Sola Luna Review

Author: Wick
Date: Sep 30, 2001
Views: 3218

A full coverage of the SolaLuna 2001 Festival in Greece


SolaLuna 2001 @ Samothraki, Greece
written by: Wick
(Sep 30, 2001)

 

SolaLuna Entertainment
SolaLuna 2001
08/30/2001 - 09/02/2001

SolaLuna website

Every once in a while, one needs to loosen up a bit and leave that complicated world of ours. A nice festival once a year always does the trick, at least to me it does. This year it was the Solaluna festival on the Greek island of Samothraki: three days of full-on electronic bliss. With names as Koxbox, Hallucinogen, Gabriel le Mar, Youth, and many others, the expectations were running high. Though nobody could have known what was to happen there...

On the night of the 29th my girlfriend and me arrived in Alexandroupolis, a city in the mainland of Greece, nearest to the island of Samothraki. Obviously all hotels were filled with hippies, but fortunately we managed to convince a hotel owner that sleeping in the living room would suffice for the night. The alarm clock was set at five, as the ticket sale would start at six the next morning. In spite of the hotel owner who was roaming around the room and constantly gibbering to himself, we managed to get ourselves some quality sleep.

At the ticket place the next morning the queue protruded onto the bakery across the street, but we managed to get a ticket for the 8 o'clock ferry. The fast one. :) In one and a half hours we set foot on the magical island of Samothraki, where a shuttle bus provided for the ride to the festival area. We were warmly welcomed by friends, who had left us some space in their tent area. After an afternoon dip in the sea a hundred metres further up, some food and a walk around the camping area, it was time to relax a bit before the first night of madness.

First up was, well, nobody actually. The music was supposed to start at eleven pm, but despite the fact that there were constantly four to five people on stage, the sound system didn't give a kick. They seemed to be more fixed on putting up a giant cloth rooftop above the stage. After two failed attempts, they managed to set it up, and the attention was drawn to the lights in the back of the dance floor. A few hours passed, people waiting, some leaving for a spliff around their camping area and still nothing happened. When John Phantasm kicked off about four hours later than planned, enthousiasm took the place of impatience, and the party could finally begin...

John gave the trancefloor a firm energy kick, playing a lot of 3d-vision stuff and raw English psytrance. His mixing wasn't all too perfect, but all in all he played a very powerful set. He certainly put the crowd where they ought to be.

Next up was Dominic Lamb, one of the founders of Flying Rhino records. He started out nicely, but didn't seem to feel too comfortable behind the decks. From someone who has been spinning for twelve years I did not expect that many mistakes. He had a better period near the end, playing some nicely refreshing tracks, but still it was quite a disappointment.

Meanwhile the sun had rose up from the horizon, and people's smiling faces could be seen again. Suddenly Samothraki's mountain peak of over 1600 metres could be seen from behind the stage. This sight was easy to forget when dancing in oblivion, and the rediscovery of the mountain being there was a pleasant surprise every time. It certainly made up for the stingy decoration around the mainstage.

8 am, time for Huxflux to get on stage. His squeeks and chirps started out right away, building up the energy level once more. For those that had decided to get some sleep, the alarm clock sound during the Idiot track surely woke everybody up. Gooood morning!! I didn't hear many new tracks, but Huxflux certainly sounds great outdoors.

By this time the ambiance was set, and the party was in full motion. Some took a refreshing dip in the sea, which laid right behind the dance area, as others were unable to leave the dancefloor. What a party...

When Total Eclipse's Serge Souque took over, we decided to get ourselves some breakfast at the chill-out and catch a part of Sam @ Chaishop's set. Sam looked very much at ease, playing some very nice tracks there. Only a mere 50 people were present at the chill-out, which looked surprisingly 'unfurnished'. Wild Frogz had their backdrops hung up like a laundry line around the stage, and besides eighty or so white plastic chairs, the only option was to sit on the dusty ground. Obviously this didn't stimulate people to chill out. After some breakfast, rice and vegetables (read: a pea here and there, a little corn and yes, a bit of carrot too!) we went back to see how Serge was doing. He played a great set, mixing wonderfully and playing some nice tracks. Good stuff!

Now it was time for Gus Till to show some magic tricks. He had been roaming around the mainstage for a while, and now it was his turn to play: Slinky Wizard's live set. As the temperature rose above thirty degrees, Gus unfolded his new sound onto the audience, which to me was some of the best music of the festival. He obviously does not stick to the musical restrictions that psytrance has to offer. From the sea it sounded even more refreshing! Truly a great musician, this Gus Till man. :)

After Slinky Wizard we decided to call it a day and we retreated to our tent area, where we were engulfed by the freaky soundscapes of Grey Area. Nice one!

Day 2:
After a few hours of sleep, we were lured out of our tents by some horrible music coming from the chill-out, where a woman seemed to put all the frustration and desperation she had experienced in her entire life into a terrible sort of howl, accompanied by a tacky eighties synthline. We had to get away as soon as possible.

At the mainstage Dino was spinning. His mixing was fine, but he seemed to be very keen on playing tracks which had alien samples in it. Some people just can't get enough of space... It gave us a good laugh though (yes, another one! ;p).

When Dado from Deedrah got on, we left the dance floor to our tents once again to get strapped for the long morning that laid ahead of us, starting with Frank E. From our tents we could hear the last few tracks of Quantasia, one of Greece's upcoming live-bands, and I must say I quite liked it. Reminded me of Parasense a bit, with many powerful 'sound farts' or squirts, whichever you prefer ;), and strong psychedelic grinds. Not really my style though...

Frank E kicked off with a lot of 'easy dancing' GMS kind of stuff, to get the crowd warmed up easily. It worked out quite well, but I had heard better from him. Bring on Koxbox!

I had seen them a few months earlier in Copenhagen, where they played much of the same set, but hearing them on an outdoor festival with a surreal mountain range as a background certainly brought along its own charm. Some were disappointed, but me and my matee were hopelessly stuck on bouncing about. 'Magnetic Force' was the first time when the crowd went absolutely mad...

Like a real madman, Frank E then went on to spin a few hours more. This time his music was a lot more powerful and psychedelic. It was great to see how he played the crowd like a puppeteer, such as building up to a huge climax and waiting for just a few seconds more before letting the music kick in again. The crowd went mad...

Back at the campsite, Marita and Timo, two of our fellow happy campers, had to leave the festival and go back to the mainland. Timo couldn't eat anything and needed a doctor. Back in Alexandroupolis he got some antibiotics and recovered very quickly, and so they had a relaxing weekend around the beach instead. :)

After our good-bye's and some relaxation with reggae chill-out band Red Seal on the background, we heard that Logic Bomb had already started. We were just in time to hear their last track. Which was quite a nice one. :p

Next up was TipWorld's Dimitri. He played a great stomping set, hardly any well-known released tracks, very organic and well mixed. As usual during the daytime, a firetruck provided a very liberating stream of cold water, giving the crowd a boost of energy, while moisturising the ground so that one needn't to bite the dust. The beam of water also created rainbows all around: how shanti!

Time to get some food. For meat-eaters there was enough proper food, but vegetarians didn't have much more choice than rice with spinach, pasta and vegetables or mushroom pie. It wasn't high quality stuff either. But hey, I like meat, so who's complaining? :p

When we got back to the dancefloor, Paul Taylor had just started. He had a very outdoor sound, well mixed, but it's not really my style. When hearing such good music, one tends to set very high standards. And so we sat down, chilled a bit, took some drugs. Jens and Julie, our Danish lads, had brought a delicious watermelon filled with a bottle of Bacardi. What a life... ;)

Paul Taylor was the last dj on the playlist for the day, but after he finished, Stella Nutella took a swing at the decks. And did it very well, I must add. :) She played exactly what the crowd needed at the moment: very easy, yet complicated happy psytrance. She was just as much having a good time as the crowd. The next night was going to be a long dance marathon, so relaxing the rest of the day was a good move. Maybe a bit of sleep too. ;p

Day 3:
Our last night started with Etnica live at 2 o'clock, which to me was very disappointing. Pretty hard night stuff, but absolutely nothing special. Maybe better next time...

Dino Psaras took over the podium about one and a half hours later, which for me was the surprise of the festival. He mixed psytechno with lots of other styles, sometimes dark, sometimes happy, and surprisingly left his mindfucking thumping Atomic stuff in his record bag. He was happy to play some of the more progressive stuff in the genre, such as Electric Tease's "TV is the nu God." Definetely one of the best dj's up till that point.

Max Etnica followed up well, playing some nice stuff, and making up somewhat for the Etnica set earlier on. This festival was starting to look like a battle of the Titans.
But then! I had been dancing for hours and hours already, but after that there was simply no choice but to keep on moving, whether it was on the dancefloor or lying down on the ground. Tristan's live act captivated immediately, building up wonderfully toward his three hours of spinning. Much better than last year at Boom I think, where he was a bit static at times. This year he had the opportunity to spin afterwards, which he carried out perfectly.

By now the inhabitants of this festival had come from all outskirts of the camping area to share this amazing experience. Tristan exposed his broad musical taste brilliantly, molding Pink Floyd and even a vocal part of Placebo beautifully into his outdoor psytrance/psytechno mix. Smiles, grins and cheers popped up from everywhere...

Tristan received a huge applause from the audience when he got to an end. This applause elongated as the crowd realised that it was now time for mister man Posford to do his thing...
Words are not enough to describe what happened then. A few thousand people jumped like madmen, arms were elevated to the sky as to receive some kind of communication from above, as Simon Posford twisted the knobs on his mixing table. He started out with some tracks from his Twisted compilations, and went on with tracks containing female Indian vocals that gave me shivers down my spine as I was bouncing off into oblivion. People looked at each other in awe and with sheer amazement of what was being done to them... this stuff better be released in the near future. ;-)

There was no time to let the Hallucinogen experience sink into the mind, for only a minute later surprise act Total Eclipse took off, and hard. The fire truck came again and boosted the crowd to release some more of that seemingly insatiable hunger for more. I don't know where I got the energy from, but it was not the drugs!

The guys from Total Eclipse were having a great time on stage, with Serge behind the mixing table and Loic playing the keys on his synth. Absolutely brilliant stuff...
One more Titan left in this battle: Flying Rhinoceros mister James Monroe. As every other sane person present, he had been on the dancefloor all day, and now it was his turn to hit the stage. He started off a bit rusty, making some pretty serious mistakes, but gradually he got into the flow. His sound was ultra-groovy, strongly psychedelic and included lots of layers. Many tracks could well have been from his own projects Stoop 'n Fidget and Bumbling Loons. Some of his mixes were truly mind-blowing, as he took the remaining people on a beautiful journey through the realms of electronic psychedelics. How good can it get?!

My legs were the first to tell me that the party was over, but I didn't believe them until James had ended his last track. Profoundly satisfied I could now crawl next to my ladyfriend in a nice comfy hangmat....

The next day we went to see Samothraki's majestic waterfall, and so did everyone else it seemed. We got a ride back to the festival area from some friends (thanks!), and took it easy as our boat back to the mainland left a few hours later. We spent the night at a bus stop, and left the following morning for Amsterdam. As we flew over this beautiful island for the last time, the constant tingle that I had felt at the festival went through me once more. The organisers may have done a better job on the food, the decoration, and the ambiance of the chill-out, but on behalf of the music I could hardly have imagined any better.

It was great to see that there are also psytrance festivals that are not infested by acid casualties. Also, this festival has showed me that psytrance as a music genre has many options to grow towards. I think it is important that this music does not isolate itself from other electronic music styles, and festival has done a good job at showing that psytrance is now embracing that concept. Hovering through space is very inspiring, but in order to grow up it's important to have your feet on the ground... ;)

Untill we meet again,

Wick

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