Ok, so I like electronic dance music, more specifically Trance. When I started in the 1990's, the US was a bit behind in that department.
Still, with San Francisco and San Jose nearby, I've had some opportunities to see some great EDM/Trance DJs. Back in the early 2000's, they sadly played club music in the US that was nowhere close to the hits they had composed and were known for, but over the years, as Trance started becoming more popular, those DJs finally started playing their good tunes in the US too, and maybe from 2004 on, it's only been getting better. Popsicle Halloween 2004 was really the beginning of great music parties in the San Francisco Area, and thankfully things have gotten even better since then
As a matter of fact, after another 10 years (2015 and beyond) the good news is that Trance has grown quite a following in the US, and places like the SF Bay Area, and while Trance has been declared dead a few times in the last 10 years, it's still going strong here.
Trance Family SF is definitely strong in the area, we've been getting more big trance parties every year, including many top DJs that come visit us what feels like every other week now (as of 2018-2019), and through those events, I made many friends in Trance Family SF. Thanks to you all.
Over those years, I got the chance to meet a few of my favourite DJs, including Armin more than once, and my last hobby has been to work on lights for my shirt and pants (version 3) and (version 4)
Friday night got a massive dust storm right around 21:00, which made it quite difficult for pepole to get around unless they wer able to follow city streets. In my case, we were across playa and we only made it thanks to my GPS, biking absolutely blind for 10mn in a dust storm that would pound your face. But we made it :)
I can't believe it was opulent temple's 20th year on the playa, especially since I was there in 2003 when they first started. They have put more incredible parties each year, and they are entirely self funded. If you can make a financial contribution, please do. You can also buy Merch Here
Opulent Temple had an awesome lineup friday:
22:00 Dulce Vita
23:00 Spencer Brown
00:15 Above & Beyond
02:15 Gabriel & Dresden
05:30 Artimus Prime
good time to bring your flamethrower
DJ Booth was packed
true, the dust storm stopped a lot of people of getting earlier
BAAAHS started a bit late due to some electrical technical problems, so we missed the beginning as it was over 1.5h late and we didn't know where to meet it as a result. I ended up missing Alvin's set, sorry :(
I even made a screen to cheer him on during his set :)
But we found it in time to see Karin Dash:
It was then time for Dave Dresden to take over. This time I got my led outfit ready (last time Dave played during daylight hours anyway, so that wouldn't have worked):
After Dave's beautiful set (I took more video than pictures, see this recording):
Afik took over:
love ya, Afik :)
Great trance, great DJs, therefore great night. Also we had and awesome view of the playa from BAAAHS. Thanks to all.
Again, here is the video summary:
We were so happy to have John 00 Fleming back with us in SF for more hypnotic trance, which he sure delivered.
As always, John was having the time of his life while playing for us, which is always so much fun to experience.
And yes, I had time to make a new display with him :)
As luck would have it, just 5 days after seeing Ferry Corsten as Gouryella at Untold, we got him to perform his "What the F" OTC at Midway, SF. That was a great 5H set, going all over his repertoire of genres. Lucky us!
Ferry was there bright and early:
great thing was the track names in the visuals
I love the lyrics tha I can re-sing the song with:
I had so much fun at Untold last year, that I wanted to go back. I got there right after 4 days at tomorrowland, and I'm so happy I went back. It was definitely more fun for me than tomorrowland on many levels:
This time I flew to Cluj directly, although there aren't many flights there. Lufthansa failed at their one job to put my luggage on the plane, though, and it arrived 1.5 days later. Thankfully I didn't trust them and brought my outfit and anything crutial, with me.
the airport had plenty of untold related things, including trance music when I arrived :)
Ok, those who know me know that I often have rants and thing that each festival could improve. in the case of Untold the list is very small: please ditch the fake money and get rid of in-town.ro, it's broken beyond repair.
Untold is one of those festivals left not to use contactless credit cards. Their system was broken last year, I had to waste time in line to get them to activate my bracelet so that it would even accept money, and money put online didn't get there. This year, same deal, it still didn't work and the money I put online never appeared ever. I was able to put money at a top up point eventually after they fixed my bracelet, and the money I put online never appeared after 4 days. I ended up putting a credit card dispute to get my money back. This is stupid, just stop this BS and take credit cards.
100 I paid onsite worked eventually, the 100 I put online, never worked
the special tech support (only one person) was only able to activate my broken wristband, but never got my online money applied
https://in-town.ro/ is broken in too many ways, get rid of it. Last year, I never even got my wristband barcodes and they had to fish out my payment in some special system to get my wristband. This year, I got the barcodes, but I had to activate my account (for extra money). They took the money and didn't activate the wristbands, forcing me to go back to the same place to fix my wristband and take a picture before being able to go in.
Other probblem was that this is the site used for topups of your fake wristband money, and of course it never put the money on my wristband, but it also never worked on any of my 2 phones, the website just wouldn't log me in. It worked on my computer each time, but obviously I'm not carrying my computer around to the festival. Sigh, computers are hard, let's go shopping :)
small improvement: the android app has a few issues, and is totally missing an interactive map to help you find the nearest top up point (although those need to go), or bathroom, or even where is the galaxy stage?
The venue is really good, and I love the fact that you can literally have lodging less than 10mn on foot from the entrance. That's a huge win compared to every other festival I've been to.
Security was quite reasonable and quick, just like tomorrowland. It was probably a bit more permissive, no issues with my outfit, or slightly oversized LED backpack (A4 paper size is the official limit):
the venue is pretty big, although it would have been nice to have the map on the android app
One thing I like about untold is they don't bother with unreasonable searches, and instead have plenty of security onsite. This is by far the way I prefer, thanks for that:
Although it's not with tomorrowland or EDC levels of money, Untold stands out for its many decors and nice things to see. You don't have to spend more money, that level is already quite a lot of fun and enjoyable
Like those animated fireflies, I'm sure they didn't cost much, but they were totally awesome:
Lots of fun things to see, get makeup, take pictures:
Food options were plentiful, with the caveat that you have to pay with the wristband fake money that doesn't work well:
If you smoked enough (lots of smokers in Romania), you could win some iFly ride, although it was more fun to watch the performers do it:
including an LED dancer
This is one thing that makes Untold special, it's not just a festival for the few, but it feels like the entire town comes to party, including children. That's awesome:
Untold has lots of costumed dancers:
And some of the attendees too, of course I did my part, and it was great to run into some of the same friends from the around the world, again:
Aryel was having way too much fun again :)
Also fun to see some of my favorite DJs again:
I took *a lot* this year, this is partially because I have 2 cameras in addition to my 2 phones, and I attached one to a pole with battery packs, to record some sets while still being able to enjoy them:
While Lufthansa didn't get my luggage there, at least they got me there on time, which given all the flight issues in Europe was not a given. After getting settled at the apartment I was able to find closeby, time to go enjoy the show, day 1 out of 4. I had all my outfit in my oversized and way heavy carry-on, so thankfully I was ready for the night :)
Well, except for the stupid in-town.ro website that failed again, and didn't allow me to register and required a special visit to the reconcilliation tent again. Thankfully they fixed it quickly.
I tried to go to mainstage a bit more. For the most part, not my music, and dumbed down EDM, but can't argue with the lighting, lasers, and fireworks :) On the first day, we had Vini Vici and Above and Beyond, so that gave me an excuse to spend time there :)
Next was above and beyond, it was my 3rd time seeing them in less than 2 weeks :)
After that, back to fortune for more trance:
Video Summary of the night:
Let's do this again:
I was super excited to see Steve/The Thrillseekers as Hydra, so good to have him back, it was a stellar set that I was able to record in full:
Lots more at fortune that night:
stop the war in Ukraine
Aly & Fila was next, great to see him again after just a few days. I was also able to record that set in full:
Then, we had Sean Tyas, another set I was able to record in full:
And more, I also went to check out mainstage a bit:
they had a mosh pit, great
clearly I've been missing out :)
Day #2 Summary:
One unusual thing at untold is the daydreaming stage. It's not something I'd listen to all night, but it's definitely enjoyable to spend some time at:
But spent most of my time at Fortune as always :)
It did briefly go check out Galaxy, interesting stage but not my music:
Back to the safety of fortune :)
Just in time for Ruben de Ronde, for which I have a full set recording:
Giuseppe Ottaviani was next:
Had a bit of a look at other stages:
Back for Andrew Rayel:
And finishing the night with Xijaro and Pitch, for which I have a full recording:
Day #3 Summary:
Day #4, Home Stretch
I opened the day at daydreaming:
Then went to see my friends Exolight and Suncatcher, for which I have a full set recording:
Much more trance for that night:
ATB was next to play his first set at fortune, it was packed. Here is a full video:
I ducked out quickly to mainstage for the closing ceremony with fireworks:
Came back just in time for Emma Hewitt, also have a full recording:
And Xmas was not over, Ferry Corsten was next for a Gouryella set, so much love (also fully recorded):
Jorn van Deynhoven was next:
But ATB went to do another set, at mainstage this time (mostly recorded):
And had a bit time left to see the WLT:
After that fortune went back to hardstyle, so I went elsewhere for fun :)
The night actually finished with some good rain, made good use of my umbrella so that my outfit didn't short and catch fire :)
'till next time
Lots of fun like last year, Fortune was pretty much pure joy all the way, except the hardstyle sets during the last hour: not my thing and felt pretty out of place for that stage.
It was lots of fun. Please fix the fake wristband money so that I can not worry about that again next time, as I hope to come back:
Made my flight, long trip back to California, sure slept on the planes :)
That was my first tomorrowland. Getting tickets was "interesting", I got help from a friend of a friend who got tickets that included camping I had no intention of using, that put the regular tickets at close to $800, which is the price of VIP tickets for EDC. I definitely owe thanks to Larry Lim and David for the help with getting tickets this year.
Given that tomorrowland is 2/3rd during daylight, I brought my older LED outfit that is brighter, and then switched to the better one at night:
We got there in thursday to pick up the wristbands (OMG, that was quite complicated: Tomorrowland forces you to assign tickets to people months before the event, and changing the person the ticket is assigned to, is extremely hard, it requires a signed power of attorney from the original ticket buyer, why so hard, seriously? I guess because they can, but that's not the best way to treat customers who already paid for way overpriced tickets).
Despite the stress related to getting the wristband they could deny despite having travelled across the world, we got in and went to visit Dreamville, the huge campsite where most pepole stay since getting in and out of Tomorrowland is not that trivial, especially when they block all the roads and prevent public transportation from getting there and back (shame!). The 300 city bus from Mechelen kind of worked to get us there if you didn't miss it (otherwise it was a 65 euro taxi there and 100 euros back, ouch). Dreamville was huge, it took 15mn to walk across, which was impressive:
Not Quite a Trance Heaven?
If you're wondering why I'm making a point of saying this, it's a major festival with more than 10 stages and DJs from across the world. There are 3 weekends, and you often don't even know who is going to play when you buy a ticket. Turns out week 3 when I went, was the one that had the most trance, with a Trance stage the first day, and ajnunabeats on the 2nd day, as well as some psytrance running at the same time.
Unfortunately the trance stage on day 1 was very small (Kara Savi), in the hot sun with no shade, and a road with people crossing constantly if you were trying to enjoy the music from the shade of a tree. The sound was actually good, but the stage size was super disappointing, it was packed and it was hard to see the DJ plenty of times. Part of me though they gave it a shit stage because tomorrowland people don't care about trance, but in real live, anjunabeats and psytrance were packed the next day, so they just didn't care and put major trance artists on a small stage that couldn't accommodate enough people, which was sad.
The next day was better with anjunabeats vs psytrance, but then again why the conflict? There was 0 trance on day #3, it would have made so much more sense to put those on different days...
To compare, although Creamfields had problems bad enough that I'm unlikely to go back, it had lots more trance (even if the sound engineers screwed it up badly enough that you couldn't enjoy it much at one stage), and Untold also has a solid trance lineup, solid enough that it's difficult to go see other stages :)
All in all, when I saw some the wonderful other stages, and have fond memories of seeing Ferry Corsten play a huge room with great visuals, it was disappointing not to have our trance artists in any of them.
Day 0: Thursday
On thursday, they opened a very short part of the festival to run one stage for people staying at the campground and we had multiple DJs playing one stage until midnight:
as a surprise set, Vini Vici closed the night
Video summary of Thursday:
Then time to go home and find an expensive taxi back (uber wasn't really an option, too few of them):
nice shaded areas for eating
I should have checked to see how full or empty the bin was :)
Most people weren't wearing any outfits, not a thing in Europe as much, but a few were, including the costumed staff
it was fun to see Paavo just 5 days after seeing him at the Gorge
fun to run into friends again
Day 1: Friday, Trance Day at the Small Stage
Day #1, the entrance was from the tomorrowland side, over 45mn walk away from the dreamville entrance on the other side. It was a bit closer to where the city bus dropped us, so that was good.
We went to the trance stage right after arriving to enjoy the trance lineup, although that was in blazing sun, or far away under a tree, not great conditions. The stage was also small and hard to get around due to a path that crossed past it and some strange one way signs
all day we had people walking by, nice for people watching, but distracting for the set
Sander Van Doorn
Aly and Fila was next
John O Callaghan
Quick look at mainstage to see a bit of Tiesto:
Next, was an attempt at seeing Eric Prydz, but the room was packed as hell. Should have arrived earlier indeed:
Then back to Kara Savi for Alessandra Roncone and Craig Connely:
Hi Aryel :)
Great to see Alessandra after her set
Video summary of Friday:
Day 2: Saturday, Psytrance and Anjunabeats
Time was spent between Youphoria (psytrance), and Crystal Garden (anjunabeats). The psytrance lineup was actually solid, it's just unfortunate that tomorrowland thought it was a good thing to put both tracks in conflict on saturday, and then 0 (psy)trance on sunday.
Ilan Bluestone did a great set
Quick look at mainstage again;
Back to Crystal Garden for Above and Beyond:
their graphics didn't display well, though
I was worried that few people at Tomorrowland cared about trance, and that's why it got a shit stage, but there were lots of pepole during Above and Beyond, and ultimately people seem to care about the stage more than the genre. This does mean they could have put trance in a much nicer stage and they chose not to.
And Finishing the night at Youphoria for Astrix, another enjoyable set that was quite packed too:
The bad part about saturday, is that to cater to the locals, they moved off all the busses and shuttles far away (30 to 40mn walk from inside the festival) and in the process they entirely blocked off the city bus we were supposed to take home. Their staff had no clue about where the bus was re-routed and mostly lied to us to go on a long crappy walk where we then had to take a bus to a parking lot to a taxi stand for another expensive taxi. Not happy...
the walk was so long that they had fire jugglers along the way
eventually you go to a bus depot (about 30 to 40mn from when you left the event), but none of those busses were for us
Video summary of Saturday:
Day 3: Sunday, Exploring Day
Given how bad the transport options from Mechelen, were, we took a cab that tried to get us as close as possible, which ultimately was still quite far because of all the closed streets, but that allowed me to plot an exit route for the way out, direct to the back of the cab line to save time on the way out. It was a 10mn+ walk in, but reversing it allowed us direct access to the end of the cab line, which helped on the way out
locals on the way hard music and drinks for sale
Once in, there wasn't a whole lot on the schedule that looked important, so it was a good time to go around all the stages3108*|interesting to see the stage when it wasn't as packed as with Eric Prydz
Would have loved to see Ferry Corsten here
Tgere was a nice ferris wheel, but the line was a bit long;
Plenty of other stages:
this is the only stage that was always full and I wasn't able to get into
that said this stage was pretty full too
After a good amount of exploring, time to enjoy a few sets:
I had the perfect outfit for infected mushroom at the mushroom stage :)
And went to finish the night with Vini Vici at the library, and it was packed:
luckily, I had the perfect outfit for that set too :)
we got a bit of rain, which made for nice visuals :)
And just like that, the night was over:
Video summary of Sunday:
Time for a long walk out with a shortcut I plotted to the back of the super long taxi line. Although the previous night they screwed us over by making us walk 30mn in the wrong direction just to miss our city bus and take an expensive cab, I got to a place where we were to get a ride and avoid the huge cab line (although it was yet another $100 due to lack of transport to Mechelen, ubers that were geofenced off, and very overpriced cabs). Sure, there were private busses you could book to far away locations, but those looked like they would take you a while to get home too
long cab line that we thankfully avoided
Thoughts and Conclusions
Tickets are had to get, they're expensive, tomorrowland tries to get you to pay for overpriced packages you don't want or need, to secure a ticket, and they make ticket transfer complicated to avoid resellers I assume. However in my case it was very complicated and stressful to get a ticket re-assigned to a new person a few weeks before the event. This is too complicated and unnecessary, other festivals don't do this
Security was more than reasonable. They either didn't check me very carefully, or were fine with my outfit. Ultimately they mostly cared about not bringing food/drinks and weapons, which is fine by me (although a metal cup counted as a weapon, and so did an LED baton).
backstage access was well controlled, except for the occasional backdoor/holes
All in all, given the size of the event, I found security screening to be sufficient without being too much, as well as being efficient (pretty fast to get in). Much better than nearby luminosity for sure with all its over the top rules.
Fake Money/Pearl BS
This is one of the few festivals left that thinks it's still ok to do this fake money BS. With most people having contactless credit cards and pay by phone, they are of course totally useless today, and at least luminosity got the memo this year and switched to those.
I'll add that their fake currency is likely designed to make sure people have no idea what they're spending, and they of course hope you'll end up with left over unspent pearls that you can't get refunded (they claim it's automatic if you put money online before the event, but at the same time, putting money online was broken and they discouraged you from trying it as it could take over a day for your money to show up).
All in all, I'm not impressed and I hope they stop this nonsense, but since they profit from it and have more people who want to go than tickets for sale, they will probably continue this crap unless people complain very loudly that it has to stop.
Putting aside the pearl BS, the food options were quite good:
Even a nice garden with more good food, or actual restaurants:
where is the last festival you had lobster, at?
So, sure, it is challenging, and given that they have to cater to locals and avoid traffic and noise, they went and maybe had to go over the top in blocking streets everywhere around the venue to the point that even cabs had to drop you off 15mn away or more. This does not include the 40mn or more to get the kiss and ride east taxi stand, or city busses (300) being blocked from operating, which was kind of bullshit.
How much better can it really be? I'll honestly say that since I don't have all the variables, I can't say, but seems to me that it can be improved and that it's probably ok for a few residents to have to suck up a bit of noise until 02:00 a few days per year.
I was pretty unhappy with the very overpriced cabs that charge whatever flat rate they want for distances that were not that far, and the fact that the city apparently managed to block off ubers entirely to remove competition, which is unacceptable.
Clearly the festival grounds are very impressive, outside of a couple of stages that were poor, including sadly the trance stage, most were between good to very impressive. Once you're inside the venue, it's actually quite good overall, except for some questionable foot traffic flow + where you were forced to walk around some one way paths.
The Music was good too, although there is the problem that with 3 weekends, you don't always know which artists are going to be playing on a given weekend until after you've already booked it, which is unfortunate.
Clearly it's a nice festival, but it's expensive, complicated to get in and out of compared to let's say untold where you can walk to the venue or take a quick bus or electric scooter.nues/Stages/Music, and even compared to EDC, I got from my Vegas strip hotel room to EDC and back quicker than from Mechelen to Tomorrowland, and for much cheaper.
If you add transport, Tomorrowland is not cheap. I'd say it's on par with EDC Vegas, although EDC mostly doesn't sell out and everyone gets to enjoy the same artists, and I think EDC has a bit more of a whoa factor, even if tomorrowland is quite good too. Tomorrowland does win for nature (park, water, ducks, etc), while EDC is sitting in the middle of a racetrack in the desert, although that also means rain at EDC is super unlikely, which is not true for tomorrowland
Untold though, is probably my favorite in Europe since it's 4 days, big and impressive enough, and has a better feel with all the locals coming to party too, including kids. Untold also ends up being cheaper and doesn't sell out either.
Will I go back? For creamfields, the security and staff were so bad, plus so many other problems, that I'm unlikely to go back. For tomorrowland I'd say maybe, except for the fact that I don't love having to fight for tickets, being forced to buy some overpriced package with a poor hotel room far away just to get a ticket (or hell, now they also sell you NFTs to help ensure a ticket allocation), not really knowing if the lineup will be nice on a given weekend, before buying the tickets, or knowing if my favorite artists if they come, could end up at an underwhelming stage like Kara Savi. So let's say, maybe?
It had been 3 years since our last weekender at the gorge with Above and Beyond and this year we also have an Above and Beyond Group Therapy 500 in LA, but given that it's going to be at the Banc of California, which I now know after ASOT 1000, is a terrible venue, I was looking forward to the weekender as a much better event, which of course it ended up being.
Glad to be back and great to be able to see and meet some of my favorite DJs:
Like last time, we rented an RV, and got one from Pasco (tri-city) airport, which was closer to the venue adn where we were able to pick up our rental RV from (thanks to Alvin for finding it for us):
technically it can sleep 10, but it was comfortable enough for 7
Pre-party on friday
The pre-party started at 18:00 on friday, we had DJs play on Walter the Bus, from burning man. I only got there around 19:30 since it took us a bit of time to arrive and get setup and by then the party was already well going despite the blazing sun:
getting the LED totem ready
Paavo and Aname (formerly gardenstate), were already playing
As usual, ran into some friends:
Natalie came with us
Finally it got dark (late due to north location and summer hours):
People and Friends
As always, great to run into fun people and friends:
Smmary of pre-party at Walter the Bus:
We stayed in gold camping, close to the venue, but far from the pivit in general camping where all the paries, are
this is a bit burning man like :)
The venue opened at 14:00 (or 13:00 for merch), so I got there then:
got to check out walter the bus
then got a free tmobile chair and a nice viewing point in the shade
nice views of the gorge of course
Again, a late sunset, but great views:
I went to check out the pit for a short while, but it was packed, and honestly the views weren't as good.
but I got to run into my friend Bryan
so I went back up for a good view of the Above and Beyond set:
we're all we need indeed
I was ready for it :)
surprise, push the button is back!
Then, there were the lasers, those were impressive:
Smmary of Day #1 at mainstage:
Genix was last from 00:00 to 01:00 but instead I went to the afterparty in the campgrounds:
Gem and Tauri joined
Party shut down around 03:00 and it was time for a bit of rest for the next day
Smmary of afterparty:
Sunday was Deep House day, not my favorite, but still fun
let's do this again, this time it opened at 13:00
some cool acro yoga
A few views from the ferris wheel:
Then I went to check out the flow state yoga/meditation with Paavo, it was really good:
It was really good, here is a video recording:
I went to scope a chair and nice shaded spot to watch the show in 100F heat:
kudos to those who went dancing in the sun
good day to enjoy the great view
I'm still not quite ready for Qrion :)
lots of people went to enjoy the sun despite the heat :)
Thankfully, the sun did eventually set, giving great views again:
hard to beat the view
Back to the show:
Got to go on stage, great views:
Smmary of Day #2 at mainstage:
I then tried to go to the afterparty. The main one was cancelled due to sound concerns I think, but there was a smaller party from the Instigators, although it was hard to get in due to limited space:
and I then went back to the RV to get a bit of sleep before the 09:30 departure the next morning to catch our flights
Smmary of afterparty:
Obviously we had a fantastic time, it was great to be back after 2019, and thank you to all the DJs and people who were the life of the party. Hope to see you next time.
I had some free Audiotistic tickets for sunday that Insomniac gave me after going to EDC Vegas. It's not really my type of music, but it was so close to home that I went to check it out. While techno is not my typical music, Rezz is reasonably entertaining, so that was worth my going just for that, even if her set was just 1h15.
I'm glad I skipped the day from 14:00 on, it was hot as hell, even when I arrived around 19:30, it was still warm, and another 1h15 before it started getting dark enough and my outfit started shining a bit :)
The event had 2 stages without any sound bleed between them, I went to check out a few DJs to hear some music I otherwise never hear. Can't say I really loved any of it :)
third bonus stage
Still fun to see people and totems:
Then, by 20:45, Rezz took over mainstage for a fun techno set. Still, techno isn't really my thing, but I was able to resonate with it, and the visuals were definitely fun, adding to the show:
It was a fun show, even if I only went for a short part of it:
Paying toilets is not an uncommon practise in Holland which seems to like charging for things that you take for granted, but that's doesn't mean it's right, and for an international festival, that was a very bad move, got many people upset, and was just not a good way to make a bit of extra money. Given that it was too late to raise ticket prices, a donation box to help with the budget shortfall and the loss of revenue during covid, would have worked so much better, as well as selling some expensive "I helped lumi" tshirts, or bands, or anything. Anything but that...
To make things worse, you didn't get a wristband anymore, because in and outs were now forbidden, likely another attempt to increase revenue, and force people to deal with the quite limited food options at the venue. Outside of overpriced bananas, soggy fries, and decent pizza, the rest was really just survival food. So now you only got a wristband to be able to use the toilet for 4 days after you had paid extra. Sigh, not the best way to do things...
next year, we will go see this guy :)
After enough uproar, I think they stopped checking if people had paid.
Several people said they should have just sold a wristband that did nothing for 10 euros as souvenir and "thanks for your donations", it would have worked better than the "toilet wristband". I agree.
Another challenge was the lack of real bathrooms. There were plenty of porta potties, but well, they were smack next to the coco beach stage, and if wind went in the wrong direction, you can imagine what happened :( I don't have a good suggestion here, it's a problem with the venue, and I'm not sure what the solution is. I've never had issues with bathroom smells at any EDC or Dreamstate though, not sure what they do differently.
No tap water, pretense that recycling was a concern when huge amounts of non recyclable plastic waste was created, and the bottlecap BS wasn't over yet either
Next, holland loves to sell you bottled water, and good luck getting tap water in a restaurant there, but lumi pushed things to 0 access to tap water, at all and making sure you couldn't bring your own water in. The only official source of water were 6.5 euros water, which for 4 days at 1.5l per day, was going to be 12 bottles at 78 euros, for water only, sigh
Did everyone spend that much? Of course not, but too many people also danced dehydrated which is just unsafe, especially in combination with some drugs. People have died from dehydration at festivals, I have a hard time understanding how lumi thought it was a good idea. That didn't even count desperate people getting water from the hand wash stations, which was tap water that came in buckets, but probably not in a container that was very safe to drink:
So yeah, it felt a bit insulting when they reminded us to drink and there was no free water anywhere:
And yes, those who know me, that when I see clear problems, I'm not shy about pointing them out. For those who will say "but it's only money, they need money, just give it to them", I'll reply again that I would happily have put 50 euros in a donation box at the entrance for the 4 days (in the end, I ended up buying 2 tickets for one), but this also would also ignore the super long lines to get said water, that they tried to sell you one bottle at a time, while keeping the bottlecap. Yes, yes, they weren't done with the bottlecap bullshit either. OMG, why? FFS, you're already selling water for the price of alcohol, and you still need to steal the bottlecaps to prevent people from being able to conserve that water more easily? This really does not bring happiness and again makes Lumi stand out as festival with very questionable rules. Please fix this.
As a side effect, it also caused people to waste non trivial amounts of time in long lines to get the water they needed. Really sad...
yeah, lots of long lines to get water, often one bottle at a time and without bottle caps
Oh right, and they said they were worried about plastic waste, so they had a fairly cumbersome system with tokens to exchange against empty glasses or bottles, or you were fined another 50 cents for each drink for failing to recycle, even if you had thrown your stuff in a bin. But really the worst part is that plastic is mostly not recyclable, never was, probably never will, so the whole recycling is a lie. If you are worried about the environment (and you should be), stop this bottled water nonsense, allow hydration bags and provide water fountains.
Ah crap, what do I do with these now?
Ironically, this is what I wrote in my 2019 Lumi report, and it only got worse this year :( Just charge what you need to charge on the tickets and let people hydrate as they need to. If only one person ends up in the hospital or worse due to dehydration, that is not worth it. Insomniac got the clue, Lumi not yet.
Will 2023 be the year that Luminosity changes things for the better? Time will tell, although give them your feedback too, they need to hear from everyone.
Paying with tokens
Haha, this time it's not a rant. They listened to feedback and got rid of the token system. You could pay with your phone or any RF credit card, and for people without either, they sold you RF cards you could pay with. Well done.
Ok, that one is also a sore point for me. They employ a 3rd party security company that Bo says they have no control over (as in Bo said he was not able to tell them to please allow my LED outfit which is designed to bring smiles and not, as the security people tried to claim in 2019, strangle people with my LED strips. They cost way too much for that anyway, I'd be using my non forbidden shoe laces instead...)
The list of forbidden items was very long, including a requirement to have transparent bags that people didn't have. They didn't enforce that part, but why then create angst with rules that don't get enforced? They had enhanced searches, looking all the way inside people's wallets (!) and even stole people's sunscreen, you know, the thing we need not to get cancer (I had 5 skin cancers removed already, so I very much do care). You will say that they helpfully offered poor quality and empty sunscreen containers at the medical station, yeah, sure. I'll stick to my real and non empty sunscreen, thank you.
here is the free empty poor sunscreen you could use after they had stolen your premium one at security, thank you
This is the enhanced security that I decided not to deal with after I recognized the exact person who took my entire LED oufit away last year saying I could injure others with it and strangle people with my LED strips. I'm sure they were also busy confiscating all the spare bottlecaps they could get their hands, on.
Security is hard, this is true, but with the security people enforcing petty things like taking sunscreen and water, and then telling people like me what they were a danger to others, is just not a win and does not make the event more fun or more welcoming. I'm unlikely to ever go to creamfields again, and I would rather not haver to do the same thing with Lumi.
Please re-visit the security rules, festival-goers are the customers, not the enemy, please be nice to us, restrict the search to weapons and real risks, give some leeway on the rest, and use security staff on the field to keep the event safe while it's happening. That's what other festivals do, successfully.
Sound quality/Sound Bleed
Another issue with the venue was the layout made it difficult to have 4 stages and there was pretty terrible soundbleed between them. The sunset stage was the worst one, you could barely hear its sound and you sure could hear plenty sound from the classics stage, which was a bummer. Classics also bled onto mainstage if you were behind it on the hill to see mainstage. All in all the sound was challenging, and probably not because the sound engineers sucked, but because that venue was challenging to use for 4 stages.
Again, I don't have a good suggestion here, the previous venue was way worse with the sound restrictions until 17:00 (to the point that could barely hear some DJs playing). Looks like playing by the beach with neighbors is just difficult and they tried the best they could. Thank you.
New Venue: Bernie's Beach Club close to Zandvoort
a convenient change is that the new location is only 10mn bike ride from Zandvoort
mainstage was now smack against beach houses, I'm sure the residents didn't love that :)
overview, with 2 pools that were off limits
So, what about the new location? The last one kind of sucked given the sound limits that prevented DJs from playing anything you could hear until around 17:00 (with the event start moved from 12:00 to 15:00), that was disappointing. So at least this time the event was 12:00 to 23:00, which was better, but for the LED geek night owls like me, that wasn't great as the event was over before twilight was fully over (sunset itself was around 22:20 as the longest day of the year was during Lumi). Also, I felt guy for whoever did the lighting and lasers that only got used about 45mn per day
It was convenient to be closer to Zandvoort, but this was sandwiched between 2 sets of properties and residents which were not thrilled with the music I'm sure. It's unclear how much they'll complain and try to get the event shut down or moved.
One issue with the venue was that it was not friendly to those with disabilities, but realistically few venues by the beach will probably be. They did put some boards on the sand that made things a bit more liveable for wheelchairs, but without a strong friend to push up, it was very steep in several places. That's not an easy problem to solve, either.
Again, despite the challenges, I liked the extended hours (11h/day instead of 6 to 9H in 2019 depending on sound levels), and it seemed more roomy in places.
Let's start with mainstage. It was covered for when it rained (and it did rain), and if you were within that area, sound was good, but at times, it was a bit too small to contain the amount of people who attended on saturday and sunday. It was definitely the best stage with nice lighting and lasers that unfortunately we only got to enjoy about 45mn per day due to the late sunsets:
Coco beach was ok enough, until the toilets started smelling, and then it was no fun anymore :(
The DJs had a lounge to rest and get a bit of time off:
You've likely already heard me say that, vampire me doesn't love day festivals due to the blazing sun, and unfortunately lumi is 95% during daylight hours. This of course meant virtually no night lights, and more generally only a few people had costumes, but thank you to those who did.
I brought my otherwise obsolete version 3 LED outfit because it was might brighter during daylight (but also sucked more batteries)
when it got dark enough, I was able to switch to my regular outfit for a mere 90 minutes before the festival was over
we had pink day when FactorB played to honor the passing of his lovely partner, to cancer
some of the SF crew that came along
At least some people had fun T-shirts :)
And OMG, someone came up to me and said "Dude, were you with me at UCPA in Ibiza 20 years ago"? Well, damn, sure I was, we were in the same exercise + party group that flew there for a week or two in 2003/2004. This one definitely wins the "Eh, I saw you at X" contest ;)
Like every day, I arrived bright an early just before noon every day to enjoy all the artists. The first day, I also got to sope the grounds a little bit.
I was very excited for Craig's set, which even though it was the 3rd time I was seeing him in 2 weeks, I sure didn't mind :) As always, he didn't disappoint.
like several artists, Craig nicely went to take pictures with his fans
Back to other stages:
I then went back to mainstage to see Richard Durang and Paul Oakenfold with Nadine and Robert, both had very enjoyable sets:
Paul was next:
Richard definitely had fun :)
haha, nice shot :)
But plenty of other sets and DJs:
sunset stage was unfortunately the poorest of them all, hard to see the DJ and to hear the sound
Don't be fooled, sunset was very late, half way through the last set of the night
Speaking of the end of the night, went to see John 00 Flemming, who had another great hypnotic set:
PvD came to listen to him
and Oakey came too, allowing me to shoot that double Paul picture :)
Ok, and a bit of Mark Sherry to see mainstage and the poor laser that only had about 30mn to shine:
found a few friends, Aryel and Alessandra Roncone
And just like that, day #1 was over, still twilight to bike home:
Summary Video for Day #1:
Day #2 started with Orkidea:
Roger Sha did a lovely live set
It's only been 2 weeks since I saw Will Atkinson
Delighted to see him again, fun set full of energy
And then AA meeting:
Back to mainstage with Gareth Emery, PvD, and Aly & Fila to close the night:
and another 30mn for the lasers to shine
Aly went all in and didn't stop when he was supposed to, good for him, we loved it :)
Summary Video for Day #2:
Day 3 was the day of rain, it started as soon as the event opened, which cleared the non covered part of mainstage:
My friend Aryel and the other Romanian trance lovers then went to see exolight whom I first discovered at untold last year, and have quite enjoyed since then :)
Then was time for FactorB, OMG that was emotional, he did such a beautiful job. After recently losing his lovely partner to cancer, he gave her a very touching homage. Everyone who saw it said how beautiful a set it was:
Giuseppe was next, it's time to play again :)
someone managed to have a makeshift totem even though they were forbidden, good job, haha
By then, it was pouring rain, so I used my LED outfit to do a rain dance :)
one good thing with the rain was that it was dim enough to use my real LED outfit
Summary Video for Day #3:
The last day of a 3-4 day festival is always interesting, it's a mix of who still has enough energy to dance, and the "party hard, it's the last day" crowd. Given that I was able to get enough sleep, I was doing quite well, so day #4, here we go:
great to see Xijaro and Pitch again, unfortunately the sound quality was quite poor
By then, Mike took over mainstage, Maybe because it was sunday, MIKE decided that trance was for suckers, and blasted something that was more techno and the the crowd sure didn't mind :)
because it was day 4, and it wasn't safe to take my LED outfit home to fix it, it was running on fumes and was partially broken, but whatever :)
Robert Nickson got a spot on Coco stage
We then got more hard beats from JoC:
Markus was next:
And the night, which still wasn't night, finished with Key 4050 and Solarstone:
Last sunset and finally some darkness:
Summary Video for Day #4:
So, there was an afterparty at Panama in Amsterdam, but honestly it was close to 1h away, then for anyone staying in Zandvoort, you had to find a way back when trains were probably not running at night, and most of us were then going to Amsterdam to get out on monday. 3 back and forth trips in the same night didn't seem that appealing for a few more hours of trance when I already had had 44 hours :) I would have gone to an afterparty in Zandvoort if there was one...
And as luck would have it, I found one on my ride home, some guys started a party from the back of a car, and we continued to dance there until the batteries ran out.
the police came to say hi, but drove off after a minute
Despite the challenges and a few questionable ways to make up the budget shortfall, we still had a great time, but many said online that they were fairly upset and offended by the water/toilet situation this year, I really hope it gets fixed.
raise the ticket price, pure and simple. Don't play those ridiculous and somewhat dangerous water games that waste everyone's time. Just charge us what you need to make a healthy profit
Other venue/fixing the sound bleed? This one is tricky, clearly the venue is sandwiched between 2 sets of properties, the dune, and high tide. Not really any room to expand, I think they did the best they could. Still, maybe a different layout would help some of the sound bleed issues, and at least raising the sound and fixing the equalizer setting for the sunset stage?
Bathrooms: maybe they can be moved closer to the entrance, away from the stages. Yes, it's a walk up, but not bathroom smell by the stage next to it would be good, and it allows for more room to expand a bit?
Running tap water, 'nuff said
Have a serious talk with the insomniac and/or untold folks on how they do security right. They keep the event secure without having lots of unreasonable restrictions that make the guests unhappy, or worse. A completely clueless and unprofessional (hello Creamfields) or over-reaching and not very rational (Sorry, lumi, that's you) security team really can ruin the experience for attendees. Please fix it.
VIP tickets? There were some VIP wristbands, I don't think they were for sale, I'm not even sure if they are a good idea given that Lumi is kind of a "everyone is the same" kind of event, but still worth considering?
this seemed to be the VIP area
For the venue, not everyone loved it. I agree it had challenges, but let's be reasonable: the options are likely limited. I'm sure that Luminosity did their best given lots of challenges. I with them good luck talking to the city council and dealing with some the nearby residents who probably were not happy with the event and 44H of trance, hopefully it worked out ok for most.
And yes, despite the challenges, it was still a fun event. Warm thanks to Bo and all the crew that made it happen and all the DJs who played for us, you rule!