Live Report: KappaFutur Festival 2019
An inner-city festival in a striking industrial setting, KappaFutur Festival is the perfect destination for those looking to combine a long weekend in Europe with world-class dance music.
Around three hours’ flight time from the UK, Turin is perhaps one of Italy’s lesser-known travel destinations, but its industrial history makes the northern city and capital of the Piedmont region a fitting home to the techno-focused KappaFutur Festival. Though not exactly synonymous with techno in the way that Detroit is, Turin’s own links to the auto industry have seen it evolve from post-industrial city to flourishing arts and culture hub.
The event is held at the iconic Parco Dora, a former site of the Fiat and Michelin factories and now a giant urban park. This was the eighth edition of KappaFutur Festival and the biggest one yet. More than 50,000 punters from over 100 nations poured into Parco Dora’s grounds over the festival’s two days.
It was a fiercely hot weekend and on the Sunday afternoon the temperature peaked at 34 degrees, but there were plenty of areas to find respite from the heat. Sprinkler systems were dotted about the site, to the delight of thousands of revellers cooling off in the mist and taking a break from the sprawling programme, which featured a well-curated mix of techno legends and up-and-coming talent.
The event was spread across four stages, each (apart from the obviously-titled Dora stage) named after their respective sponsors: Spanish card-makers Seat, Jägermeister, and the energy drink Burn. The sound quality was excellent throughout the duration of the festival, with the cross-stage sound bleed minimal despite the stages being relatively close together.
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For the techno purists in the crowd, there was plenty to celebrate. Carl Cox and Derrick May each closed out their respective stages on the first day to huge crowds. The new guard of techno was also well-represented earlier on, as the sun sank behind the imposing 30metre tall red steel columns of the festival site’s central space.
Amelie Lens put in a thumping two-hour show, heavily reliant on her trademark hi-hat hiss, on the Seat Stage. Surprisingly, DJ Nobu’s mid-afternoon slot on the same stage earlier that day was a more sparsely attended affair.
Perhaps it was the relentless pace coupled with the oppressive Italian sunshine, but the Japanese techno export struggled to hold the attention of the audience, a large chunk of whom slipped away to catch the ebullient Boys Noize on the larger (and more shaded) Jager Stage.
Amelie Lens fans were in for an unexpected treat on Sunday, as the Belgian DJ stepped up to fill the gap left by Peggy Gou, who was a last minute no-show due to illness.
The Sunday programme was a more diverse musical offering, with techno heavyweights such as Richie Hawtin and Nina Kraviz offset by more eclectic selectors along the lines of San Proper, the ever-entertaining Ricardo Villalobos and charismatic Scottish party-starter Denis Sulta. The latter in particular proved hugely popular on the smaller, tree-flanked Dora stage, as his good-time selection of disco-leaning jams revved up the UK contingent of the festival.
Every festival has a crowd favourite and Nina Kraviz’s performance was exactly that. The Russian DJ was on electrifying form and managed to craft a mesmerising, commanding journey despite only having an hour and a half in the booth.
Perched high above the sea of dancers at the Jager Stage, red and purple LED lights flashed as frequent cheers from the audience rose up. Her choice of Cloud’s ‘Chained To A Dead Camel’, at about the half-way point of her set, drove the already-heaving crowd up another notch and paved the way for Kraviz to venture into acid and trance territory towards the tail-end of her performance.
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Amidst the techno of all shapes and sizes there was also plenty of opportunity to seek out welcome points of difference. Saturday night’s highlight was the pairing of Gerd Janson and Prins Thomas.
Their fantastically fun back-to-back on the more chilled-out Dora stage mined everything from Debbie Jacob’s disco classic ‘Don’t You Want My Love’ to Four Tet’s recent Nelly Furtado-sampling floor-filler ‘Only Human’ and Soulwax’s bumping rework of Marie Davidson’s ‘Work It’. When the unmistakable opening strains of Starlight’s ‘Music Sounds Better With You’ rang out as the closing song, the elated crowd went beserk, forging a true moment of proper sing-along euphoria.
Haai also won a legion of new fans in under two hours on the same stage that day with a boisterous and genre-defying set. Decked out in her trademark bright colours, her vibrant sartorial choices reflected her individuality in the booth, with a performance that varied in tempo but never wavered in energy or ability to move the more-than-willing, sweaty bodies on the dancefloor.
The festival’s main drawback was these short set times - the majority of the artists played for no longer than two hours. With 44 artists from around the globe crammed into two 12 hour days, many of the performances felt like tasters to the main course; delicious, but not completely satisfying.
That said, if you’re going to journey to Europe for a weekend break, KappaFutur allows you to dance your cares away in a memorable location to some of most popular DJs of the moment. In 48 hours you can come away with a suntan, a belly full of delicious Italian food, and your ears ringing to the sound of as many DJs as you can fill your timetable with.
If you’re craving a quick slice of la dolce vita, KappaFutur is for you.
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Words: Claire Francis
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