For about the past five years or so, the general public including myself has had music festivals jammed down their throats. In turn, I've found myself shying away from the usual conventional and monotonous music festival that happens every single year in the same place at the same time at the same location with the same artists and the same crowd. Therefore, I thought I'd try out a new kid on the block called Oasis Festival which was a three-day soiree that went down a few weeks ago right outside of Marrakech, Morocco in Northwestern Africa!
For those of you that have never been to Morocco, there aren't exactly any direct flights there from my home base of Los Angeles, or even from the U.S. for that matter. However, time and distance were not going to get in my way of dancing in Africa to an extended DJ Harvey set.
Upon my arrival to Marrakech on Friday, September 11th and after the usual collect my bags, go through customs, and take a taxi to the hotel routine, I was eager & excited to finally make my way to the inaugural edition of this distant festival. The event took place at the semi-swanky, yet super-chill site at The Fellah Hotel about 20 minutes south of Marrakech.
As I exited the shuttle, I knew I was in the right place because "cool as can be" DJ Harvey was right there front & center at the main entrance chatting it up with festival-goers and taking in the sun rays. At that very point, early on before I even entered the party, I knew this was going to be one cool festival!
DAY ONE (DJ Tennis Rules the Day):
Once inside the festival, I immediately scaled the entire site by exploring every pathway, building, area, and of course, both musical stages. One being the aptly titled "Bamboo Arena" stage which seemed to be the crowd favorite of the weekend due to the close proximity of the DJ and also thanks to the intimacy of the area which was shrouded in bamboo. The second musical area dubbed as the "Desert Oasis" was more of a pool party by day and dance party by night, but it sorely lacked any type of DJ/crowd connection as the DJ booth was set on a second story balcony overlooking the pool.
Admittedly, it took me a few hours to settle into this unlikely festival located at the far reaches of the Earth. So after connecting with a few friends & having a few drinks I was ready to experience the music that Oasis had to offer. Some of the artists that had the honor of warming up the Oasis attendees were (DJ) Chloe out of Paris, Kompakt label boss Michael Mayer, and of course my favorite female DJ duo, Blond:ish with whom I gladly shared the plane ride to Marrakech with. As night settled in on the Moroccan landscape I braced myself for a proper dance.
The sun has just gone down over the Atlas Mountains in Southern Morocco and the festival's first star has just come out to shine. The head honcho for Life and Death which was just named the record label of the year by the DJ Awards, DJ Tennis!
The Italian deep-tech master took charge of the Desert Oasis with a multitude of deep & psychedelic tunes that were as floor-friendly as they were avant-garde. As for the Oasis crowd, they were ready to dance their way into the night as he won them over with his 2014 masterpiece of a remix of "Always Something Better" by Trentemoller.
Night has fallen and Tennis just finished his hypnotic set with the surprisingly upbeat Bob Marley anthem, "Could You Be Loved". Everyone was ready to party and the french maestro Agoria knew his role was to kick it up a notch as he steamrolled through some recent big underground tunes like The Chemical Brothers' "Sometimes I Feel So Deserted". In addition, he laid down some absolute classics such as Dave Clarke's remix of "In The Dark We Live" from way back in 1993! However, to appropriately close his set and segway into Ame's closing DJ set, he spun the recent modern classic "Den Ratta" by none other than Ame.
Ame finished up the night at the Desert Oasis with a deep and hypnotic set while Tini & Cassy went back to back at the Bamboo Stage for an uber-funky and tribal set. Day One of Oasis Festival was in the books and I couldn't wait for day two to begin!
DAY TWO (Vibes at The Bamboo Stage):
Even though I had expected day one to be the biggest day of the three, I was in for quite a surprise. The secret was out and it had been discovered by most that the real party was at the Bamboo Arena and not the Desert Oasis (Main Stage). Think Lee Burridge's All Day I Dream event or Dixon's Lost In a Moment party along with all the positive party vibes that most smaller scale electronic music events are aiming towards nowadays and that was the Bamboo Arena at The Oasis Festival.
The vibes were overwhelmingly strong at the Bamboo Stage and the talent roster was there to support it in addition to an unknown for me who was there to open the day once I arrived at the festival. That DJ being Montreal based artist Driss Skali who spun a spellbinding two hour set of Arabian-inspired deep house which seemed to catch its peak when the modern Innervisions classic "Lost In A Moment" by Lee Burridge & Matthew Dekay captivated the entire group of Bamboo revelers.
As the sun started to set, Driss passed the baton to the German techno wiz Alex Niggemann who built it up with &ME's latest floor filler "Woods"! The set then took a very far upwards direction as he gave the crowd what they wanted as he pulled out his very own weapon, "Materium" and by then the entire Bamboo Arena was dancing in complete unison.
Up next on the evening's menu was none other than DJ Harvey who was not only my most anticipated DJ set for the weekend but also what was indeed hands down the best DJ set of the festival! He was slated to play the longest set of the festival at four hours but he did one better and played until the power was abruptly shut off on him as he clocked his set in at four and a half hours!!
At about the midnight hour, Harvey led the crowd into a trance as he intro'd with an epic 5-10 minute Pink Floyd style intro that soon broke into a deep house fueled journey that included many of today's best underground tunes such as one of 2015's most spectacular dance tune, "Acamar" by Frankey & Sandrino. To put it bluntly, everyone was DJ Harvey's bitch at that point so he went old school on all of us and played some big ones like PJU's "Call Me Up" & Daniel Avery's "All I Need". He even went all the way back to '88 & hammered the acid house classic "No Way Back" by Adonis!! There was indeed no way back from this stage of the night so Harvey kept going until they literally pulled the plug on him. He wasn't very happy about it and neither was everyone else, but we were all musically content and ready to surrender to the looming early morning sunrise.
DAY THREE (Lost Track Of Time):
The final day of Oasis proved to be the most trying for me as some of my most anticipated sets in the main area were a bit of a let down as I can safely say that the artists through no fault of their own failed to connect with their crowd due to the positioning of the DJ booth on the second floor balcony of the main pool area. Therefore, I along with many others found ourselves frolicking at the Bamboo Arena once again which was hosted by Anjunadeep on the final day of Oasis.
Moroccan local, Amine K was my official opener for the day as he was MANIK's replacement since it was reported that he had unfortunately missed a flight. The word going around at the fest was the Amine K had done a wonderful job of opening the festival on Friday so he was invited back as the replacement. He in fact did an exquisite job as the substitute by laying down a fine set filled with appropriately organic house music closing with two absolute gems. Massive Attack's 1991 tune "Unfinished Sympathy" & Bicep's recent hit "Just".
The young female British house music duo known as Eli & Fur may have spun the funkiest house set of the weekend as they threw together an old-school inspired set of deep garage house that included many of their own tunes.
Two more sets left for the weekend but I wasn't quite ready to throw in the towel yet as Anjunadeep label favorite Martin Roth took over and started to take the Bamboo Arena further into the future of electronic music as he spun two stellar yet very recent Pampa zrecords back to back, DJ Koze's "XTC' & Axel Boman's "1979". Next up on Martin Roth's setlist was none other than Maceo Plex' "Solar Detroit". Martin Roth's ethereal DJ set was the perfect opening touch for Pachanga Boys' closing set for The Oasis Festival.
Last but most certainly not least was the German duo known as the Pachanga Boys. They were the final artists on my itinerary and the closing set of the festival as well.
The guys brought the tempo down after Martin Roth by playing in almost half-time and the whole anticipation of the set pointed towards them playing the ultra magnificent tune of theirs entitled "Time". Before I knew it, "Time" was dropped and all was right in the world, well at least at The Oasis Festival. Nearly everyone's eyes stayed shut as they danced for the entire fifteen minutes duration of one of electronic music's most beautiful tracks produced over the past five years.
So there you go. By 2 a.m. Monday morning, The Oasis Festival was a wrap and it's very safe to say that from an attendee's perspective it was a success due in part to a three-part formula that usually makes any electronic music festival a success. First and foremost, the musical roster of talent on the bill was phenomenal. Secondly, the beautiful and unique setting was provided, and third the great crowd of people in turn followed. On top of all that, there was some amazing authentic Moroccan food provided on site and the warm weather could not have been more perfect.
The Oasis Festival is expected to return next year so keep your eyes and ears open for next year's dates & details.
See you next year at Oasis Festival!