“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet”. And what a sweet fruit Valhalla was!
One year full of festivals, events, parties around Europe has just past, but I had to wait until December to have one of the best surprises of 2016. Valhalla Festival honestly blew my mind for the quality and variety of the music, the smooth organisation and the positive vibes all around. The only downside was that so many great artists were in the line-up and someone had to be sacrificed.
I was staying very close to the venue and I decided to have a walk around RAI in the afternoon, as I love to check around a bit and get an idea in advance about what is going to happen. First impression from the outside, the place looked huge. This particular event was built for an impressive amount of people, but I am used to festivals in the Netherlands and I knew that everything was going to be perfect. And I was right, from the start we have been treated with professionalism by everyone. Security, staff, info points. No one was left alone from the beginning until the very end.
We entered around 2300h and we had the chance to see the opening show, which was a tumultuous explosion of lights, fires, masquerade figures walking around in probably one of the biggest musical circus I will ever see anywhere.
There was not that much time to waste around, though, as the first big names were already playing in some of the seven stages. We stayed at the Savannah stage, where the main opening show was held, and enjoyed the pumping set of Prunk, who being Dutch was playing home. It was a nice surprise, as I admit I have never seen him playing. His rubbery bass, the rounded edges and the jacking deep house with techno nuances was truly a blast. Not bad at all as first set, but this night was about to get better and better.
First show we missed, was Oliver Schories. We wanted to see him, but we ended up being captured by Prunk and, as most of the times, had to change plans. But we moved to the Moulin Rouge stage anyway, one of the smallest of the festival, for N’to. The French dj and producer from Hungry Music has left in me so many great memories from past events that I was expecting the stage to be tore down by his energy and his emblematic melodies. It was instead a more intimate set where N’to drove us into a journey full of emotionally, spiritually and sexually calibrated strings of deep and hypnotic techno. Good to know that this talented dj is capable of evolving and changing to this extent!
After this, we wanted some proper Berlin techno so we headed to the Babushka stage where Answer Code Request was already playing. A live set which captured the crowd, a very interesting experience as he was capable of keeping everyone on edge for the entire performance. Quite techy sound, with many cuts, percussive shuffles, moments of funk infused techno and the feeling that this guy was connecting with the crowd on another level. I might be biased when I review these events, as my love for this kind of aggressive and sleek techno is pretty solid, but this was probably one of the best performances of the year for me.
At that point, we needed a break as it was almost three hours that we were dancing and enjoying the party. Just a quick walk around, smoking area, few beers, something to eat and it was time to get back again to the music. One small thing has to be said, though. If you are used to attend festivals in the Netherlands then you might find this normal. But to me, having the chance of just get a drink and go to the toilet with zero, and I mean zero, waiting time is just fantastic. Out of many things we should learn by these teams of event organisers, this is one of the most important to me. Chapeau Valhalla!
Where to go then? Well, I have been crossing Daniel Pearce (aka Eats Everything) for a while now, but never had the chance to attend one of his sets in its entirety. This was the moment, and this powerful kid from Bristol just delivered a warm and uplifting set with no hesitations. With a dope track selection, from classics tunes such as The Renegade by Friend Within, to fresh releases as for examples Funkiss by Adrian Hour, Eats Everything was an avalanche of powerful beats, impressive mash ups of different tracks and this specific British sound that is emerging in the last couple of years: house music, tech house, UK garage, techno? Everything was in it, blended with class and mastered with experience. Daniel didn’t just played good tracks, or delivered a flawless mix. He was able to find the right groove for the people in front of him, and this is exactly what makes a performance one to remember.
Now, after all of this, just noticed that we left apart artists such as Agoria, Edu Imbernon b2b Oliver Weiter, Benny Rodrigues b2b De Sluwe Vos, Gaiser live.. and many more! This is to give you the idea of the quality level of the event. But we could not duplicate ourselves, and we then ended up staying at the Savannah stage for Skream b2b Patrick Topping. I mean do I really need to write about those two? I have been following them for quite a long time now, and I have never been disappointed. Such an energy from those two prodigious artists, they switched on immediately after Eats Everything and didn’t give us one second of pause. Not that we wanted any, but this b2b was memorable. The erupting sound, beats after beats, of driving tech-house left the crowd in adoration. The moment they dropped Issues, new collaboration between Green Velvet and Detlef , was insane. Yes, these boys know how to party!
It wasn’t enough though, as Valhalla decided to prepare a final surprise for us: the man himself, Paco Osuna! I mean, I just love this guy. He always stands up in the booth, serious as fuck, only focused in frying up our brains with the hottest and dirtiest techno music around. Cranked up minimal beats were mixed up with class into sleek thunders of bass. Paco was shaking the walls of the venue, together with what was left of the last couple of thousands people still in the venue. Smooth transitions, groovy techno, acid cuts here and there, this last show was a pleasure to the hears and a memory that will last for long.
All together, Valhalla was simply fantastic. The production, the lights and especially the sound system were all at the highest standards. I already mentioned the organisation, pure Dutch efficiency. What impressed me however, is the most simple thing and yet probably the most important: the smiles on the faces of ravers all around me, from the beginning until the end, with a sense of communion, closeness and respect that made this experience unique. See you next year Valhalla!