Upon our arrival in Barcelona, we just knew we were going to leave Spain with a memorable experience. As autumn approaches our hometown of Oslo, a weekend with sun and techno outdoors felt like the proper way to end the summer season. In our feature with PARAL·LEL we caught up with Felix Beltran, co-founder and head of PR, who gave us the full explanation about their new festival concept. After meeting him in person, we were left with the impression that he and his crew created this festival out of pure passion for techno culture.
PARAL·LEL took place in the beautiful, mountainous surroundings of the Pyrenees, located about 80 miles north of Barcelona. As we boarded the shuttle bus in the busy city centre, our anticipation grew as the bus was full of eager ravers chatting about artists, the lineup and their relationship with techno in general. We didn’t know what to expect, but upon our arrival at the location we quickly got off the bus just to fill our lungs with the fresh, clean mountain air as we admired the scenic surroundings of the Spanish mountains. At this point, it all came together: we got a sense of the holistic festival experience that PARAL·LEL is all about.
Despite it being PARAL·LEL’s debut year, we got the impression that the crew behind the festival knew what they were doing. Everything from logistics, to the camping area and facilities was handled impeccably. One of their goals for hosting the festival was to ensure the comfort of the attendants and they clearly accomplished this goal with ease. When we were hit with a major rain storm, the entire day two program came to a halt. But even in the face of misfortune the crew managed to pull everything together later that evening. Being exposed to the elements in such a way just added to authenticity of the experience.
Unlike most festivals with multiple scenes and an overwhelming line-up, PARAL·LEL has an unconventional approach to the festival format. With only one stage and a set line-up, the experience you get is quite unique. A festival organized with this format is a statement; it communicates respect to the artists and their performances, which also contributes to creating a more relaxed vibe throughout the whole event. In the context of dancing to techno, being at PARAL·LEL was almost like a relaxed, slow-paced, rave marathon; but with perks like being able to cover your basic needs and share the atmosphere with an amazing gathering of “techno heads” and warm people. We met a few attendants that told us they would undoubtedly come back next year. We totally understand why.
The program for PARAL·LEL was structured in three parts; a prologue, a story and epilogue. Now, we won’t get into details about each and every performance, but we have to say that there was some room for improvement. After a great opening from Luigi Tozzi, the second performance in the prologue felt misplaced and a bit pretentious. However, this didn’t matter by the time SVRECA delivered a killer set as a perfect ending to the evening.
The story started beautifully with sets that set the perfect vibe for relaxing in the sun, sipping on a cool beverage and grooving away to ambient, droney techno. Between two or three o’clock, Mother Nature really got pissed for no good reason. We were hit by a serious storm with heavy rain, lightning and thunder. The mood changed from blissful to pre-apocalyptic as the eager audience realized that She wasn’t fooling around. Unfortunately, the weather was so overwhelming that the crew had to shut everything down for a few hours.
Monument 111 is a recording done by Canadian-based producer and label head Jamie McCue. Jamie runs the label Silent Season which has released EP’s and albums from artists like Shaded Explorer, Refracted and Segue.
The storm hit us so hard that we didn’t think they would manage to rescue the sound system or stage. At this point there was nothing else to do but to get back to the dry tent, get some rest and hope for the best. Around seven o’clock in the evening we heard some booming bass from the stage area. It was obvious that the crew managed to rescue the equipment as they were organizing sound checks. It was game on. Not even Mother Nature could break the almighty Funktion One. Speaking of the sound system, we really have to give credit to PARAL·LEL for evoking one of the best auditory sensations we have experienced in a long while. This shouldn’t turn into a discussion about whether F1 is better than other systems or not, and maybe we have a skewed opinion, but we don’t care.
After the sound checks Abdullah Rashim opened with one of his trademark sets. The scene area was covered with fog that eventually cleared up during his set. After a while we could see the stars while dancing to Rashim’s hypnotic performance. It was almost like taking part in some collective shamanistic ritual, an experience we will remember for some time to come. Due to the unfortunate event earlier the running order was altered slightly, but again we got our minds blown with stunning sets from both Shifted and Peter van Hoesen as an excellent ending to a great story. It was as though the storm never came.
Most great stories have great endings, and the line up for the epilogue was not a sidestep from this aphorism. Particularly the performance from Cio D’or and Natural/Electronic.System. Despite having a rough start, Cio D’or managed to unite with the crowd and create an atmosphere perfectly suited for PARAL·LEL’s final performance. The Italian duo Natural/Electronic.System ended the festival with the kind of set that gives you goosebumps. Bear in mind the last day of the festival was by far the hottest.
In summary we have to say that PARAL·LEL is a festival that should not be missed by any serious techno-lover. Being the first edition, everything seemed well-organized in terms of logistics, facilities, and sound system. The crew should however consider increasing the catering capacity in future. At a press conference led by Felix, we were presented with some numbers that indicated a surplus. Hopefully everything worked out well financially for the crew, so that they can continue organizing. We would say that PARAL·LEL is a manifestation of pure passion for techno, and we’ll surely be back next year.