Solaluna Party Report
Right then… where to start… I guess the beginning would be a good place ;o) We arrived at Alexandroupoli at 11pm on the 29/09 to find all the hotels full, and we couldn’t sleep on the beach because there was a thunder storm, so in the end we had to camp out under a shelter on the harbour. Needless to say we didn’t get much sleep, mainly because we seemed to have taken over a popular snogging spot… every 10 minutes a couple on a motor bike would roar up, take a look at the bunch of hippies squatting in their love-nest and then roar off again.
We got up early (not that we had much choice) to go to the ferry ticket office when it opened at 7am, because we had been warned that the boats got booked up very quickly. Unfortunately a lot of others had the same idea too, and when the doors opened there was a huge scrum to get in… funny how normally “shanti” people revert to “survival of the fittest” mode very quickly and easily in these situations ;o) After about an hour of intense, sweaty and claustrophobic queuing, Timo and I emerged from the office with our prize, to find there were now many more people, and very few tickets left.Our ferry, which was due to leave at 1, didn’t leave till about 3.30, after another mad scrum, this time to get on the ferry. So by this stage tempers in the group were fraying slightly, mainly due to the heat and lack of sleep; but, as the island drew closer our spirits lifted as we realised after nearly 36 hours of travelling and discomfort we were practically there… and even from a distance the island looked stunningly beautiful =o)
We had one more test when we got off the boat, as there were only 2 coaches for the several hundred people getting off the boat, but we all managed to make it onto one of them.We met the others and pitched our tents, had a smoke and went for a swim, which made us feel a lot better… at last it felt like we were on holiday :o) Unfortunately it seemed there was very little to smoke on the site, foreigners had been put off bringing any puff due to customs (there weren’t any ! doh!) and Greek prisons, and the Greeks because there had been rumours that there would be a large undercover cop presence (and Greek prisons ;). This caused panic in certain quarters, (namely myself and opul) so the quest for puff was begun in earnest, this took up the whole of the rest of the evening, and most of the next day too, but eventually we found what turned out to be almost the last of what was being sold… and pretty yummy it was too, dedication is what you need ;o))
The rest of the time leading up to kick-off was spent chilling on the beach, or in hammocks, and generally charging our batteries in readiness for the mayhem to come; so by the time 9pm came round we were all ready to go. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the organisation, the official start time of the festival was met with a resounding silence. Apparently some sort of processor for the sound system was fried, and the dimwits hadn’t bought a spare; so this was the reason we hadn’t noticed a soundcheck ;o) Luckily, this problem had been spotted quickly enough in order to get another one onto the island that night. So to pass the time some went to bed, and others sat on the beach, felt wobbly and watched the moon ping-ponging across the sky ;o) Also there was this weird object in the sky; it was about the size a large star, and it was colour-cycling furiously…blue, green, red, all 8 of us saw it (and a couple of us were even sober ;o), none of us could work out what it was, and it vanished as suddenly as it had appeared… did anyone else see this ?
Eventually, at around 2pm, the soundsystem rumbled into life (for the 2 hours before they had just been using the monitors !), and the party began properly. We got an hour or so of a Greek DJ (sorry can’t remember his name) who was decent, but the sound technicians were doing the tuning as they went along so I probably didn’t get the best impression of him. Then it was a hoffman breakfast and John Phantasm, who played a storming night time set, his mixing and track selection were excellent, and it provided a brilliant release for all the tension that built up during the quiet hours, and also set the standard for others to follow :o)
Which, unfortunately, the next DJ, Dominic Lamb, didn’t do, well, not in our opinion anyway. He played a really badly mixed, directionless set of wishy-washy tracks, that had no energy. Luckily by this time it was sunrise, and I was tripping hard, so there was enough to distract me other than the music, in fact it was almost a total sensory overload. The dancefloor was right next to the beach, you could actually lie in the sea and still hear the music as well as you would do, if you were in the middle of the dancefloor itself. The sun came up directly out to sea, and if you turned round you were confronted with a stunning mountain range, covered with forests and deep gorges. There was not much other decoration (no back-drops at all), but with this scenery they really weren’t needed, words truly cannot do it justice. To top it all off, the dancefloor was covered ankle deep in lavender, so when it was stomped on by thousands of hippies a really pleasant smell was released (pity it wasn’t there on the last day, when it was definitely needed more ;). This smell (and perhaps the infestation of insects that lived there and in people’s dreads 😉 attracted squadrons of enormous dragonflies which buzzed and dive bombed the dancefloor for the rest of the day, which was a sight in itself.
At this point we went back to our tent to get food (which was quite a mission) and other provisions, we were there a little while, when we heard the start of Hux Flux, so we quickly headed back again. He was excellent, he played a good mixture of released and unreleased stuff, and really had the dance floor rocking, and he looked like he was having the time of his life, which is always a plus IMO. Tob remarked to me at one point it looked like he was playing a manic game of pin ball, which it did, he then said “this is really cool”, at which point the music cut out and a very serious voice boomed out of the 45k soundsystem “there ain’t no question about that”… which was seriously cool in itself ;o))
After HuxFlux came Serge, it was getting hot by this point, and one of the drawbacks of the dancefloor location was that there was no shade at all, luckily though there was quite a strong breeze, and, of course one could always take dip in the sea to cool down. Serge was the best DJ at Boom last year for me, so I was really looking forward to his set. Although he wasn’t as good as he was then, (he didn’t put as much effort into his mixing as he usually does, it seemed), he played some excellent music, including a remix of Alien Project – Midnight Sun which rocked big time. After his set, Slinky Wizard started their live set; the first couple of tracks didn’t really grab us, so we decided to do the sensible thing and go back to our tents and rest up. About an hour later, I was lying in my hammock smoking a bifta, when I heard some really beautiful morning music coming from the main stage, but I could also hear the 2nd stage, which pissed me off, so I decided to wander back and check it out. Andrei came with me, and we got back to find Youth DJ-ing (it was supposed to be Gus Till, dunno what happened there). We didn’t have the energy to dance, so we sat in the only bit of shade at the side of the dancefloor and smoked, listened and chatted. Youth played some good morning tunes, including the Earth Orbit rmx by Logic Bomb, and his own Paranoid Sunglasses, but again the mixing was kinda disappointing. After an hour or so, sleep had to come, so we headed back off to the tent.
I slept till about 8, got up, got some food, had a couple of beers and a smoke. I couldn’t see myself pulling 3 all-nighters, so sacrifices had to be made, so I decided to go back to bed, and miss Dado and the Greek live act, Quantasia; but be up in time for Koxbox at 6.30am. I wish I hadn’t bothered. Frank E DJ’d an hour before their live set; I caught the last half hour of this, it was ok, but nothing special, in my book. Their live set was very disappointing, apart from the final 2 or 3 tracks; for the most part it was way too clubby with lots swirly, housey noises. Some people liked it, but not as many people seemed to be dancing as there had been.
After the live set Frank E took over for another couple of hours, so we decided to go and get some breakfast and catch Red Seal at Stage 2.
The low point of the festival came then; Timo had been feeling very unwell since he got to the island, and not being in comfort, or having food that he could actually eat, now became too much. They saw the doctor that was on-site, and he made a prescription for some antibiotics, but in order to get them (it was Sunday), and for the other reasons, he and Marita had to go back to the mainland. It was very sad to see them go, but they weren’t having any fun at all, and it proved to be the right decision.
It was at this time we heard Logic Bomb had started an hour early, but by the time we had said our good-byes and got down there, they had just finished. It didn’t bother me that much, because I had heard them in July at Senseblender, and I think the others soon forgot their disappointment because Dimitri from TIP started playing a stomping set, and we were all dancing like loons ;o) There was no breeze that day, and we were worried about getting too hot (it was over 30 degrees), but then the cavalry arrived, well, in this case it was the fire department, they drove their truck onto the dancefloor, and two firemen stood on the roof of the truck and gave everyone a good soaking, there was even quite a large rainbow because of it =o). It was much needed, and seemed to give the atmosphere a massive lift (not that there was anything wrong with it before, and they became a regular sight over the next few days; it worked a lot better than the sprinklers at Boom in keeping everyone cool, and the dust down. Bug was wearing some dark blue cotton trousers, which were quite new, and after she had been drenched a couple of times, the dye came out on her legs, turning them completely blue, so she had great fun running up to tripped-out people and asking them what they thought of her sun-tan; Tom.nl thought that she must be turning into a smurf ;o)))
Dimitri played for 3 hours, I didn’t recognise a lot of the music, but it was all excellent, and his mixing was by far the best of the festival up till that point. After him, Paul Taylor took over, he was also very good with both his mixing and track selection; by the end of it, most of us were flagging a little so we retreated to the shady spot to listen and dance from there. Jens and Julie bought along a huge watermelon, they had cut a hole in it, and poured in a whole bottle of Bacardi, it was absolutely delicious and goes very well with a bit of special K ;o)))
Stella Nuttela took over after Paul, and although it was good to see a woman up there, her track selection was a bit hard and dark for the time of day (4pm). She did play one really funny track with loads of police siren noises… does anyone know who made this ? We stayed for a while, and then decided it was time to go keta-swimming… which was feckin’ funny and very floaty =oD It was then time for bed, with the alarm set for 1.30 to wake us up in time for Etnica at 2am.
Which was about 2 hours too little sleep, but we made it out of bed anyway, only to have to wait another 2 hours for Etnica to start. Doh. I don’t remember much about the DJ before them, probably because I wasn’t awake properly, but they finally came on at 4am. I wasn’t expecting much, because I haven’t really like their last couple of albums, but they were much better than I thought they were going to be, according to our resident Etnica expert, Mr Opul, they didn’t play much he recognised, so that could be the reason why ;o) Matt also tried to phone Darin at this point (obviously we tried to tell him that this was an incredibly mean thing to do… not ;))), but unluckily for us, and luckily for Darin there was no connection ;o))
After Etnica, Dino Psaras started, but we went back to the tent for another hoffman breakfast, we chilled there for a while, but it sounded too good, so an hour or so later we were back. Dino played an excellent set, the music had a lot of energy, was very well mixed and he handled the transition from darkness to light brilliantly. Towards the end of his set a couple of tracks bordered on being cheesy, but they weren’t quite. He played the newest version of Sweet Dreams, which IMO is a massive improvement from the one with all the ‘orrible vocals that I heard at Boom last year. It was the most beautiful sunrise of the festival this morning, when the sun came over the horizon it was this huge, almost neon pink disk, and there were the most stunning, fluffy cloud formations, which were also turned pink by the sun. The peaks of the mountains were shrouded in the same clouds the whole day, which were constantly changing formation; the most surreal part, was that the strong breeze was again coming off the sea, but the clouds over the mountains were being blown in the opposite direction.
I thought that Max would have a hard job to follow, but happily I was proved wrong, in fact he not only followed it, but musically I would say it was much better; although his mixing was a little dodgy at times. Tristan came next with his live set, which again was excellent, and then he followed it up with unbelievably good, and well mixed DJ set, including a remix of “William”, the original “Athalon” and lots of other goodies. At one point I turned to Opul and told him that I had found a new god, to which I was told that I wasn’t the only one who believed in him ;o)))
Finally, at about 3pm, after many hours of dancing, a couple of funny little bits of paper, some horse tranquilliser and several soakings from the fire department, it was time for the Hallucinogenius himself. It was what we had all been waiting for, and he didn’t disappoint. He started with a new track (I think he played about 4 new tracks in all) which was good, with a really nice choppy vocal sample, we had brilliant remixes of demention, mill-loony-yum, the loin king, the pink floyd rmx and my own personal favourite Horrorgram. The other new tracks were excellent too, I can’t wait for his next full-on album on the strength of them. He played completely live for 1 and a half hours, so full respect to him. This, on top of all that had come before, nearly made my brain explode. The “Surprise” (except it wasn’t for us, because somehow I managed to find out the day we got there what the surprise was ;),Total Eclipse followed immediately after him, but I had to sit down in our usual shady spot to try and take it all in, smoke a bifta or 3, and try and anaesthetise the pain in my legs (which I managed to do successfully ;))) This time there was a watermelon full of vodka waiting for me, which helped ;o))
I don’t remember much about the first half of Total Eclipse, except for the fact it all sounded very good, but I managed to get up and dance for the 2nd half, which was, again, quite excellent, and they finished their set /me off with my favourite ever Total Eclipse track… Space Clinic, which by this stage, was exactly what I needed… or should that have been a Spaced Clinic ? ;o))
I was feeling distinctly wobbly at this stage, and had no energy left whatsoever for the last part of the surprise, which was James Monro, so at around 8pm, most of us staggered back towards the tent for some food, with huge grins plastered on our faces (along with about 3 days worth of dust 😉
There were a couple of bad points to the whole thing though; the first being the food, which was pretty dreadful on site, but we managed to make it to the local village for a decent meal a couple of times during our stay. By the time we left the dance area on the last day, they had already shut all the bars and the only food place inside the site, which pissed us off a fair bit. Also, the nearest bar was a good 10 minute round trip from the dance floor, which was fairly inconvenient, and it didn’t make much sense.
It would have been nice if they had kept to the schedule as well, because some us are big enough trainspotters to want to keep to it ourselves. And it would have been useful if there were more ferries (after all, as someone pointed out on the festie comment and suggestions board, it was on an island), a friend of mine who travelled all the way from Finland, had to wait till the 2nd day to get onto the island because all the ferries were full, which was a real shame.
But apart from that there was nothing to complain about that actually detracted from our enjoyment… it was a fine effort considering it was their first attempt at something this size (fnaar ;o), and the remoteness of the location.
Overall I had the time of my life, the setting was perfect, the sound system was a whole heap better than Boom last year, and the atmosphere started off good, and then built up to completely electric over the course of the 3 days, and the people were brilliant too.
Musically, it reaffirmed my faith; I had been getting bored of all the minimal pseudo-psychedelic/actual-techno plodding shite that I have heard so much of in Amsterdam, in fact it was boring me to the point I was beginning to wonder what the point was anymore. But there was nothing at all minimal or plodding about any of the music I heard on Samothraki. I can’t really comment on Stage 2, as the music was so good on the main stage, I never really spent any time there; although I did hear that I managed to sleep through a live sex show there on the Saturday night ;o)) I am already looking forward to next year… maybe if I start saving now I can go to Boom as well ;o)
Massive thanks to the organisers and Big Hugs to Marita and Timo, Jens and Julie, Tob and Tess, Andrei, Matt Opul, Sergei and Bella, Tom and Aisha, Sjoerd and Sanne, Bram, Goose, Andy, Erwin, Chris and Anna, Sluckie, Loula, Stephanos… and most of all, Bug… without you lot it wouldn’t have been half as much fun as it was =oD