Photo credit: Miluta Flueras
Romania. Home of in no particular order; Vlad The Impaler, fine wines, a tax on black magic (seriously look it up) and most notably – for us at least – stonkingly good electronic music. Yes, there’s no doubt about it musically Romania is a country on the up, with the country’s vibrant electronic scene having house and techno lovers the world over sitting up and starting to take notice for a number of years now.
2017 saw the fifth year of the country’s renowned Electric Castle. Held across 4 days in the remains of a Transylvanian castle – woooooo! [Ed. Grow up] -those who have religiously attend the festival each year since its inception think of it as a scaled down Exit, which as anyone who has ever been to the annual Serbian mega-fest can attest is still high praise indeed.
So having already conquered its homeland with its eclectic lineups, unique setting and dedicated crowd and wanting to make its mark on the international scene Data Transmission packed our bags and set off to get in on the action. Here are 4 things we learned whilst lolling around in Dracula’s hometown…
Photo credit: Vasile
Variety is the spice of life.
Yes, the old adage is true. Well, in this case, it is anyway. When an older mustachioed gentleman is trying to cajole you and your girlfriend into… well, we’ll just leave that there… God, some people are creepy… To get back to the point Electric Castle really does offer up something for everyone and whilst we’ll be the first to admit that we weren’t hugely excited to see all of the names on EC’s massive bill we ended up surprising ourselves with how much we enjoyed the performances of a number of artists we wouldn’t normally choose to see. Case in point: Franz Ferdinand. The Scottish alt-rockers might be somewhat removed from their chart topping heyday but we’ll happily admit we had a great time throwing ourselves about to their mid-noughties soundtrack of guitar driven hits.
With electronic music now completely dominating the sonic landscape we wouldn’t mind seeing a few fresh bands come to the fore, at the very least they make for a brilliant precursor to the bleep driven hedonism that accompanies the revelry reserved for the night’s smaller hours.
Photo credit: Adrian Varzam
Electric Castle is the first rain proof outdoor festival we’ve ever attended.
As Brits, there are two key things we look for when we go abroad – better weather and value for money. Romania – even in May’s broken post-Brexit Britain – largely offers both. Currently retaining its own currency, Romania and Electric Castle are both by western European standards as cheap as chips. Drinks on site still cost less than £2 each and local bars and restaurants offer visitors even more of a bargain. The weather, on the whole, is far more summery than the people of Blighty may be used to but glorious sunshine is by no means guaranteed.
Upon our arrival, much of the talk by local festival goers was of how the festival had been unlucky with the weather in the last couple of years and what precautions had been taken to make sure that this year’s gathering was a success whether or not we got to top up our vitamin D levels. Whilst unnecessary for the 2017 edition – we had one or two minor showers interrupt otherwise beautiful weather – we were nonetheless mightily impressed to see just how prepared EC were should rain have been forecast. Cleverly landscaped trails, undercover areas, secret forest stages – you name it they built it to make sure that the elements wouldn’t be spoiling the fun.
Photo credit: Vlad Cupsa
Electric Castle is genuinely 24 hours
Two of the biggest problems DT regularly encounters when attending festivals – particularly in the UK – are that they’re too quiet and that they shut too early. Electric Castle offers high quality 24 hour programming (this years line up included, Cassy, Dixon and Maceo Plex to name but a few) and its secluded location mean that you can party properly for as long as you want in a number of purpose built stages and arenas. In many ways – and you can make your own vampire joke here – Transylvanians seem to really come alive at night, with the already energetic crowd seemingly taking it up a notch each and every time the sun set.
So if a leafy forest locale is more your vibe at 4am than an industrially themed setting of carefully stacked shipping containers or phantasmagorically illuminated castle walls there’s always a venue on hand for you to create awesome memories in/carefully curated Instagram posts to make your friends at home jealous.
Photo credit: Pulka
Electric Castle showcased a number of local artists and we loved it.
It’s no secret that music and art make great bedfellows when combined right. Unfortunately, many festivals include installations, temporary galleries, and talks as somewhat of an afterthought, a necessary box to tick in order to appear progressive with the halfhearted end product then often serving as the most underwhelming aspect of an otherwise good event.
At Electric Castle, however, we’re pleased to report that this most certainly wasn’t the case with the numerous interactive aspects of a fully designated art space all managing to hit the mark as the area became one of our favourite hangouts. From blowing digital bubbles to creating multicoloured shadows and racing through a cellophane maze each piece added something different to the festival, showcasing local talent whilst retaining the festival’s unique sense of fun.