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The view from Far Out: Paradise City Festival 2019, Perk, Belgium

While entering at Paradise City Festival, the first thing we’re greeted by is the gates and tickets booths that have been constructed of recycled wood and pallets. Indeed, the festival remained faithful to its concept considering the delivery of 147,000 reusable cups, 10,000 portable ashtrays, and even the stages were made of recycled materials. As a result, the purpose was to be an eco-friendly and human-scale alternative to the gigantic Tomorrowland.

Yes, Paradise City festival put on the top of its priorities the environmental impact and over the years fine-tuned specific measures to make the festival as green as possible. As a matter of fact, the organisers succeeded, in addition to offering a solid party, the event completed its secondary aim of making festivalgoers more climate conscious with their green policy. 

Located aside the medieval castle of Ribaucourt in Perk, three days of electronic music pleased our ears with a notable line-up well-known bands and DJs. The venue hosted four stages, including one built on water, organised by German label Giegling. Now let’s see the best 5 acts.

The festival kicked off on Friday afternoon and the gig that draw most of my attention was Skatebård, playing immediately after a three-hour set of John Talabot via the “under my garage” wooden-made stage. The funny and surreal aspect of Skatebård is that the music and the character are pretty in contrast.

The Norwegian DJ, a tall and robust dude with a long beard, produces the unexpected Glam rock tunes as part of his set. Notwithstanding, I was completely surprised when the vinyl started to swirl, the Balearic finesse of the beats with snazzy melodies with a touch of electro vibes.

Next up was Saturday’s performance—held under Paradise City Live stage, of French band L’imperatrice—the best living evidence that disco music is not dead. The entire performance was dominated by funky disco grooves, and their latest album Matahari from 2018 is a good example of that.

The band masters how to hold the attention of the audience, especially on the modified version of ‘Agitations Tropicales’, in which the entire band used all their instruments. The band made the whole arena shake well at the last song and, at this point, the entire audience were up on their feet and dancing. A semi-electro tune, reminiscent of Daft Punk even, ensured that people could leave the room feeling satisfied. For those who have missed them, L’Impératrice will play again live in Belgium at Les Francofolies de Spa on 19 July 2019.

Saturday ended with breakdance pioneer Egyptian Lover, a moniker for Greg Broussard, who hit on his decks massive breaks and beats. It’s impossible to describe in detail all the all the colours and nuances the DJ delivered on stage, spanning from the everlasting ‘Planet Rock’ by Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force to his 80s hit ‘Freak-A-Holic’.

There were chants with phrases like “808” and “old school” at one point, he cradled his drum machine like an accordion. The best moment was when he launched a Dean Martin’s song he got inspired from ‘I Cry (Night after Night)’. Broussard, who was DJing, playing the 808, singing and rapping, clearly gave a lesson of skilful turntablism.

On the next day, another Norwegian DJ, Todd Terje, who we mainly know from his well-known hit “Inspector Norse”, was a pleasant surprise. During the 2-hour set hosted at the sunny Silo stage, he mixed in a reckless fashion electro, tech-house and nu disco tracks, ping-ponging effortlessly from straight beat tunes to breaks ones.

Todd Terje’s atmosphere was joyful and convivial. A pleasure to listen and watch. 

Notwithstanding many DJs are well-established artists, the best Paradise City festival act was uncontestably run by DJ Koze. The German DJ and producer, winner of the 2018 DJ award for best electronica, delivered a fantastic show and the audience attending on the dancefloor could witness this.

Under the same stage of Todd Terje, Stefan Kozalla (real name of Dj Koze) pleased all of us with microhouse and minimal techno tracks, mixing them with self-assuring cleverness and without limits.

The sophistication of the mixed tunes was such a soft sensation for the eardrum as if we would touch high fashion velvet.

Paradise City in Perk has been able to attract 21500 electronic music lovers in three days last weekend. Last year there were 18,000 and two years ago 12,500. At the Ribaucourt Castle in Perk, the festival celebrated their fifth birthday. This year the festival showcased 65 artists and because there were more DJs than live bands, it also had more of an open-air vibe than a real festival. 

Finally, the organisers announced their immense pride of the attendees as they left half a container of waste on three days, which is a big success if compared with other festivals of the same size. Furthermore, it also took only two hours to clean the entire campsite that hosted 1500 visitors.

Paradise City, the ecological little brother of Tomorrowland, was a well prepared and well-managed festival with a nice atmosphere and good music.

For those who don’t know the festival yet and who are fans of the combination of electronic music and care about minimising ecological footprint, see you next year.