Cape Town winters can be a somewhat temperamental mistress, so I was off to Europe for some summer salvation, with Switzerland being our first stop. After arriving in Zurich and spending a night seeing the city, we made our way to Alps the following morning. We had heard there was a bit of a psy gathering going on there, not just any psy gathering mind you, one of the biggest trance festivals this country has to offer. Hosting its first edition of what is sure to be a very successful tradition; One Love Festival was our destination.
We met up with some fellow South Africans and embarked upon our escape to the Mountains via train. We actually hadn’t agreed upon a place to meet and with our phones of very little use outside of a wifi area, we by chance caught the same train and found one another. With the universe intervening we all made it to the small town of Filisur together. Once off the train, we got the shuttle down to the festival, which was situated in a beautifully lush valley below the town. Light rains greeted us, but weren’t enough to rattle the excitement as we set up camp and began to find our bearings in these unfamiliar Swiss meadows.
The venue was a timber mill plant next to an ice like clear river. The smell of pine invigorated the senses as you walked across a wooden bridge away from the camping and toward the festival area. This was no quick stroll, but the restless river beside you and the many subtle rock formations created along the path kept your eye busy, not to the mention the absolute beauty with which you were surrounded in this majestic forest.
We grabbed our wrist bands, cruised through the market area and headed onto the circus tent dance floor for Si-Moon’s early evening set. Si-Moon is like a kid in a candy store when it comes to making music; anything he can think of he brings to life. Using energetic playful leads and electro fuelled breaks he produces unique progressive sounds clearly popular here in Switzerland. The tent-floor was to be home to the unofficial before party, as the main stage only opened the next day. It was now Thursday, 10 July, and the festival was to run until Sunday, 13 July. With plenty of time to get weird on the dance floor we headed back to the camping area to get prepared for the evening’s festivities. Walking back we began to notice the attention to detail and effort that had gone into creating the festival area, from lit up bridges, to chill stages with live art, to signs saying ‘welcome home one love’, nothing goes unappreciated by the like-minded individuals that attend these gatherings. Love breeds positivity and I had a particularly good feeling about this festival.
Once back at the tent-floor the night time party was full swing; the stage was looking like a glowing alien spider web as we settled in for an evening shakedown. Regular trips to the bar began, perhaps too regular for the first night. Quickly the ‘pace yourself’ mentality we usually adopt had gone flying straight out the nearest window, maybe it was the freedom we felt being somewhere new, or the fact that we had fellow saffas with us, whatever it was this an absolute banger of a first night. The beginning of a festival is always a special time, everyone is excited and that energy permeates around the festival grounds creating a vibrant mystical atmosphere.
We heard many sets on this first night, but none made more of an impression on me than Criminal Minds, these 3 guys were brilliant. A truly different live act that had me completely captivated, live vocal mcing and live guitar accompanied their riveting performance. As their set started we looked up to see three masked clown faces slowly building from a reggae melody to drop the deepest rolling bassline I’ve ever heard. The walls of this tent were dripping with psychedelica as bodies flew around like rag dolls. It was a proper first night apocalypse of sound which only allowed our weary bodies to crawl into bed at a silly hour.
The next day the festival tripled in size with many people coming for the weekend. We slept late and even once conscious took awhile to shake off the effects of the previous evening. I then heard the most ridiculous story from a friend, him and his girlfriend in the torrential early morning rains decided the tent was just a bridge too far and slept in between the wood piles of the timber mill. Is that normal? Today was however to a day of semi normality and wondering as the mainfloor was only opening late afternoon, this gave us plenty time to explode the quaint town of Filisur and stock up with Coop grocery goodness.
Once back at the festival we prepared some food and got ready for the quickly approaching evening. Feeling surprisingly spritely once more we headed into the festival area to see how things were shaping up on the mainfloor. We marveled at the glowing plant like orbs which hung above us as Sokrates dropped his verse track with Dapanji called You Know the Sound. The dance floor spanned a big area and had an incredible focal point on stage of a hydraulic flower which seemed to pulsate to the night time rhythms. Sokrates equipped with electronic power and an energetic tempo continued his live set featuring tracks like Fractal – Avare (Sokrates Remix), and my personal favourite Once Upon a Time; with a wicked little western theme.
As I glanced behind me I began to see people gathering toward the river, with my curious peaked we went to investigate. We found a massive burning heart structure flaming on the other side of the river, this spectral was only to be topped by the fireworks show which followed. Choreographed, well executed and magnificent to behold this illumination of the night’s sky was something truly special to witness.
As our attention shifted back toward the music the legendary Talamasca was now playing his signature brand of full on old school bangers. His set undoubtedly included the ever popular Talamasca vs. XSI ft. Lucid – Nightmare, an absolute classic with its very catchy hook. Anestetic, the Timecode wizard then took over next dropping some D Maniac, most notably the track Hardcore, with incredibly vibrant leads which both captivate the ear and move the feet simultaneously. There was a large fire created between the dancefloor and stall area where we then sat down to take a breather. This period of rest bite soon allowed the previous nights fatigue to catch up with us and without further ado it was off to bed once more.
Waking up on Saturday the energy tanks were replenished. After an ice cold shower, which one of the organisers Simon said ‘makes you stronger’, I was feeling pretty strong. The sun was out and we were feeling fresh. We devoured a pizza and cruised back to the dancefloor to spread our wings in the day’s spender. The energy in the festival area was high; the beer flowed constantly as Funk Truck provided us with the perfect introductory sequence of phat crunchy delicious baselines. A highlight of the Israeli duo’s set was their live remix of Empire of the Sun – We Are the People, the earth shook as their thick baselines rang out accompanied by the vocals ‘we are the people who rule the world’. The rest of the day featured other quality acts such as Hanzo, Mama Gaia and personal favourite of mine Feeding Spring.
Just as we were leaving the dance floor, the track Feeding Spring – It’s Time came on and we lost it like it was nobody’s business for one last time. Clouds had pulled in and the weather was beginning to turn. The music soon after went off for a short break while headed back to the tent to have dinner on what would land up being an early evening for us. Tired feet and satisfied stomachs meant comfort and rest were on the menu for the foreseeable future, well till tomorrow that is, for then we would do it all over again.
Fast forward to Sunday funday; and after an almost routine shower, breakfast seshy it was back to the madness one more. There’s nothing like the last day of a festival, spirits are usually indescribably high and the dance floor seems to come together and connect like no other time. Whether it’s the cosmos aligning or the fact that we know it’s our last dance together as one tribe, you can feel the enthusiasm around. It becomes a part of you, much in the same way as you are a part of everyone else, the very essence of unity which acts as the basis of upon which this festival in particular is founded.
The weather was playing its part too blessing us with sunlight to accompany the filthy beats on offer for the day. The Greek act Krama was on as we arrived back at the dance floor, followed by heavyweight beatologist and the act I was most looking forward to, Hatikwa. The master of the progressive forest sound Hatikwa made me move my body in ways I didn’t know possible. Technically perfect production, percussion which must be from the gods, and unbelievably eerie atmospheres made this live set one of the most interesting hours of my life. What an act to follow; an unenviable task for some, but not Swiss duo The Audiofisters, as they were relishing it. Laying down progressive bangers such as Wild Motherfuckers – Wild Wild West (Groovaholik & Mandragora Remix) and Groove Inspektorz – TNT Remix, they blow me and a few thousand other beat hungry monkeys away.
Astoundingly the man up next probably played the set of the festival for me, Tezla. He brought an unparalleled energy to an already excited crowd. The beats were moreish and our bodies almost airborne at this point, the last day was definitely providing to be a spectacular close to the festival. Urban Tribe would play the final set as we wondered backstage to get a better glimpse of the crowd united till the last echo of psychedelia rang out. The organisers then spoke and thanked the attendees for their support. An emotional moment of pure joy for both festival goers and organisers alike as the crowd cheered in appreciation.
That was it, the main stage was closed. We grabbed some dinner and returned to our tent for the evening. The next day we awoke to pack our things and set off to spend sometime in the town of Filisur. As we walked up the hill away from the festival grounds we reminisced and truly felt that we had been a part of something magical in these mountains. A huge thanks to Simon and the rest of the One Love crew for having us. We hope to be back in the future to do it all again with you!
Words by Troy Evason