Taking place over the weekend of 14 to 16 September, the expansive Fellah Hotel situated just outside Marrakesh played host to the 4th edition of the Oasis festival. It was this reporters first time in Morocco, and I joined some friends a week before the party to experience the sights, tastes and many adventures on offer in and around the city.
To say I ended up leaving a piece of my soul in the Sahara would not be an exaggeration. It is a magical place where the ancient collides with the new world in a spectacular mishmash of cultures. From quad biking in the desert, exploring the maze of souks inside the walled old city, or hiking up to a remote Kasbah for lunch in the picturesque Atlas Mountains: Marrakesh truly has something for everyone: Consequently, come the weekend of the festival, we were fully relaxed/hyped and ready to get involved. We caught the always reliable shuttle from our nearest collection point around dusk and 30 minutes later were directed into the wristband collection tent.
Friday night was all about taking in the Fellah Hotel complex and orienting ourselves with the map available on the festivals impressive phone app. The best way I could describe the location, and really the whole weekend is: ‘a little bit of everything in just the right amounts’.
The dance floors were well spaced to prevent a clashing of their sound rigs, – which incidentally were some of the loudest and clearest I’ve experienced in years. One never waiting long for a toilet and there was always someone on hand to clean it after the person before you. Missing in action mates were never an issue as the whole site was washed with reliable free WiFi. The bars were reasonably priced and the food court had menus from every corner of the globe.
Every day we discovered some cool new area or feature we’d missed the previous night. One of the most surreal moments for me was sitting alongside the main floor on Saturday, puffing away on a fruity sheesha and drinking seriously moreish Maghrebi mint tea while Denis Horvat, Alex Niggemann and local export Amine K played a cracking back to back set.
Let’s talk about the Oasis artist line-up. Whoever curated it has a deep understanding of the scene and how to blend local heroes perfectly alongside international stars. Friday night was big room techno on the main stage with Deetron, Nastia, Rødhåd and Ben Klock absolutely annihilating the previously serene calm. It was wonderful. The two smaller floors provided some deeper beats whenever it all got too much.
Saturday was far and away the busiest night and was well attended by local dance music fans, – which was encouraging to see considering the festivals price tag is tourist orientated. All three floors were a brilliant mix of sounds to satisfy all tastes, and whilst artists like DJ Boring, Avalon Emerson and Octo Octa worked their magic on the smaller stages, the main floor swelled to capacity and flowed seamlessly to the heavy hitters Sasha, Stephan Bodzin and finally Carl Cox. For me personally, Sasha had the best set of the whole weekend. He went off script and played some of the deepest, darkest melodies I’ve heard from him in years. A rare treat indeed.
Saturday night did the time warp into Sunday evening far too quickly and with little sleep, I dragged whoever could muster the courage with me to enjoy the last night. The organisers, I think, had learned from previous editions that they needed to put the strongest lineups on the smaller floors on this night. La Fleur, Damian Lazarus, Honey Dijon, Denis Sulta and Detroit Swindle brought their best and I had an amazing time bouncing between the Bamboo and Mirage stages. The main floor however still drove hard to a very funky back to back from Derrick Carter and the Black Madonna, followed by continental hero Black Coffee and finally DJ Koze who closed it all down in a ceremonious fashion.
In conclusion, after speaking with people who had gone to previous editions, the overall consensus was that Oasis 2018 will be the year this festival really came into its own: And I for one will definitely be back someday to once more get lost and find myself in the Desert. No question!