Photo Gallery And Review: Sunwaves 19
Having skipped most of the opening night to prepare for the long weekend that lay ahead, the festival really kickstarted on the Friday evening on Stage B. Up first was Cristi Cons, one of the latest members of the Romanian scene to really make an impression outside of it—the reasons for which became increasingly apparent during his stint inside the booth. He was followed by Zip who then subsequently made way for Ricardo Villalobos as the sun rose. Seeing these two Perlon stalwarts play is likely to be something of a highlight for any event—but there is a certain aura surrounding Sunwaves that encourages artists to push beyond their normal boundaries, and the duo’s back-to-back through Friday mid-morning was perfect evidence of this. Despite a few minor technical glitches, and Ricardo only really being fully focused for the first half of his set, the atmosphere of the room encapsulated everything that makes this event so special.
Friday melted into Saturday, and then came the turn of Ar:pi:ar—namely Raresh, Rhadooand Petre Inspirescu (affectionately known as Pedro)—to take the headline evening slot after a steady opener from local favorite Dan Andrei. It’s not so often that the trio are given such an extended period of time to delve through their record bags—and their set grooved through several genres of electronic music, well beyond the "loopy" sound for which they have become some famed. Although they never really matched the moments of euphoria of the previous evening, they were far more consistent in their delivery than the celebrated Chilean. Meanwhile, in the other main room, was Marco Carola, winding up for another session with his posse having already overrun the backstage area.
With Ar:pi:ar finishing up and the sun having now fully risen, it was time to head outside to stage C, the red and yellow handmade wooden tent that offers the DJ a tunnel view of the sea. Always bursting at the seams, the stage is in definite need for an extension—or the simple addition of some outside speakers to allow revellers to enjoy the music without having to cram in. That being said, this space has become such an integral and iconic part of the festival that it’s difficult to imagine anything different. Spending the afternoon there made me wonder why I’d spent the majority of my time frequenting the night events; the mood down by the sea is much more relaxed, made all the more enjoyable with the likes ofTopper and Alexandra behind the decks. Dewalta and SIT (Cristi Cons and Vlad Caia) had apparently also been brilliant, but such is the nature and consistency of the festival that it is impossible to see every performance. It was around this time that Tini and Bill Patrick were starting, more on which is to come later.
Not everything about Sunwaves is perfect. We haven’t even touched on Mamaia, a strange seaside resort similar to those which line the Costa del Sol’s sea front. Neither have I mentioned the degree of bar hopping needed to acquire beer towards the latter stages of the party. Additionally, the over presence of brands—including a giant Kent cigarette area at the main entrance—gave the festival an unexpected corporate feel more in line with larger commercial festivals. Food was also at a premium, with one (albeit extraordinarily slow) bar serving delicious smoothies and soups.
All that being said, these moments of frustration add to the all round experience. Sunwaves perfectly embodies the spirit of what festivals should be about: a fun-loving and open minded crowd gathering to celebrate the music that they love in an environment specifically tailored towards it. For some, seeing Romania’s top DJs hour after hour may sound dull—but the lineup, atmosphere, and pristine sound quality make Sunwaves an unmissable event for those enchanted by the offerings of this unique scene. This was my first Sunwaves, and like most of the people I met there, I have no intention of making it my last.