A nice little gem in the middle of Belgium: Paradise City Festival

With the third edition, Paradise City managed to maintain the community spirit that was at the centre of the concept from the beginning, while getting better and better with time and improving the overall experience.

The festival was organised around three full days of music, a brave decision in a period of market saturation for musical events. Given the numbers – around 13000 people attended, more than 57 artists and many hours of good quality music – we can safely say that the bet was undoubtedly successful.

To be honest, however, it is not just a matter of numbers. Paradise City was a success because it combined the feeling of a very professional organisation, with a unique location and a line up wisely balanced between internationally known artists and emergent young talents.

And the atmosphere was special. Being a fairly small event, you could feel a sort of intimacy between the artists and the people dancing around. As a consequence, many of the djs felt free to try new things out and experiment probably more than in other occasions, resulting into a rare connection between the stage and the crowd.

The first nice, lovely, surprise was the live performance by Jan Blomqvist and Band (it is worth mentioning his exceptional bandmates, Christian Dammann, drummer, and Felix Lehman, pianist) at the Live stage. This was totally unexpected to me. I have always heard positive comments about Jan and his music, but this show was something else. A warm, passionate, classy and visionary live set which literally blown us away. The atmosphere, the lyrics, the melodies, everything was in the right place at the right moment. What a start!

At that point, I had lost Bwana already (and I promise I will try to see him again soon) but there was no time to rest as we had to check out Attar! playing at the Love Stage. With his deep touch, the Brussels based dj has worked the crowd with a nice trippy house influenced set. We then watched the people going crazy with a great remix of Domino from the artist village, which was just on the other side of the canal.

At the Playlabel Stage Kornél Kovàcs was about to start and, after seeing his Boiler Room set from Sugar Mountain in Melbourne just a few weeks ago, he was on my to-watch list. It was a nice confirmation of his unique style of djing, which allows him to easily connect with the dancefloor. Kornél has no fear to explore undisclosed landscapes with his selection: from house to disco, from funky to electro, from vocals to melodies, he thrown a proper party for us and we all loved it.

Another good thing about Paradise was the chilling spaces all around, a little fundamental detail that too many festivals tend to overlook nowadays. Everything was perfect there, with this relaxed and positive atmosphere spreading all around.

Gabriel Ananda had started already at the Live stage and the floor was packed with enthusiastic kids jumping all around to the revolving beats of the German producer. Clear pumped up house music, together with the typical melodic touch and the recurrent builds and drops that made him famous globally, Gabriel was one of the highlight of the day at Paradise, passing from Give Me Five to his remix of Focusing (by Rob Hes & Steve Slight) and countless other sick tunes.

We closed the Saturday with a bit of nostalgia, as we knew already we would not be able to make it on Sunday, but Agoria was playing and that made this last couple of hours less bitter. He is a long-time friend of Paradise City and he was probably the best way the close this fantastic day. Agoria choose to take us into a clean, deep and extended journey, made of beautiful chords and synths, pumping beats and heavy percussions, kicking basslines and smooth transitions. Precise, charismatic, he never fails to amaze me. Just looking around to the countless smiles and arms in the air while he was playing is enough to understand the power of his music.

Thinking back about the day at Paradise City, of course I recall the music, the organisation and the location. All great. But what I take back with me is the sense of togetherness, the shared feeling of being part of a community, even just for a few hours. Paradise City is a beautiful, little gem in the middle of Belgium and I already look forward to be there next year!