Zone Fest @ Prishtina, Kosova 03 – 04. 06.
So, I came to Prishtina on Thursday evening and straight from the bus station I went to see the venue where Zone Fest is going to be held. It was the outdoor location of Zone Club, which I have visited for Ricardo Villalobos party in February. The idea of the festival was a 48 hours of non-stop paryl, with three different stage changes, first in big yard of the Zone Club, second indoor of the Zone Club and third, one small area outside one of the walls of Zone Club. For my opinion that was very brave, because there are not a lot of venues that you can pull up 48 hours of non-stop party whit people non-stop in it.
There are just some of the days when everything is going upside down…But if it is a matter of business, you really can be in hell… Sunny Friday came and we all thought that the rain missed us, but then there were some heavy showers which luckily stopped soon. In one moment festival’s booking agent, man from Eastern European Music Management (EEMM), who is long time in the business and books lot of top DJs for whole Balkan, so, he receives an email with Digweed’s cancelation for that night because of some really serious family matter. He told me that Digweed usually never cancels, so for sure, there was something serious in question, and you know, it happens sometimes, cancelations are also a part of the business. Shortly after that, booking agent receives another mail in which says that there was some delay with first Steve Lawler’s flight so he will miss the connection and the problem is that after that connection there are no more possibilities for him to make it to the party. That was a point when hell started. After a short discussion, organizers of the festival have decided to higher the jet and resolve the situation like that, but there was another complication regarding that matter of jet’s permit to land on Prishtina’s airport. After, literally 50 phone calls the solution was found, jet will land in Skopje and Steve would be driven with a car to Prishtina which was just 100 km distanced. At that point, in all that mess, “mister” Lawler says that he is very tired and he wants to rest, on which EEMM booking agent positively replays with an option that he could go to sleep and catch the morning flight, comes and play 2 hours on the Zone Fest afterparty and next catch the flight for the next gig as he supposed to. To be honest, that was really a great deal, he could sleep for whole night and catch up everything, which was not exhausting at all. I mean, he chose to be a DJ and it is not a job from 9 to 5 and with and every day same timetable… So Steve on all that just said no, that was not a part of a deal. Sooo…I really cannot explain the lever of heavy madness, when two of three foreign artist canceled…Worst thing was the timing when everything had happened, festival is starting…Whole event was in stake. Soon Magda landed on Prishtina’s airport and when she heard about the whole situation, she just said, don’t worry I will replace all the acts and play 6 – 7 hours. Just to bold things out, that was her first time to work with this agent also her first time in Kosovo, not knowing the crowd and it is not a small thing, to play that long set…She really stood out like a queen. I will just say, look at the differences between her and Steve and see who is who as a person inside. I wanted to write all of this so the people, before judging, could know what was going on behind the curtains and also for some of maybe next events, you really have no idea what is going on in the back and how much is maybe 1 or maybe 10 persons trying to do their best and resolve some situations.
We came to the Zone Fest around 2AM and while her tour manager Collins, who by the way is a really great guy, went to DJ booth to prepare the equipment, us two went for a drink and just after two sips, Magda said let’s go to the stage, she was visibly exited. We went up and she started to play. Magda is a Detroit child who on the beginning of career came to Minus crew and had gigs as an opening act for Richie Hawtin on his tours. From then until today she stayed loyal to her minimal techno sound. She made a really big progress in these period and one of the proofs, is midi controller that she, herself designed, which is made in only few, limited edition examples. So, Magda plays on Traktor with 4 channels, her midi controller and mixer. Her style can be quite flat and it is not for every ear, just for those which have a width for minimal music but Kosovo ravers perfectly connected with her. No matter that she was the only foreign DJ who came from that nights lineup, clubbers stayed for whole time that she had played on the night stage of Zone Fest.
At 6AM, when began to dawn, it was decided to move the party inside the club and Magda was on the same level of excitement as earlier when she started her set. On the way to the club, she was talking to people, taking pictures and from all of that also, it was more than obvious that she is a really, really cool and nice person. We all liked the change of moving into the darkness of the club where Magda had continued her set which was adjusted to the new space. Her sound got a bit wormer, more clubbiest sound, which I really liked. Around 8AM, her performance came to an end but the party was continued with another change of the location, on the small outdoor stage where local DJs continued the party.
All the impressions were highly positive, of course the organizers were overwhelmed because Magda saved the day and also from her side there was explosion of positive impressions, she even at the end told me , that this gig is on her top of the list of this year’s gigs.
Just to bold out, music was going on non-stop, with that small but very significant changing of the spots and as I have heard there was always people present on the dance floor, which is really though to accomplish. I have slept all through the day and woke up for dinner.
With all that, last night’s cancellations, you could feel the tension in the air, what will happen today, but everything went smoothly and all the acts came on time.
During the dinner I have met all the guys, Guti, Matthias Tanzmann and Preimesku trio, who were really very cool, so as the atmosphere was telling I was sure that this is going to be one happy night.
As we came to Zone Fest, Guti went straight to the stage, connected his equipment and began his live performance. He is a guy with positive energy which he passes to the crowd through his performance and music. I will try to describe the music, it is mostly house but that kind of super cool clubby sound with lots of rhythm but without any commercial tone. On video that I shoot , sound is not very good so you can’t feel the full vibe and atmosphere and that is why I really want to highlight how good was his performance. You can see on him that he is a true clubber also, after his live act he was hanging out and talked to lot of people and during his live act he dances and communicate with the crowd all the time. You can hear him on 13th of August in Barutana in Belgrade and I really suggest to all of you that can come, not to miss this one, I bet that you are going to dance to really quality sound and music. The part that he comes from Desolate crew, also tells a lot.
During Guti’s performance Premisescu crew was setting up their equipment because they have it a lot. To be honest, before this gig I haven’t heard about them but I have read their biography in which I saw that they are coming from Romania which automatically meant that they, for sure have a good sound and another very interesting thing which singled them out was that they stayed faithful to the analog sound. On their live performance they use special consoles made from a different parts of various machines, which are all hand made. All those machines looked very seriously and taking a lot of space in the DJ booth. During two hours of their performance, we have heard a really quality sound which was musically in a genre of house and techno. Crowd reacted great, for the whole time the atmosphere was super ositive on both sides, dance floor and the stage.
Somewhere near the end of Premiesku live performance it started to dawn and the production have decided that the next act, Matthias Thanzmann is better to start right away in the other stage, indoor of Zone Club, so they do the switch. It was definitely the right decision. Tanzmann is one of those old school names that you feel like, you know about them forever and I knew that his music style is good deep and tech house. But.. After this show, he is mine and not just mine, absolute surprise and festival’s highlight. For sure in my top 7 DJ list that I could listen whenever. No matter that he stayed at the hotel during the night and came to the venue just before his gig, he totally figure out the vibe, got into the crowd and made fireworks. His set was so interesting, for whole time with a good rhythm and almost in every moment he was surprising with the tracks that he was choosing and also with his style of mixing.
Matthias Tanzmann had finished his set around 9AM and the afterparty was moved to outdoor small stage as the previous morning, where it continued until I really don’t know when, because I left for Belgrade around 1PM and the party was still going on. I have to say, way a go, for Kosovo clubbers, they really can party until the infinite.