Review: Equation 2017

14/04/2017 – 16/04/2017

The first edition of Equation took place on the Good Friday weekend, 14th to 16th April. Nestled in the forests of Son Tinh, an hour’s drive from Hanoi, the venue is also the home of Quest Festival in November. This time, the pristine nature played host to three consecutive days of techno, house, disco and everything in between. As the revellers started to arrive on Friday afternoon, the picturesque campsite slowly erupted into life.

There were two main stages at the festival. The Journey stage was more oriented towards house and disco while the Universe stage leaned towards techno. The tea tent was in effect a third stage where any kind of music goes. At one point, we were woken up by the tune of Nicolas Jaar’s “Time For Us”. With so much quality music on offer, our only gripes were that it was impossible to catch every set in full due to clashes and the guilt of missing out on several great acts just to catch some rest.

The Journey stage comprised of a 360 sound system with a booth in the middle. With a speaker positioned 5m from each corner of the stage, the dancers surrounded the selector and faced each other, creating a special cosy atmosphere. Telephones kicked off the first night with a superb set of disco, jazz and soul before Miya followed up with groovy deep house. San Soda and Borrowed Identity also delivered, blaring out favourites like Dwayne Jensen’s “My People” (Disco Nights Mix). While African music was extremely popular at this stage, there were also plenty of other influences such as reggae and Japanese disco. Yoshi Nori, for example, closed his set with Nima Shimada’s “Sunshower”.

Over at the Universe stage, quality techno pounded continuously for the duration of the festival. The stage had a wooden pyramidal platform which seemed like a hindrance initially until you stood on it and felt the bass reverberate through your body. On the first night, Oskar Offermann played a sunrise set of slow, groovy techno after man of mystery S.O.N.S challenged everyone with an eclectic set of electro, broken beats and non 4/4 techno. Bézier’s soaring live set of arpeggios then kicked off a second day of festivities, which saw a strong showing from the Asian DJs at the Universe stage.

Diskonnected showed those present exactly why he is so well-regarded within Asia. His set was undoubtedly one of the best kept secret of the festival as he brought the small crowd on a space odyssey. His immaculate no-fuss mixing style is reminiscent of Marcel Dettmann – rarely skipping the kick for more than a bar and the absence of breakdowns. It is no surprise that he will be playing at Berghain later next month.  Meanwhile, Magico and Antwork also did Mystik proud with solid performances. In particular, Antwork’s brand of minimal techno was a treat for the afternoon hours.

The highlight of the second night was without a doubt the 12am – 3am time slot. ATEQ’s set of raw, atmospheric techno (with several cuts from Prince of Denmark) was stunning. When the lights were switched off, this set had one of the most special atmosphere and the Universe stage felt like a single organism with ATEQ as the brain directing its movement. At the same time, Alex From Tokyo played the Journey stage to rave reviews, which we were unfortunately unable to catch. In the final hours, Maggie G toned things down at the Universe stage with a smooth set of deep house and DJ Dustin continued the gradual downward trajectory with three hours of deep, introspective house with the occasional left-field electronica. Taku Hirayama then brought the energy levels up again as he closed the Universe stage with aplomb.

Equation certainly exceeded all expectations in its first edition as everything proceeded smoothly. The best part of the festival was the intimacy. With a small crowd of approximately 600 this year, most of the small community already knew each other but newcomers were also warmly welcomed. It is also not often that you see your favourite DJs dancing with you after or before their sets. You know a festival is good when even the DJs want to be a part of the crowd. Equation is set to grow in the coming years for the right reasons.

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