wanted to see the legend that is Talla 2xlc. It was wonderfully refreshing to hear some old school Trance, especially when it’s being spun by such a prestigious DJ, something you don’t normally get the luxury of listening to at a Techno event. Talla treated us to classics such as Push’s Universal Nation, Seven Days and One Week by B.B.E and all-time favourite Zombie Nation, beginning with those famous words from the “We are the walking dead” speech. He then played a couple more recent tracks, including his own remix of Sandstorm and Vini Vici’s remix of Free Tibet, which topped the set off nicely. The vibe in that room was very different, as the average age was considerable higher (no great surprise really) and there was a mellower feel to it, but still plenty of energy. I enjoyed seeing colour and smiles on people’s faces too- something you don’t experience much on Techno nights!


I then decided to check out Treibhaus, the smallest room, a kind of witchlike cave with sludge green wavy walls. We managed to catch the end of Don Basti’s first set of the night, a dark techno set that he playing on behalf of Benijo, who had unfortunately fallen ill. Then Seimen Dexter came on and tore those wavy walls down! The first twenty minutes of his set were heavy and fast-paced, and I wanted to stick around to see how it progressed, but I was also keen to see George Perry, so after a short while I returned to Tanszaal. The style of Techno George was playing was deep and full of feeling and, while it was very powerful, there were harmonious elements to it as well. He reminded me a bit of Dekai, one of my favourite DJs here in Berlin, who I’ve seen many times but who always manages to surprise me. Their music is somewhat ominous; it gives you the impression of being chased by a predator. I like it when Techno can evoke such feelings in me.


Finally, I saw Stormtrooper and Sebastian Groth play back-to-back. Now these artists both have very different styles, with Sebastian being a Techno DJ and Stormtrooper more of a Hardcore guy, so I was interested to see how they’d make it work. Initially, Sebastian played softer and slower but he sped up towards the end, and Stormtrooper slowed down, causing their styles to merge – the outcome was surprisingly good! You can read more about both artists in the interview I carried out with them after their set. Sadly, I had to leave shortly after that to catch my train back to Berlin, but my event finder and partner in crime, Brige Greene, stayed until the end to see Florian Peschel play and reported that “He ended the party with a grand finish.”


Overall, I can safely say that the organisers of Mission Techno really excelled themselves with this festival; the venue was second-to-none, there was such an eclectic line-up, with so many different styles of Techno (and Trance!) and the crowd was unbeatable. Can’t wait to return for the next event on May 13th. Mission Techno = accomplished!

Written by: Milly Day

Review: Transmission

Up until recently, I was a Transmission virgin; I had of course heard of the prestigious Trance event, but had never got around to attending it. However, this year I decided that had to change, particularly as it was the festival’s 10th anniversary and I’m now living in Berlin, which is a mere four hours from Prague by bus. I had been told by several different people what an incredible festival Transmission was, but I don’t think anything could have prepared me for just how spectacular a show it would be. Upon entering the venue, I was blown away by the sheer enormity of it and instantly captivated by the dazzling lasers, which darted back and forth. As I made my way to the front, where giant LED screens loomed behind the DJ booth, I became anxious that there might not be enough room to dance, as the place was completely packed – Transmission 2016 had completely sold out. Fortunately though, there was ample space to flail my limbs, which I went on to do wholeheartedly for the next eight hours.


Transmission 2016’s theme was ‘The Lost Oracle’

My dancing marathon began roughly halfway through MarLo’s set, kicking off with his brilliant remix of The Prodigy’s Smack My Bitch Up. Wow! What a way to start. He went on to play a tune that I didn’t recognise, but loved instantly, and I went on to discover that it’s the new Scot Project track, W5 (Waiting For). After that, we were treated to Kyau & Albert’s latest release, Memory Lane, a lovely little progressive number. Then a cover of a song I never dreamed I’d hear on a Trance night got played: Imagine. This had everyone waving their lighters and phones in the air, while I just stood laughing and shaking my head in disbelief. I later found out that it’s MarLo’s own version and features the vocals of renowned Trance vocalist, Emma Hewitt. It went down a treat on the night, but my favourite moments were yet to come though, as I would rather be fist-pumping to a banging track than waving my lighter around to a slow one. Fortunately for me, the next series of tracks were indeed banging – MarLo played his own Join Us Now, a previous ASOT tune of the week, then I found myself jumping up and down and dancing with a bunch of mad Israelis to Orjan Nielsen’s Between the Rays (another MarLo remix), which was such a lot of fun and definitely the highlight of the set for me. I stayed close to those Israelis for the remainder of the night- they certainly knew how to party! MarLo closed his set with a real belter, I Don’t Deserve You Now by Paul Van Dyk ft Plumb, which of course had everybody singing along and was, in my opinion, the perfect way to finish things off.


Spot the Brit amongst the Israelis…

A deep, space age voice announced the next act, Markus Schulz, a man I’d seen many times, albeit not for a while. As he made his way on to the stage, the visuals up on the screen portraying a Roman amphitheatre transformed into something which resembled outer space- it was all pretty trippy. Fisherman & Hawkins, who had played at the warm-up party in Mecca the night before, came and joined our ever-increasing group, as did Thomas Coastline, who had been on earlier that night. Markus played a number of his own tracks, such as A Better You, The New World and his release with Ferry Corsten, Loops and Tings. I enjoyed hearing his mashup of Stoneface & Terminal’s Spectre and Sebastien & Hagedorn’s High on You, which preceded Novaspace’s newest release, Cygnus. Like MarLo, Markus surprised us at the end with a cover of an old pop song, Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill, cleverly reworked by Infusion. After that, we were treated to a 15-minute Transmix by Vision Impossible, during which I opted for a change of scene and walked up to the seating area. The view from there was simply incredible, but nobody was dancing! And with songs like The Theme, Hey Now and Free Tibet, I didn’t see how it was possible not to dance. Back to the barmy Israelis it was.


The view from above

Next up was Ferry Corsten as Gouryella, who came on at 2am but as the clocks went back that morning, he also ended at 2am. An extra hour of raving was a nice bonus, and totally unexpected, as I had no idea it was happening until I saw the schedule. As you’d expect, Gouryella was the first track that got played, as projections of the man himself appeared on the screen. He then proceeded to alternate between Ferry Corsten tracks, such as Reborn and Anahera, and those produced under the Gouryella alias, like Ligaya and Walhalla. He topped things off with Neba, the much-anticipated follow up to Anahera, an uplifting number reminiscent of Gouryella’s classic style.


Big Ferry, little Ferry

After Ferry, it was time for the legend that is John O’Callaghan to take to the stage. I’d already seen him play twice over the summer, and his set at Captured Festival in Ibiza was one of the highlights of the year for me. JOC never fails to amaze me though, as this set was totally different; darker and more powerful, which actually I prefer. I can safely say I loved hearing every song that got played, as it was just one banger after another, but the standout tracks had to be the new Will Atkinson song, which I believe is called Chasing After You, and Beg Your Pardon by Bryan Kearney pres. Karney, which is probably my favourite song of the year. Yes, it’s more Techno than Trance, but that suits me just fine as I adore both genres and it’s always nice to have a bit of variety. It was also great to hear Cold Blue’s brilliant remix of Steal This Track for the first time, which I’ve been listening to non-stop since. Naturally, JOC played a number of his own tracks as well, including The Forging of Steel and Lies Cost Nothing, before ending on his Dark mix of Armin Van Buuren’s I’ll Listen. What an absolute stonker of a performance! Once again, the mighty Mr. O’Callaghan’s set was my favourite of the night.


A highly impressive performance by JOC

Nicely energised after that set, I was ready for the next artists, Driftmoon and ReOrder, who were to DJ back-to-back. Although JOC was a hard act to follow, they managed it quite well, with an uplifting 140bpm set that kept everyone stomping away for the next hour and a half. Songs that stood out were ReOrder & Katty Heath – Love Again and Tritonal’s Blackout. The two men went on to play some Psytrance towards the end, before finishing off with a couple of classics, PPK’s Resurrection and the timeless Silence. Last, but by no means least, it was the popular Psytrance duo Vini Vici’s turn to play to the masses. I was feeling a bit weak after dancing non-stop for so long, so I returned to the seating area and wolfed down a slice of pizza (love that you could buy pizza here) and enjoyed the show from above once again. Vini Vici’s set started with a bang, with their most famous song to date, The Tribe, followed by a Psy rework of Tiesto’s Lethal Industry. I was raving away in my chair – it was impossible not to! Afterwards, I rushed back down to the dancefloor, just as Namaste came on. Amazingly, it was still packed and the crowd were going for it just as hard as they were right at the start. After dropping another of their own tracks, Talking with U.F.O’s, they played a series of classic Trance songs, beginning with Binary Finary’s 1998 and a fantastic mashup of Robert Miles’s Children and We Come in Peace by Liquid Soul & Zyce, followed by Adagio for Strings. After that, it was back to the Psytrance with Tick Tock by Sesto Sento and finishing things off with that much-loved remix of Free Tibet.


The final act of the night: Vini Vici

Overall, Transmission 2016 far was a tremendous success and far exceeded my expectations. Not only was the music on point, but I could not have asked for a better crowd, plus the ‘Lost Oracle’ show was truly mesmerising, with all the lasers, confetti cannons, smoke displays and onstage dancers. It blew my mind. Can’t wait for Transmission 2017!

Review: Captured Festival

Last year, I visited the White Isle for the first time and enjoyed it so much that I found myself crying hysterically on the day of my flight (I have since discovered this is not uncommon), as I simply didn’t feel ready to leave. My friends and I had gone for a long weekend and only managed to get to a couple of parties, one of which was Captured Festival, Ibiza’s only Trance festival, which is held in an abandoned zoo. This year, I listed it as one of my 3 must-visit electronic music festivals and spent most of the summer getting excited about returning to my favourite island and seeing what Captured 2016 had in store for us Trance fanatics.


The highly appealing swimming pool

The day started off nicely – it was blissfully hot and the first thing I laid eyes upon when I entered the zoo was a swimming pool, which must have been closed last year as I don’t remember it being there, but I was very pleased to see it and got in almost right away. Once I’d cooled off, I clambered out of the pool, feeling nicely refreshed and went and stood in the queue for body painting. This was a bit of an error on my part; the queue was so long and there was no shade, meaning everyone was getting a bit restless and grumpy, but we were all determined to get ourselves painted! However, after a while, I heard the intro to Oxia’s ‘Domino’, one of my favourite tracks (an oldie, but a goodie) and decided I had to go and dance to it. It was coming from the Main Stage, where Sam Mitcham was manning the decks, and he went on to play another Techno classic, ‘Talking to You’ by Josh Wink. Seamlessly blending in the Trance with the Techno, Sam treated us to tracks like Jerome Isma-Ae’s remix of Orkidea’s ‘Nana’ and Dan Brazier’s bootleg of the legendary ‘God Is A DJ’. By the time he’d finished his set, I realised I’d probably lost my place in the body-painting queue… oh well. Totally worth it!


Max Graham working his magic

Next to take to the Main Stage was Max Graham, who I’d never seen before, so I was intrigued to see what kind of set he’d play. Like Sam, he mixed Trance with Techno, getting a thumbs up from me as I love both genres and always appreciate a DJ with an eclectic style. Max kicked things off with the beautiful ‘Sun in Your Eyes’ by Above & Beyond- what a way to start! He then mixed that in to a brilliant remix of ‘Power’, courtesy of Hoxton Whores & HXTN before throwing in beloved Trance classic, ‘As The Rush Comes’, which I’ve heard on the dancefloor countless times, yet somehow it never gets old. As the sun began to set, Max slowed things down with his own remix of ‘Not Enough’ by Solid Stone and Jennifer Rene, a blissfully Balearic number, before ending with Mark Knight’s ‘Yebisah’. Needless to say, I was thoroughly impressed by that performance.

Thrillseekers playing ‘Affinity’ in the Seal Pit

Opting for a change of scene, I walked across to the Seal Pit Arena, where the mighty Thrillseekers was halfway through playing a vinyl set. The arena was absolutely packed, and each and every person was dancing. That’s what I love about these types of event; people really let go and enjoy themselves, rather than standing around posing, which makes a nice change from the likes of Amnesia and some other superclubs. As expected, Steve played a number of Trance classics, including an instrumental version of 4 Strings’ ‘Take me Away’ and ‘Universal Nation’ by Push. He also treated us to the gorgeous ‘Clear Blue Water’ by Oceanlab, before finishing on one of my favourites, ‘Age of Love’. A flawless ending to a flawless set.


John O’Callaghan on the Main Stage

I had to go back to the Main Stage after that, as up next was John O’Callaghan, whose set at Cream the previous week was so fantastic that it had left me wanting more. This time, he managed to excel himself and play an even better set, during which I simply could not stop stomping! I had arrived just as Will Atkinson was finishing things off with his awesome remix of ‘Sunset on Ibiza’ and felt a bit gutted that I’d missed him but hey, you can’t see them all and unfortunately it’s necessary to make a few sacrifices at these festivals. JOC blasted out a number of vocal gems, beginning with Flynn & Denton’s ‘Say My Name’ and proceeding with another favourite of mine, ‘Ashley’ by Filo & Peri. Naturally, the crowd were singing along and the singing got louder as JOC progressed with a track of his, ‘Stay With Me’ – I think that had to be one of the highlights of the entire day. It was banger after banger after that, with so many more great vocal tracks, including Bryan Kearney’s ‘I Don’t Deserve You’ and a remix of Zara’s ‘Lost’. He played more of his own tracks as well, such as ‘Lies Cost Nothing’, ‘One Special Particle’ and his remix of ‘Save Me’ by Gareth Emery. Towards the end, the magnificent Mr O’Callaghan took us all right back with an old school number, Binary Finary’s ‘1999’. Could not have asked for more than that.


The crowd going nuts during JOC’s set

After two hours of incessant dancing, I decided to take a short break with my friends on one of the bean bags by the pool. From there, we could hear the pounding beats emerging from the Animal Hospital, a new stage hosting Hard Dance acts such as BK, Andy Farley and Rob Tissera. I had wanted to check out this stage, but simply couldn’t tear myself away from the Trance!  After roughly half an hour, we made our way back to the Main Stage, just as Bryan Kearney dropped a banging remix of ‘Come to Me’, which the crowd went mental to. Despite being the last act on that stage, Bryan managed to keep everyone’s energy levels high with uplifting mash-ups like ‘Pearl Airport’ (Photographer vs Johnny Shaker) and ‘Out Of BeachWave’ (Rank 1 vs John O’Callaghan vs Nalin & Kane). That’s three for the price of one right there! Like the other DJs I’d seen that day, he also dropped in a couple of Trance classics, namely ‘Supernature’ by Stoneface & Terminal and his edit of ‘Take Me Away’. I also got to hear the very song that first got me into Trance, the sublime ‘Saltwater’ by Chicane. That was a special moment for me. Kearney finished his set off with a filthy Psy track, which I am yet to discover the name of, but you can hear it in the video below. 

Bryan Kearney ending his set in style

Things came to an end at midnight, when everyone began making their way onto the bus to head back into town and on to the after party. I was exhausted, but couldn’t resist going along so that I could see Jordan Suckley, Scot Project and Sam Mitcham (for the fifth time!) All in all, a combination of the atmosphere at Captured Festival 2016, the glorious weather, and the unbeatable line-up made it a true success and I’m already looking forward to seeing how the festival shapes up next year.

Written by: Milly Day

Review: Sunfall

The first ever Sunfall took place just over a week ago at Brockwell Park, Brixton and from the minute I saw it advertised for the first time, I knew it had to be on my list of must-visit music festivals for the summer. Not only were some of my favourite artists on the agenda, namely Ben Klock and Mind Against (I’m a bit of a Technohead), but the festival organisers had the genius idea of combining the main event with a series of after parties, with one ticket granting access to both the day party and an after party of your choice. I thought this was an inspired concept, as so many London festivals have a ridiculously early curfew, meaning the festivalgoers are left at a bit of a loose end once the music stops. The other way in which it differed from most festivals in London was its sound system, which was exceptionally powerful- a nice change from having to push your ears up against the speaker in order to hear the music properly!

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Kicking things off with Fatima Yamaha 

After queuing for a fairly short period of time, I went straight to the North tent to catch the start of Fatima Yamaha’s set. I hadn’t ever seen this man play before, but the friends I was with wanted to go along and I trust their taste in music, so I thought I’d join them. I was pleasantly surprised, as is so often the case when you go to see an act with no expectations. The tent was busy, without being too packed, and Fatima certainly captivated his audience, who swayed to his slow-burning synth tracks and began chanting along when he dropped the famous ‘What’s a Girl to Do’. From Deep House to Techno (that’s the beauty of these eclectic festivals), it was time to check out Donato Dozzy next. For some of my friends, it was a bit too early in the day to be exposed to rolling, Trance-induced Techno, but this is my kind of a music down to a T and it certainly got me going. Despite only being able to catch the last half hour of the set, I’d say it was one of my most memorable performances of the day.

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Having fun in the sun

Once Donato had put down his headphones, I decided to explore the festival a bit and take a look at some of the other stages. We were lucky to have blissfully balmy weather, so it was nice just to sit on the mud-free grass and chill, but I spent more time queuing for the toilets than doing that (Sunfall, that’s my only criticism; more portaloos next year please!) After grabbing a delicious halloumi wrap, I was feeling refreshed and revived and in the mood for some more Techno. Initially, I had wanted to see Job Jobse play back-to-back with Joy Orbison, but the North tent was simply too crowded and there was very little space to dance, which is enough to put me off. Besides, I knew I’d be seeing Joy O later that night at the Dimensions after party, so I didn’t mind giving his daytime set a miss.

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The incredible (and also incredibly hot) Ben Klock

The next act I saw was Mind Against. I had high expectations for these guys, as I’d seen them once before at TimeWarp in Buenos Aires and remembered being completely blown away. Thankfully, they did not disappoint this time round – their set was massive enough to fulfill that mighty sound system and I found myself unable to stop dancing until the very end. It served nicely as a warm up for the next and last DJ I saw that day, the mighty Ben Klock, whose set I’d been looking forward to all afternoon. I don’t even think I can put his performance into words; it was simply incredible. Those pounding, relentless beats had me repeatedly yelling “This is so f***ing good!” to nobody in particular, whilst fist pumping with one arm and using my other to cling on to the barrier in front of me (I had a great position which I could hardly give up). We all quite literally stomped till we dropped in that tent, which I can safely say was my favourite spot of the festival, mostly because each of the artists I saw there smashed it, but also because I found the people more genuine. It seemed to attract real music lovers, who were drawn to the festival by a desire to support the acts they adore, as opposed to a lot of the festival attendees, who I think just saw Sunfall as an excuse to get pissed.

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Sunset at Sunfall

We stuck around to watch the sun go down over the festival site, before taking part in a spontaneous yoga session-  just what you need after a day of raving! It was then time to refuel before heading to the Dimensions after party at Bussey Building, where Joy Orbison and Ryan Elliott were due to play back-to-back until 5am. This was when my excitement really kicked in, being a creature of the night, for as good as it was, the day party had felt like the warm up and for me, THIS was the main event. Joy Orbison treated us to a nice mix of Techno, Deep House and Funky House, even throwing in a bit of Hip Hop at one stage. To my surprise (and it was indeed a very pleasant surprise), the venue wasn’t nearly as crowded as I was expecting it to be, considering it was a sold out event. I can only presume that a large number of people had overdone it during the day and peaked too early, a shame for them, but it meant the rest of us had plenty of space to flail our limbs. Unfortunately, Ryan Elliott never showed up and when we asked where he was, the festival organisers claimed they “couldn’t find him” as apparently he’d simply disappeared after his daytime set. I later found out from Ryan that he’d gone to take a quick nap and woken up four hours later when, much to his horror, he realised it was too late to go down to the venue. A pity, but nobody seemed too disappointed and it didn’t make the after party any less enjoyable. Even after the lights had come on, there was a decent number of people still going for it on the dance floor, and a handful of us actually made it to a second after party (but that’s another story).

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Joy Orbison tearing up the decks

Overall, the first Sunfall was a pretty big success, thanks to its wonderfully diverse line-up and all the different after party options, which meant there was something for everyone. To find out about what Sunfall 2017 has in store, you can register via the festival’s official website and receive all the most up-to-date information on the event. I’m sure, and indeed I hope, I’ll get to go again next summer. In the meantime, here’s to more music and fun in the sun as this year’s festival season continues!

Written by: Milly Day