Confessions from Club To Club Festival 2018: hybrid resonances

The end of 18th edition of Club To Club Festival, that took part from 1st to 4th November in some of the most iconic locations in Turin, has left a huge resonance in our minds.

Club To Club is one of the highlights of the Italian festival scene, that has reaffirmed the importance of music exsperimentalism in a dark and flat era for our culture. Its finely curated lineup aims to represent the diverse facets of contemporary music, and for this transglobal program it is considered one of the most important avant-pop festival in Europe.

This edition has been the festival of hybrid resonances, at various levels. First of all, the aim of the festival. “La luce al buio”, The light over darkness, was the main theme of this year, meaning that, in words of the artistic director Sergio Ricciardone, “we are fireflies in the darkness” (quoting Franco Battiato). Finding the resonance of the light in the darkness and viceversa, was a compelling game. What is the light and how does it reverberate in the darkness? How darkness can influence the way light shines? The entire festival was build on those two elements and the liquefaction of one into the other was the organization leitmotiv.  It influenced every tiny deail, including the advertising campain to begin with.

Another place where we can find the concept of resonances were the venues. The idea of a festival not closed in itself, but as proper cultural experience that opens a dialogue with the surrounding space, expanding its resonances all aroud. Club To Club’s venues are dotted around the city, to better represent the different sides of the contemprary music. The public had the chance to get in touch with some of Turin’s most iconic and facinating locations, from the renewed spaces of Officine Grandi Riparazioni, to the majestic Reggia di Venaria, passing trough the post-industrial Lingotto pavillion and Porta Palazzo neighborhood’s block party.

Furthermore, from Thursday to Saturday, the Ac Hotel was a hive of activity with Absolut Symposium, a bustling creative hub with panels, workshops, interviews, live radio and musical rooms, curated by Max Dax and Carlo Pastore. A special environment that brings together festival goers, industry folk and artists, akin to the festival backstage with added performances and lively activities.

The first of C2C’s big opening events, on Thursday 1st, was hosted in a spectacular setting, Officine Grande Riparazioni, a cavernous venue formerly used for repairing trains. Queues at the entrance and a lot of enthusiasm for the eclectic set of Gang of Ducks, Call Super, Tirzah’s mesmerizing voice, Palm Wine. From the beginning it has been clear that this year the festival organizers were looking for different musical paths, with resonances one in to the other, in a perfect harmony.

Most of the action took place at Lingotto Fiere, an enormous expo centre housed on the site of a former Fiat factory, which contained one enormous Main stage, and a smaller Crack stage, that unfortunately was not able to compete with the former. This huge rectangular box hosted a fittingly broad selection of artists, from live bands to up-and-coming electronic acts and DJs.  A perfect location for a great festival, although some steps forward could be made as far as the acoustic is concerned, especially during live exhibitions.

This was with no doubt the festival of Aphex Twin. Club To Club has always used in the field excellent line up, usually sensational, and this, linked with the communicative and imprenditorial ability, was its strong point. But this year the program didn’t offered many clamorous names. Friday night was opened by Elena Colombi, followed by Iceage punk rock and the hip-hop of the nigerian Obongjayar. After this ecleptic bunch of cards, it was the turn of Beach House, that offered probably the most emotional live set: little light, their dark silhouettes on a coloured screen, onirics pads, the divine ability to play one of the best album of the year, 7. The second part of the night brought the captivating electro music of David August Jamie XX and the surprisingly amazing Skee Mask. Finally, to finish the night, there were the three Graces: Peggy Gou (a trunk a bit too much straight), the smashing Josey Rebelle, and Avalon Emerson, the queen of powerful techno.

Saturday was the Aphex Day. But before the expected exhibition there were some other interesting surprises. As an animal stage Yves Tumor overwhelmingly took the scene, with his experimental and deconstructed EDM; nex, Blood Orange, with a monster-band and incredible chorists. The house of Leon Vynehall, the super hard set of the italian Bienoise, and the cryptic Serpentwithfeet completed the range of different musical souls.

At 1:30, the Main stage, that seemed too big and disperisive during the other sets, was filled almost to its capacity. Ten thousands initiates merged in front of the master, and he gave them the essence of his philosophy. His show was a work of art, in which music, visuals and light melted together, leaving the crowd disoriented and extatic at the same time. Techno-acid bombs, distorted musical waves that chased each other and a volley of breakcore were just the base of a multi-layered castle inhabited by myriads of characters.

Roberto Benigni, Cicciolina, Piero Angela, Rita Levi Montalcini, Cesare Pavese, Gianni Agnelli, Gramsci, Pasolini, Calvino and many others were blended and recomposed in dizzying visuals. An alienating work of visual art dedicated to Turin and to Italy, marked with a sense of irony and apprehension, simbolized by the unmistakable snigger of Richard James. The last element of this futuristic puzzle were an incredibly thick game of lights and lasers: geometric shapes and fractal patterns that tessellated and disengaged according to some enigmatic laws of physics. A big jump into the future. It was astonishing to witness, but exhaustingly intense. To recover, the hyper dub of the secret guest Kode9, and Vessel, the Cerberus of C2C’s last note.

On Sunday 4th November Club To Club still had a lot to offer: the block party ClubPalazzo was hosted in a new location – the 150 year old historical market of Balon organized by Xplosiva in collaboration with Associazione Commercianti Balon, taking over the whole neighborhood of Porta Palazzo from late morning onwards with live music, street art, meetings, exhibitions, enogastronomic tours with traditional & digital artisans. And above all, music, with the Italian date of Red Bull Music presents Diggin’ In The Carts, an unmissable tryptich of sets dedicated to video-game soundtracks that made history with Yuzo Kushiro e Motohiro Kawashima.

The closing party of the festival took place at Reggia di Venaria, a Unesco World Heritage site and an impossibly grand baroque palace formerly used as a hunting lodge by the Italian royal family. Curated by 4:3, Boiler Room’s innovative platform for film, that explores themes of performance, identity, youth culture and anti-establishment, the last shadow of the festival was animated by Mana, Primitive Art and DJ Nigga Fox.

Club To Club 2018 ends with almost 60.000 visitors who came from 61 countries to take part to the exhibition of 50 artists from all over the world, in a 50 hours non stop music marathon.  A good recognition for those who tries to propone something innovative inside a logorous musical speech. A festival capable of creating resonances with the public, with the city, with the past, the present and the future, making them dance together in a unique harmony for 4 beautiful days.