Entire nights dancing alongside thousands of strangers without masks or social distancing. The concept today seems almost like a work of science fiction, but it became a reality at the first real summer festival in Belgium, Voltage Festival. We spent almost 2 years waiting. The weekend of the 7th and 8th August, Voltage Festival finally made its return with ground-shaking kicks. The 2020 edition had been postponed because of the pandemic, so the reunion between the party and the partygoer was particularly savored this year. For its 6th edition, the festival hosted almost 50 artists on 3 stages. We will remember many big names, but also a list of local artists that Voltage has always put forward every year. All of this in a special setting, Voltage’s identity – the Transfo of Zwevegem, the old electricity plant.
○ DAY 1 ○
What an incredible feeling, almost forgotten in time, to arrive at the entrance of a festival. Hearing the bass from afar, getting your bracelet, and finally becoming one with the crowd moving to the rhythm of the music. 4 stage hosts are at the command of 3 stages for the first day. Kompass x Styxx for the mainstage, Possession, the famous Parisian collective for the second largest stage, and C12 on the last, more intimate stage.
No time to lose, Possession sets the tone right off the bat with Jan Vercauteren followed by Parfait, a resident of the collective. At the mainstage, things heat up very quickly with a b2b between the owner of Kompass, Massimo Mephisto, and one of his residents, Corvus Ex. Something to look out for on this stage later on are Reeko and Peter Van Hoesen – both delivered top tier techno, with undeniable quality in both technique and selection.
At the Possession stage, it’s Inhalt Der Nacht making jaws drop. Resident of Griessmühle in Berlin, Khidi in Tbilisi, and Rote Sonne in Munich, it goes without saying that he has a huge reputation. He proved himself worthy of said reputation with a massive set that sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Already 8pm, time flies even more with a live set by Techno Thriller on the C12 stage. The 1 hour goes by quickly, especially when the experience is that intense. Already a favorite at Dour 2018, Techno Thriller imposes themselves yet again as a duo out of the norm with a musical universe that’s so particular to them. The night has now fallen and rolling kicks can be heard echoing off the facades of the Zwevegem Transfo. The lights reveal the imposing installation that is the electricity plant with Karenn in the middle of it all; more accurately, a b2b between Blawan and Pariah. Vinyls are sifted through and swapped in and out at blinding speed, all while maintaining surgical precision, something unique to the duo.
The end of the first day is growing closer, and the set to accompany it is memorable. Len Faki, Anetha, and Parrish Smith close out the night on their respective stages – finishing off a first day that will stay engraved in our memory.
○ DAY 2 ○
Voltage’s selling point is of course it’s location, but also its artist curation. A balanced mix between international, fashionable artists and local players. With about 50 artists total, there are more than 20 Belgian artists. The country is bursting with fresh talent and Voltage isn’t afraid to put it in the spotlight.
The country is bursting with fresh talent and Voltage isn’t afraid to put it in the spotlight.
This was seen directly with the opening of the Fuse stage with the finesse of Altinbas and A. Brehme, or even with Atis, Phara and PTTRN at the Voltage imprint stage. It was also on this stage that the founder of Voltage, Steven Van Belle, a.k.a Parallel Circuit, whipped up a techno set that undoubtedly included a good amount of unreleased Voltage Imprint records.
Over at the maintage, hosted on the second day by Rimbu, the music is appreciated by fans of aggressive, stomping techno. Those who look for more cerebral techno quickly found a home at the Fuse stage where Kr!z, the founder of Token Records, was followed by Efdemin who both delivered very refined selections, perfectly in line with the values of the club that invited them. All of this being preached out of an incredible Funktion One sound system perfectly tuned. Yes, it had to be mentioned!
In the late afternoon, it was Desroi’s turn to perform his live set. The German artist, known for his skill in modular synthesis and other machines, like the ‘Orgon Systems Enigiser’, was eagerly awaited by purists for his first-ever show in Belgium. A 1 hour journey through unique sound design riding off strong rhythm to create a perfect combo tailored for Voltage.
After that live set, everything started picking up. The end of the festival loomed closer, too close. The tempo and decibels started rising, almost as if the DJs wanted to give it their all to honor the end of this first Belgian festival.
Some people will say that the festival lacked musical diversity as the end of the festival approached, others will vehemently praise this last push in intensity. However, one thing remains a certainty: it was impossible to escape the evergrowing positive energy that had been brewing over the past two days. Intense – that’s the word that defined the last hour of the festival. 11h55 saw the whole festival team, friends, and partners dancing alongside VTSS and Randomer at the mainstage. The artists stop the music, to be met with a cry for one last dance from a crowd in denial, and are in turn hit with one last explosion of energy – this is met with roaring cheers and applause to close it out. Voltage 2021 is finished, and we will see you next year without a doubt!
Special thanks to the Voltage crew for their warm-hearted welcome. Analog pictures by Cédric Dhooghe Dev & Scan by Studio Baxton English translation by Noah Hocker