We sample the biggest, most eclectic festival to hit the Balearic Islands

Last year, Magaluf police banned tourists from doing 64 things in the Brit-heavy resort town. ‘Defecating, urinating or spitting in public places’ are just some of the things the list prohibited, as well as ‘drink[ing] alcohol if it is going to lead to drunkenness’. Judging by the three days Clash spent on the strip, that last rule wasn’t so easy to enforce – as proven by the clusters of pink-skinned men vomiting into bins at 11am.

Mallorca Live, a relatively new festival to hit the island of Palma with its first year in 2016, is an oasis outside of the €1 pints and ‘Made in England, Destroyed In Magaluf’ T-shirts. A ten-minute walk from the town takes you to a disused waterpark with the Serra De Tramuntana mountain range providing a breathtaking backdrop to the festival. For such a small space, its three stages are sizeable with little sound bleed, meaning you can easily hop between them. Something that comes in handy when the two-dayer is programmed as eclectically as Mallorca Live, which slots huge international acts like Primal Scream next to homegrown Spanish talent like Gate 4.

Appropriately, it’s Catalonian reggaeton sensation Bad Gyal who draws the most rabid crowd we find at the festival – something that apparently comes as standard when she performs in her native country. Flanked by two dancers winding in sync with her cat-like moves, she commands the attention of the entire tent, slamming down banger after banger from her critically-acclaimed ‘Worldwide Angel’ mixtape.

Elsewhere, Spanish rapper Kase.O delivers a blistering set packed with social commentary about the gender pay gap and other issues, launching into a speech about Mallorcan rapper Josep Miquel Arenas Beltrán, who has been jailed for three and a half years after criticising the Spanish royal family. Mallorca's very own (and now defunct) Sexy Sadie are a band we're advised by the festival's director not to miss, although their passé '90s/'00s pop-rock sound is a not altogether pleasant blast from the past. 

Artists who’ve journeyed from further afield include the Black Lips, who warm up the event on Friday. As a group famed for their on-stage antics, we’re pleased to find them throwing rolls of toilet paper out into the crowd (only to have them thrown right back). Primal Scream are another hugely-received headline act, while The Prodigy keep the main stage alight with lazers and packed out during a rare downpour for the umbrella-less country.

Many festivals could take a leaf out of Mallorca Live’s for its unbeatable sound quality – we barely miss a beat from Henrik Schwarz’s fire-paced, motorised array of deep house weapons, and any fellow audiophiles/geeks should add this festival to their bucket list for that very reason. With both Nina Kraviz and Solomun also delivering remarkable after-hours sets (and with the festival, unbound by sound restrictions, continuing until 5am), its dance offerings stood up where many multi-genre festivals are likely to fail.

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Right before catching our flight home, we drop into a pool party at Melia Sol House hotel where Barcelona-hailing DJ Awwz is spinning a lively, feelgood selection of Lil Yachty, Fat Joe and her own tropically-dipped productions that get even the most hungover of crowds dancing on watermelon-shaped pool floats.

So could Magaluf be the next destination for music-lovers? It's a statement we never thought could ring true, yet judging by Mallorca Live’s enviable programming, slick organisation and mastery of sound, the isle might soon become known as a hub for something other than Love Island and English pubs. 

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To find out more about Mallorca Live, as well as their 2019 edition, head here.


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