Reviewed: Moga Festival
The people at Moga Festival know that you need much more than just a bunch of solid headliners to stand out these days. To that end, this year they put on a fantastic mix of cultural and gastronomical activities as well as a world-class musical offering. Of course, a massive reason to visit this one, in particular, is the setting. It is in the stunning Essaouira in Morocco, which is so historic and steeped in magnificent ancient architecture that it’s been used numerous times as a backdrop for film and TV, most recently ‘Game of Thrones’.
It is a place of palm trees and gorgeous sunsets, beautiful sandy beaches and old stone buildings. The air is humid and the ground dusty and each evening there are the most breathtaking sunsets that cannot be ignored. The crowd are fashionable culture vultures from all over Europe, not just hardcore ravers. There are a few thousand in all, but the gathering feels intimate.
Away from the music, there is plenty to explore, from a local craft market selling various bits of local clothing and beautiful smelling Argan oils, to live Puma shoe customisations, which took place throughout the festival. All this helped to feed back into and involve the local communities, alongside quad riding, horse and camels excursions, kite surf clubs and more.
The music plays out on various stages, from the oasis-like Pool Stage to the olive tree-lined Garden Stage, on to afterparty spaces So Lounge Club and So Lounge Terrasse. It is open air perfection with great sound systems throughout, and plenty of stunning views to occupy your mind as your feet get down to the beats.
After a moving opening concert on Thursday evening featuring local musicians Issaoua Association of Essaouira, Friday is about Agoria’s sensuous techno and Seb Zito’s stripped back dub tech house, while on Saturday the main highlight is Guy Gerber. He layers rich melody on progressive beats by the pool, allowing us to soak in sound as well as the warming water. Minimal takes over later on with the cult and much loved Maher Daniel and then Gescu, while Sunday features colourful disco, weirdness from Acid Pauli and heavy tech from Bas Ibellini in So Lounge.
The stunning setting, and the blend of local and international acts, of electronic grooves and Gnawa musicians, are what sets this festival apart. You can absorb rich new sounds and soak in your favourite new acts, learning about world music while also enjoying some of your club-focused favourites. Add in the authentic local culture and you have an essential event.