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Review: Vortex Phoenix Festival of Fire 2015

“It’s winter,” they said. “It’ll be cold,” they said. “We’ll wait for summer,” they said. But they were wrong. If you were at the Vortex Phoenix Festival of Fire, you’ll know I mean it when I say that it’s a gathering unlike any other. So intimate and entrancing that it’s almost impossible to forget. That’s why on Saturday the 27th of June, I was on route to Riversonderend once again, ready to kick up the dust and brush off those winter blues.

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I arrived as the sun was setting; waves of tranquillity passed through me upon entering the sacred space – the Circle of Dreams, my favourite venue of all time. I watched as the scene shifted from day to night. The lights slowly set aglow. I thought about the Shaman’s ceremony which had happened the night before and regretted missing it. Unfortunately, the nine to five can’t always be avoided. But none of that mattered right then.

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Sad Paradise had just closed shop and Headroom’s captivating beats imploded through the forest. There’s no doubt that Vortex had stepped up its game since last year, providing ample heaters and fires to keep us warm and snug. Not to mention the stupendous décor. By the time DJ Mark took the reins, it was all systems go. Continue reading Review: Vortex Phoenix Festival of Fire 2015

Review: Love & Light 2014

Love & Light is an event characterised by uplifting daytime beats, beautiful surroundings and happy people. This year’s instalment was held at the Mountain Shadows Guest House in Paarl; setting expectations high with a line-up featuring live performances by Astrix, Liquid Soul, Ticon and Critical Choice.

Photo: Stu Shapiro Photography.
Photo: Stu Shapiro Photography.

Continue reading Review: Love & Light 2014

Review: Earthdance Cape Town 2014 (Sunday)

The great thing about hitting a trance party on Sunday is the fact that you get to climb into your bed after all is said and done; but that never makes it any easier to get up at six in the morning. After dragging my lazy self out of bed at the crack of dawn, we were on route to Nekkies. A few hours later, arm-bands and all, we had arrived at our destination.

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I wasted no time in heading to the Sky Temple; the party was in full swing as Zezia finished up his set. But what struck me was the décor. It’s no secret that Artescape is famed for their mind-altering displays but this was something else entirely. Was it a psychedelic Taj Mahal or simply the best stage set-up I had ever seen? I don’t know; one thing’s for sure, Earthdance continues to amaze me, year after year. Continue reading Review: Earthdance Cape Town 2014 (Sunday)

Review: Origin Festival 2014 (Saturday – Sunday)

It’s 9.00 on Saturday morning and after much anticipation, we are on route to Origin Festival. It’s my first time so I can’t contain my excitement. I ask, “are we there yet?” about twenty times.  When we finally arrive at the beautiful Elandskloof in Helderstroom, I’m greeted by an awesome shaded camping spot, the lush forest and a little dam to enjoy later.

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Aumega origin elandskloof helderstoom venue

Photo: Aumega Photography.
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We hurriedly pitch our tent, eager to hit the dancefloor. When we enter the jungle-like Beats Stage, Travisto is in the DJ box pumping his melodies. The vibe is infectious; Djs throw lilos into the crowd and everyone is smiling. Then the beat drops and I feel like I’ve finally come home.

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I’m chilling next to the dam with the other party-goers merrily soaking up the sun. Before I know it, the Spanish muso, Elrow‘s on stage for a special session featuring Toni Varga and De La Swing. I’m on the dance-floor jamming beneath the trees; and I’m in love with the festival already.

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Photo: Aumega Photography.

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We head for the Origin Floor, but I’m lured into the Chill Zone. I have a chance to admire Artescape‘s handywork. The décor is unbelievably beautiful (possibly the best I’ve seen all year) and the mountains are a magical backdrop.

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Photo: Aumega Photography.

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Psychedelic paradise calls out to me. I reach the dancefloor just as Bayawaka starts up the music, followed by Ryanosaurus and Renegade. Static Flow takes charge as the sun is setting and I’m in my happy place for sure. The Commercial Hippies ravage the dancefloor at 21.30, playing their killer Lark remix. The crowd’s sent into overdrive.

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Regan is up next. And although I’m loving the vibe, I decide to make a mission towards the Beats Stage again to watch Secret Cinema in action. I marvel at the LED light projections in the oak treas. The visuals are amazing. I bid a silent thank you to The ExtraDimensional Space Agency.

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aumega artescape dancefloor origin at night
Photo: Aumega Photography.

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Mid-night draws near and it’s time for Brazilian Digoa to rock the Origin Floor. He’s incredible in the Dj box and his killer set has people talking throughout the event.

All of a sudden, it’s two in the morning and things are getting quite dark. So I take a stroll to see what kind of storm Spekta is cooking up. Moments pass before Pete Bones gets behind the decks and elevates things to a whole new dimension. I’m blown away by his smooth techno style. The atmosphere is friendly and ecstatic, and stompers are responding well to his tracks. But I’m feeling tired, so I jam until my feet give in and decide it’s time for some shut-eye.

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aumega origin party at night
Photo: Aumega Photography.

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I awake the next morning as Dala is finishing up. I hear his majestic tunes in the distance and shun myself for not being on the dancefloor. I grab breakfast on the way, fresh and ready for a Sunday session with Groove Addict.

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It’s a great morning workout, stomping in the sunshine. I almost lose track of time. But when 10.30 eventually rolls around, the excitement is indescribable as LOUD gets onto stage. The dynamic duo is greeted by the cheers of their die-hard fans. LOUD blasts beat after beat. And I am compelled as they play their new Afrika 101 track. I’m certain that this is bliss.

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Soon it’s Headroom‘s turn and HOT DAYUM, his beats are banging! Broken Toy doesn’t disappoint either. He gets behind the decks. spinning his epic Commercial Hippies “Dr. Rocket” remix for the first time, causing chaos on the dancefloor. Just when I think it can’t get any better, LOUD returns to end the party off on the highest of notes.

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I’m enjoying the experience so much, I don’t want it to end. When I finally do head home on Sunday evening, one thought resonates in my mind: “Origin, you know how to party!” Huge thanks to the organisers and everyone who made it happen.
See you all on the other side…

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aumega stompers happy origin
Photo: Aumega Photography.

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Get psyked: Origin Festival 2014

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There is only one week to go until Origin Festival returns. So get yourself ready for a weekend full of psychedelic music, art and culture. Only 125 km from Cape Town, the lush green Elanskloof venue is home to fresh mountain streams and a magnificent forest open to explore. If a backdrop of towering mountains entices you, Origin is a journey you should embark upon.

 
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Photo: Aumega Photography.

 
Party-goers can expect only the best selection of psychedelic music, incredible international acts and outstanding production. The ExtraDimensional Space Agency has come all the way from the UK to create an LED show unlike anything Cape Town has seen before. Origin admits that this is their biggest lighting installation yet. This is great news for the night-owls among us.

 
at night origin aumegaPhoto: Aumega Photography.

 
But the sunshine-loving stompers need not fret; Artescape will once again be bringing the festival to life in the Psychadelic Temple with top-class décor to aid an incredibly sensory experience on the dancefloor. And if the eye-candy Artescape created at Rezonance is any indication, we can expect nothing short of perfection.

 
jamming origin aumegaPhoto: Aumega Photography.

 
However important the visual elements are, the music remains the main attraction. Back-to-back acts from top-class Djs on not one, but two dancefloors ensures that there’s something for everyone, no matter what your taste is.

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On the Origin Floor, you can expect only the best psychedelic trance from groundbreaking international acts such as LOUD from Israel, Groove Addict from India, Ryanosaurus from Australia and DJ Digoa from Brazil. But let’s not forget our beloved locals Headroom, Broken Toy, The Commercial Hippies, Sad Paradise and Portal (to name a few) who will be bringing their beautiful beats into the mix.

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origin chillPhoto: Aumega Photography.

 
If you prefer something more laid-back, Origin’s Beats Stage is the place to be. Situated amongst the trees and right alongside the river and pool, it is there you can enjoy everything from funky techno to tech house to psybass and chillstep. Prepare your ears for the melodies of Secret Cinema from the Netherlands, and enjoy a special Origin session featuring Elrow from Spain in conjunction with Marc MayaToni Varga and De La Swing. One thing you can be sure of are the captivating tunes that will serenade the crowd all the way through.

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And to lure creative and contemplative souls, the Visionary Art Gallery will be open to marvel. Featuring acclaimed artists from South Africa and beyond, this is a fine opportunity to take a gander at authentic artistic talent, mid-party. The works of Aumega, Ed Babb, Oliver Barnett, Andriod Jones and Amanda Sage will be exhibited at the gallery.

There are only a few more days to go and quite frankly, we can’t wait.
Click here to buy your ticket online to avoid missing out.

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The DJ low-down.

Just to tantalise your taste-buds, here is the inside-scoop on one of the headlining acts for Origin 2014: LOUD.

Who are the brains behind such banging beats, you ask? Meet Israeli-born Kobi Toledano and Eitan Reiter. Together they’ve been producing original electronic music since 2006, blending old school elements with cutting-edge, new sounds. These guys don’t just adhere to formulas, they pave their musical way with originality and enthusiasm.

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Having collaborated with the likes of Union Jack, Hallucinogen, Son Kite, Astrix, Perfect Stranger, Shulman, Prometheus, Ace Ventura, Domestic and Shulman, LOUD has earned the respect of many lading musicians and producers.
When it comes to their beats, they share one simple philosophy: Play it LOUD!

Catch them live in the flesh at Origin this weekend. Find the lineup here.

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The following video is am 8-minute long documentary compiled by LOUD featuring a range of festivals they performed at during their summer tour in 2012, including Boom Festival and Ozora Festival.

 

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Listen to more on Soundcloud: LOUD.

 

See you at Origin!

 

 

Review: Rezonance NYE.

Rezonance is easily one of the most anticipated events on the psytrance calendar. With years of experience behind their name, the Rezonance family has gained huge momentum and continues to attract thousands of loyal party-goers from all over South Africa to celebrate the New Year.

Following the previous theme of Transformation, the festival focused itself on rebirth. With a very relevant call-to-action for the New Year: dream of a world where anything is possible. “I am because we are” was the resonating mantra and its essence trickled down to every element of production.

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Photo: Viwe Santana Hewu.

Rezonance decided to switch things up this year, kick-starting the party on New Years Eve. When I arrived at Contermanskloof in Durbanville, I was in for a big surprise! The out-of-this-universe decor had plenty of jaws dropping in delight. Artescape really went above and beyond to create the type of high-end production that could give Ozora festival a run for its money. We have a sneaky suspicion that the Rezonance pics will be taking over Facebook feeds for the next few weeks.

Rezonance ticked all the boxes, from groovy swing at Misfits Meadow to dirty dubstep at the Delta stage to full-on, psychedelic tunes at the main stage. And when you weren’t feeling the magic anymore, the Chill Temple was a perfect hangout for tired souls (or should I say soles).

chill temple guy with glasses rezonance

Photo: That Guy With Glasses.

The dam was also a Godsend in 34 degrees heat! During the day-time it remained occupied by happy people and inflatable lilos. Let’s not forget the random boat spotted floating about.

Of course, it was the Prizm stage that was the main attraction. When I set foot onto the dancefloor, I was sucked in by proggy beats from the likes of Portal, Humerous and Matron. Then Bernz, Take and Contra took over, leading us into the New Year.

I could literally feel the spirits lifting as the clock struck twelve. Frozen Ghost was the first of many killer DJs to rock 2014. I don’t think anyone expected things to get that messy, that mud was really something! If you were clean the next morning, you clearly did it wrong.

guy with glasses rez dj mark

Photo: That Guy With Glasses.

For those who couldn’t keep up with the 180 BPM tracks from the German Bombax or the banging basslines of Hysteria and Paralocks, the Misfits Meadow was an ideal spot to lay-back and enjoy the vibe. It was there that Hektek Elektrek and Wulfsohn kept the crowd jamming merrily into the early hours of morning.

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At some point, I dragged myself off to my tent for some much-needed sleep (not that I got any). I knew I had gotten more than I paid for, in terms of sound, because I could hear all three dancefloors bass resonating through our campsite at any given time.

guy with glasses decor rezonance

Photo: That Guy With Glasses.

I returned to the Prizm stage for Tune Raider’s must-jam morning set feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. As the sun got cooking, the beats got groovier with Headroom behind the decks, followed by Sad Paradise and my personal favourite, Mr Suit (the Israeli prog hero).

In the evening, I was blown away by Rosa Ventura.
Then equally gobsmacked by 
Deliriant’s midnight set. 

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rezonance festival dancefloor night

Photo: Aumega Photography

Time was flying by. When I awoke the next morning, I heard Talisman in the distance, delivering some delicious beats for breakfast. Although the sun was already baking, it didn’t dull any spirits. On the dancefloor, nobody was prepared to let a single track go to waste. I was more than grateful for the over-head sprinklers, as I was beginning to feel a little crispy.

guy with glasses happy guy stomper rezonance

Photo: That Guy With Glasses.

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Other highlights included Sonic Species, England’s psychedelic King and the always-amazing Broken ToyGandalf Grey rounded things off beautifully with a mix of one of my favourite tracks “WTF by D-Addiction.” 

Rezonance made no room for bad vibes, or shoes for that matter. I returned home with dirty feet, a happy heart and the tunes still ringing in my ears. A big thank-you to the organisers and party-goers for exceeding all my expectations. Best New Years ever!

guy with glasses muddy rezonance feet

Photo: That Guy With Glasses.

Review: Vortex Open Source

Editor’s note: This review covers Saturday – Monday.

We waited all year and finally it was time to enter the Circle of Dreams. Those who have attended any of the Vortex Open Souce parties know that it’s not “just another festival.”

magic by ty

Photo: Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Every year, Vortex draws people from all over the world to unite in a five-day celebration of music, spirit and culture. And if you ever dreamed of getting lost in an enchanted forest, that’s covered too.

daytime jam by ty

Photo: Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Riversonderend was, once again, the venue of choice. And when we arrived (after a long, squished but TOTALLY WORTH IT drive) to set foot in the woods, I was reminded why. What beauty!

It was as if the forest carried on forever. Not the easiest place to find your tent in the dark, though. Many a stray stomper wandered the forest in seek of refuge after a long day’s stomp. Often making friends along the way.

open source by ty

Photo: Tyrannosaurus Rex.

When we headed to the dancefloor, I took a second to appreciate the décor – HOLY SHIT. Pardon my French but it must be said. The Vortex crew really outdid themselves this year.

I love how organic lines and elements were used to create an other-wordly experience. The circular stage, for example, that encapsulated the DJ box made me feel as if I was staring into a majestic porthole. And boy, things came alive at night!

decor by gary

Photo: Gareth L-Olivier.

The evening started off with a booming bang! as Connecto took the stage, followed by Dave Mac. Oh, Mr Mac how the crowd loves you! Everyone went insane when Dave played his Side Form- Depeche mode remix.

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The vibe experienced on that dancefloor can only be described as electric. And when Kieron Grieve (AKA: Rubix Qube) got behind the decks, things got downright messy. If there’s one thing we know about Rubix it’s that he never disappoints.

night dancers by gary

Photo: Gareth L-Olivier. 

Another highlight of the event had to be the awesome projection of Nelson Mandela’s face that appeared behind the DJ box. What a great tribute to one of South African’s most heroic leaders.

nelson mandela vortex by wayne

Photo: Wayne’s Picz.

It was very difficult to leave the dancefloor, but I needed some rest for Sunday-funday.  Eventually, I dragged myself to my tent and managed to get a good night’s sleep.

I awoke bright and early for a delicious breakfast made up entirely of psychadelic goodness. Tim Duster brought the morning in, followed by Koxbox and the all-mighty Skragg.

dancefloor ty

Photo: Tyrannosaurus Rex.

I could barely contain myself when Earthling finally got onto the stage. His exuberant beats kept the party raging for three hours straight. And what an insane three hours it was! Time flies when you’re having fun, and judging from the grins that surrounded me time was racing for everybody.

stomper by ty

Photo: Tyrannosaurus Rex.

We were all feeling a little sun-kissed when the small overhead sprinklers turned on, creating a beautiful layer of mist to cool down the crowd.

shower by ty

Photo: Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Then Adam Metcalfe, the one and only Headroom, took over and sent everyone into overdrive.
This was all followed by a quick but much-needed swim in the river. Along its banks, people lazed happily, talking intimately with one another, laughing and embracing the magic.

headroom vortex by ty

Photo: Tyrannosaurus Rex.

At 6pm we returned to the dancefloor where Dean Fuel was winding the party up again with his Feedback set (really quite groovy).

After the sun went down, it was time for a little girl power. Rosa Ventura fired things up before the Russian Yana Kramich AKA: Z-Cat took over and kept the beats banging until the early hours of the morning.

z cat by ty

Photo: Tyrannosaurus Rex.

When the sun rised on Monday, it was clear that everyone was more withered than the days before. But the psychedelic/prog beats that were in store was a better kick than any cup of coffee. Not that I didn’t have one.

pretty girl wayne

Photo: Wayne’s Picz.

When I returned to the dancefloor, the energy was as upbeat as ever. I headed to the front just as local, psytrance virtuoso, Bruce, got behind the decks.

Waio and Creator were the last DJs on the line up. And though the “end” was nearing, it didn’t feel that way at all. The crowd went on stomping right until the final track finished.

hands by ty

Photo: Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Everyone had such a hard time wrapping things up that some of the crew got onto stage, joining in on the fun. Needless to say, things ended off on a high note. And nobody will forget hearing the most insane remix of Elanor Rigby by the Beatles.

“Ah, look at all the lonely people!”

vortex family by wayne

Photo: Wayne’s Picz.

This event reminded me of what Cape Town’s trance family is all about: love, acceptance and unity.

Big thank you’s go to Grant and his Vortex crew, the DJs and everyone else who made this event so spectacular. And let’s not forget, my amazing group of friends!

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Check out more photo’s of Vortex:

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*Special thanks to Nicci Esterhuizen, who recently joined the Psyked in the City team.