The 264 Cru

a Dubai based music, arts, and culture collective

Atlas Electronic 2016 | Festival Review

With a hunger to socialize and discover what the alternative scene was all about in Morocco, we set on our journey to Marrakesh to cover 4 days of futuristic décors, intense bpm and ratchet people partying in a mud-built villa in the middle of the desert, overlooking the stunning Atlas Mountains. Read on to see how we experienced the first edition of Atlas Electronic, a brand new festival with a promising future.

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We first heard about Atlas Electronic through social media, with the promise of “…eclectic mix of forward thinking electronic music, stunning art, visuals and traditional local music, culture and food.” As the lineup started to emerge a few days prior to the event, we got a better idea of what the organizers were up to: James Holden & Maalem Houssam Gania, Acid Arab, Roman Fluegel, BAMBOUNOU and SecretSundaze were some of the known names, though this festival was all about discovering new ones.

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With shuttle buses scheduled to pick up and drop off partygoers from Marrakesh train station every half hour (at least in paper), we headed out to Villa Janna for the opening night, which turned out to be a cosy session in comparison to what was ahead of us. After grabbing a few drinks and marvelling at the promised stunning art (def a high point!), we found ourselves partying in a manmade Roman amphitheater equipped with a massive sound system, letting Jugurtha and BeatuniQue take us on a journey, one led by the awesome visuals from Swiss guys SUPERMAFIAVJ’s and the million stars above us.

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With an early night in, we headed down next day to check out the day / pool vibes, which kicked off at noon every day and stayed open until closing hours (3ish am). With warm weather but cloudy skies, it seemed that many people preferred to do a bit of touristic stuff during the day instead of heading to the festival, with most of the crowd getting in from 8pm onwards or so. The last stage was positioned on the rooftop of the main entrance and it was hosted by the guys from Amsterdam's Red Light Radio, an online radio station operating since 2010 and showcasing a big range of DJ’s, playing more chilled out tunes and even hosting Acid Arab to close down Friday night playing a selection of their favorite songs.

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This stage quickly became our favorite chill out area, with plenty of space to sit back and take a break, and a cosy dance floor overlooking the entire site. Here, we met random people, admired and wonder the meaning of all the art around us (including live artists creating work from scratch and a digital graffiti projection) and discovered incredible talented musicians such as Philou Louzolo and local hero Polyswitch. The other highlight of the night was seeing up and coming Karnel Kovacs killing on the decks, with such an energy that unfortunately didn’t match the amount of people watching him (a recurrent but understandable fact given Atlas’ first edition).

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Although the food options were plenty and tasty, provided by the reliable Nomad Marrakesh, the prices were set with a European wallet in mind; building an appetite while waiting for the shuttle bus to arrive, we relied on a late night Marrakesh legend, La Nostalgie to refuel us for the next day. We noticed the weekend crowd arriving on Saturday, with Molly, Bambounou and Gerd & Serge scheduled to play one after each other, making the pool stage go wild with people going for refreshing dips in the middle of the night and the partying going on well after scheduled time.

We noticed that a few people, mostly coming from Europe, were already on their way back home on Sunday, though that didn’t stop the rest of us to make the most of a promising lineup. Fred P played some really funky sounds at the amphitheater and Steven Pieters & Khalil closing out in style as the few hundreds who managed to stay were sure to remember the festival for time to come.

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So our advice is: if you’re really into the techno and electronic scene, you’d probably love it, your favorite artists playing at an exotic location with great sunsets and warm weather it should definitely be considered in your calendar. Check out their page for next year’s event and let us know what you think, hosting 4 big international festivals this year alone, Morocco is growing into a fun, cheap and alternative place to have fun, eat good food and experience the blend of North African roots with European influences.

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Written by: Marco Meier & Nabeel El-Dughailib

Facebook 2017 event: https://www.facebook.com/events/298330607201379/

All photo credits go to Abstract Minded Photography and Atlas Electronic Press.