Review: Into the Valley 2016

Last weekend we had the pleasure to visit one of the upcoming Swedish underground electronic music festivals, the second edition of the Into the Valley, taking place in the wonderful green middle of Scandinavia, three hours in the north-west of Stockholm. Its main stage being an amphitheatre within an impressive old limestone quarry in midst of idyllic green woods, plus the impressive line up are symbolic for the fact that it has all it needs to become a new melting pot for the upfront of the international electronic music scene in the otherwise rather unpopulated Swedish landscape of electronic festivals.

Into the Valley (ITV) has already in its second year managed to attract at least half of its visitors from the international public. People came from the U.K., France, Germany or Spain – we even have met some who flew over from Australia or the States. Even though ITV only started in 2015, the festival seems to have turned into an internationally recognizable event.

We are going to share with you our impressions from day one to day three of the festival and finish the post with a list of the top hits that we experienced during the weekend and some misses that we think might need to be reconsidered in order that Into the Valley can establish as a top European festival in this scene.

 

Day 1.

 

We started our trip in the South of Sweden, Malmö City. The Ride was quite long, around 10 hours, but fortunately we had a great company in the car and with interesting chats and great tunes the time went by pretty smooth. The only sad thing is that we couldn’t make it to see the opening of Mr.Tophat and Art Alfie, two upcoming Swedish talents, and we also missed the infamous Motor City Drum Ensemble, whose set (from what we heard) was mindblowing. After we managed to set up our tents on the camping site we were finally able to warm up and enjoy the set of Mano Le Tough at the Temple Stage. We were really surprised about the sound quality of the second biggest stage (The Temple). The Funktion Ones were working at full capacity and some extra speakers increased the bass sound, yet in a level that didn’t hurt at all, it was just good quality sound. Mano gave us a pretty delightful mix with some melodic, dreamy and dark tunes that made us start the festival in a great way. After Mano’s set, Damian Lazarus took over the stage with some tech house. With respect to our personal music taste, we didn’t really enjoy his tunes. He played mainly a show of easy tracks with up and downs to get the crowd in a festival mood. After a couple of tunes we opportunely left to the second opened stage that night, The Pyramid tent, to enjoy the performance ofFred P. This was a great decision – the man was delivering super good vibes all over the place and the crowd was awesome. When we arrived he was dropping some 90’s latin house that made us dance until we sweat, and he kept the 90’s vibes with some funky house classics until he closed his set with some pretty mental dub techno. This was a really nice way to finish our first night and so we got back quick to get some sleep and new energy.

 

Day 2.

 

On Friday morning we woke up around midday, and in the vain search of some functioning showers at the camping site we heard of a nearby lake where you could hang and have a natural shower (with biological soap, of course) in order to start the second festival day freshly. We found the beautiful and perfectly tempered lake at a 10 min walk from the second camp area, where about 50 people were having the same idea as us and chilled in the warming sun after the much-desired bath. On the way back we even picked some wild raspberries and were pretty amazed by this natural beauty.

Around 5 PM we headed to the festival ground in order to get a good spot at the Young Marco set in the Pyramid stage, and meanwhile we waited for him to start we got some delicious handmade coffee and energetic juices (however for quite decent prices) from the extensive fancy offer of food and drink-trucks. Young Marco delivered, as we expected, an eclectic and very danceable mix of up-beat house, boogie and disco African rarities and even some jazz and soul tunes. He was followed by the great Move D who heated up the tent with his disco,house and acid mix and made the crowd dance like there was no tomorrow. This beginning of the second night stands in stark contrast to the mostly minimal and techno artists that perfromed at the main stage, the amphitheatre. There you could find some of the big names of the techno mainstream, but we were more interested in the secondary stages with more alternative and less monotonous sets.

So we experienced the impressive Black Madonna with her unbelievably inflaming tunes going back and forth between disco, house or even techno. From there we headed over to the Hanging Garden stage to see the already legendary Prins Thomas with his pure nu-disco tunes, feeling his influence by African sounds or classic disco, too.

As we wanted to experience the feeling at the impressive main stage, we listened to a part of the Ricardo Villalobos set in a b2b with his old collaborator Zip. Their mental beats going from breakbeat techno to rude minimal left us rather unimpressed, feeling that those minimal tunes have already passed their musical zenith. The visuals were however quite impressive, especially looked upon from the upper seats of the arena.

All in all, we had a blast and would definitely vote for the Black Madonna as the highlight of Friday night. One thing we are sad about is that we missed Roman Flügel, who for sure delivered an amazing set, known for his dreamy house, acid and techno beats.

Day 3.

 

We woke up pretty tired after the big Friday night, but also with a big smile of all the fun we had. One of our highlights of the festival, Jamie Principle, was performing live at 4 PM (for all the ones who don’t know him, he’s one of the founding father of Chicago house music and the producer, together with Frankie Knuckles, of the beloved track “Your Love ” along with many other gems that helped to define the genre). That meant we didn’t have much time to hang on the camping site but that didn’t matter because we were pretty excited to enjoy this guy. And he indeed didn’t disappoint us at all making us feel like being back to the roots of Chicago House. He sang to all the classics that he had made with Frankie, like “Baby Wants to Ride,” “Cold World ” or “Waiting on My Angel”, and we just felt goosebumps and happiness to got the chance to enjoy this raw and sensual house.

After that, we had planned to catch the live act of Four Tet on the main stage, but at the end he only played a regular Dj set, however it was still is a beautiful thing to see. He started with some jazz to later get more funky and deep. The last track we heard was the awesome Akujaja “Benga Benga” that made us keep up the great vibes. Anyway, we couldn’t stay until the end of Four Tet because we had settled an interview with the above mentioned Jamie Principle. It was an amazing experience and for sure one of our highlights of the festival, but we will talk about that in an upcoming post.

After so, we were so full of emotions and good vibes that we even thought of resting a bit on the camping site to come back to earth, but instead we went to The Temple stage to enjoy the great Studio Barnhus representative Axel Boman with his unique blend of whatever he wants to play. We also tried The Pyramid to hear the local artist Dorisburg performing a live act. He did a really nice job, with a devoted audience enjoying his performance which consisted of a drum machine, sample pads and a pair of drumsticks, resulting in a dark and melodic dreamy performance.

We caught some rave tunes and acid classic from Ellen Allien, but actually felt like it was time to rest. Here comes one of our complaints about the festival: we tried to find a nice spot to relax, but that was quite difficult because in every part of the limestone quarry you heard the music coming from the different stages. An isolated place or a place with some chill vibes to relax your ears was much appreciated. Anyways, we were back on track for some hypnotic vibes from John Talabot and the last part of the Bicep set, great classic house and rave tunes with a sophisticated touch. When they dropped their track “Just”, the stage came down, especially the British audience.

At this moment, we were pretty tired but we pushed ourselves hard to keep on going because the last two acts that were about to come looked pretty epic. The unpredictable Hunee and Omar-S, all the way closing The Temple. Hunee was just amazing, going from rare disco to soul to classic house to acid to all in between and mixing with exquisite skills. It would already have been a perfect ending to the festival, but instead we got Omar-S on The Temple. It was our first time watching him live, and our expectations were more than met. He just demonstrated why he is one of the top figures on the underground Detroit scene. He played many tracks from his last album “The Best!”, but also some from his other Lp’s as the “Thank you for Letting be myself”, being its homonymous track one of the highlights of his set. But not only that, he went from gospel samples to disco to raw house in a special way that made us float in bless during the whole time of his performance. When he closed we were that tired that we would have paid for a tele transport to bed, but finally we ended with some lovely people that we met there chilling and enjoying a last couple of beers before the next day we had to go back to reality and leave this sweet place called Dalhalla.

 

Misses

 

– Management of the camping sites: the camping area was about 20 min from the festival entrance, and you were not allowed to bring your car there to unload, which we found a bit inconvenient. The camping sites were very poorly secured (practically everybody could sneak in), the fresh water supply was limited and there was even no water left on Sunday morning and there were no (or not working) showers. We heard from the “Black tent” camp area that people had paid for cardboard tents without any heat/rain protection.

– Food supply at camping site: we had wished a more diverse food supply at the camping area, since camping stoves were oficially prohibited.

– Sound arrangement: it was a bit annoying if you were in the space between two stages to have the sounds from both of them clashing.

– The presence of undercover/official police inside and outside the festival areas: we heard that around 100 people were arrested due to drug possession, even if the festival went over without any aggressive incident. Sometimes we felt being supervised, with police forces even introducing sniffing dogs (!) into the quarry…

 

Hits

 

– International and local high quality line-up: our highlights were Young Marco, Hunee, Jamie Principle, Prins Thomas, Fred P. and The Black Madonna

– Positive vibes that we could perceive both from the festival goers as from the artists who after their performances were strolling around the festival area and melting with the crowd

– The natural surrounding and the spectacular scenery in the limestone quarry only add to this magical experience

– The sound: all stages were equipped with high quality speakers and a very well equilibrated sound

 

Into the Valley 2016 in its second edition has definitely proven to be on a very good way towards getting an internationally recognized avantgarde electronic music festival.Even if the weather left to be desired, the festival experience will stay in our memories and we would be happy to be able to come back next year to experience these finest sounds!

 

 

Photo credit: Alexandra at World is Music.

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