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Electric Castle 2015 - Eat, sleep, rave, repeat | FESTIVALPHOTO
 

Electric Castle 2015 - Eat, sleep, rave, repeat

 Betyg

Both the best and the worst festival experience this writer has ever experienced, Electric Castle Festival is, however, far from the kind of event you could wrap up in a sentence or two. While bad weather is what separates the boys from the men when it comes to live gigs, and we had plenty of that, the line-up – quite an interesting mixture of genres, the location (Banffy Castle, in Transylvania), and the concept of the event managed to make all the pain worth it.

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It all started in heavy rain. People, having traveled from all over the country, were arriving at the festival only to discover that just one parking areas out of three available was open, and that the walk from there to the camping ground would probably mean around half an hour in the rain. That the camping ground had turned into a huge pigsty, with mud reaching the ankles, and that rubber boots were an absolute necessity if they had any hope in keeping their socks (at the very least) dry.

However, all this did not stop the pretty decent crowd that gathered in front of the Main Stage, for the headliners of the night, Parov Stelar and Fatboy Slim, followed by the Romanian group Suie Paparude. In fact, the rain only made fans thirstier for more drinks and more dancing, and by the end of the night a huge crowd of dancing rain cloaks was had formed in front of the Boiler Stage, as if Fatboy Slim's “eat, sleep, rave, repeat” had suddenly turned into the motto of the entire event. Both bands were quite impressed by the audience's stoic approach of the pouring rain, and they both gave their best to make sure nobody was going to regret staying for their gigs. The atmosphere was incredible, and day one, in spite of the bad weather and all the other administrative issues, was actually one of the best of the event and a great experience.

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It continued in the mud. Miles and miles of ankle (and occasionally knee-deep mud), from the food court, to the stages, to the camping grounds, and hung-over people dragging their boots through it. The rain had stopped though, and we could explore the location more.

Electric Castle revolves around the half a century-old Banffy Castle, in Translyvania, a place that's otherwise deserted the rest of the year. It's a great choice of venue, and there was plenty of space for a large and varied food court (where you could eat anything from burgers to wok dishes or Romanian traditional food), four stages, and a few R&R areas for chilling out, with matrices and hammocks hidden in the trees and scattered all around the festival grounds.

Day two started with the French group Guts, followed by the super-popular Romanian band Subcarpati, who have an extremely large and loyal fan-base in the country and who, by 7.30 pm, had managed to gather a pretty large, flag waving crowd in front of the main stage. Subcarpati perform a combination of hip-hop and folklore that managed to get everyone pretty hyped and ready for the drum and bass set of Roni Size and Netsky's uplifting, melancholic melodies and heavy dancefloor bass. With the assistance of some pretty awesome light and laser shows, both gigs kept people up and dancing until well passed midnight, after which some scattered towards towards the other, smaller, stages, featuring rock, reggae or electronic acts, while some remained for the heavier dance beats of The Glitch Mob.

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The third day of Electric Castle started with plenty of sunshine and movie tunes, perfomed by the local act Notes and Ties, an orchestra that played a few movie themes (Kill Bill, Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings or Pirates of the Caribbean), followed by the sexy, melancholic punk covers of the French band Nouvelle Vague.

While there's really nothing like listening to two gorgeous women playing a bossa nova version of Too Drunk to Fuck, the audience was quite anxious to see the main acts of the night, Dub Pistols and Rudimental. And while the Dub Pistol's set (and their third at Electric Castle) was quite energetic, in spite of TK Lawrence's age (a headliner who continuously ran from one end of the stage to the other, in a total frenzy), we admit to having skipped the Rudimental gig in favor of a tour of the chillout areas.

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The last day of Electric Castle started on the funky, but relaxed, performace of the Australian group The Cat Empire, who were both a bit monotonous and a weird choice of an opening band for The Prodigy. The same could be said about the punk group The Subways who we've seen before, playing in the afternoon on the maine stage at Sziget Festival 2012, and who proved their evolution through a well rounded up performane and a great interaction with the audience – they learned a lot of phrases in Romanian and the people loved that.

The Prodigy gig might have been the greatest disappointment of the festival thought. In spite of their usual crazy set, epileptic live show and great audience manipulation skills, there were so many people gathered around the main stage, way over our comfort limits, so we barely saw anything, while those who did see, could barely move. There were just too many tickets sold to this gig, and it kind of killed the fun for many of the members of the audience.

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All in all, in spite of the rain and the mud, Electric Castle was a pretty awesome experience. The people were fun, the music made us dance like crazy every night and there were plenty of things to do around the place, even if there was nothing interesting happening on any of the stages. Well organized (in spite of a few hiccups after the rain, before the mud problem was solved though the simple solution of spreading some hay around), set up in a beautiful venue, Electric Castle has the potential of becoming one of the best festivals of this part of Europe. Looking forward to next year!

Writer: Olivier Stroesser
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