Festival Report: Sandbox Festival (Egypt)

About two months ago we got an invite from Nacelle to join Luis Leon to their Sandbox Festival that was taking place on June 20th in Egypt at the North Coast. The festival, in cooperation with Heineken featured artists like Edu Imbernon, M.A.N.D.Y., Jan Blomqvist, Luis Leon and locals like Fulltone (LIVE). We were immediately enthusiastic about it, where other might have considered not to go because of past events in Egypt.

It wasn’t that long ago when the Egyptian people stood up against their president and the social situation in the country turned into a state of chaos. The images that we got via the media makes most people believe that it is still a dangerous place to go. However, when arriving in Cairo it seemed like the uprise didn’t even take place. When walking out of the airport we got offered a ride by at least 5 people of course, as they spot a Westerner from a mile away. But when you tell them that you are sorted they kindly welcome you to their country and wish you a great stay. That is something that you won’t see in many other developing countries.

When we drove into the city we were absolutely starving and needed to have a good meal before going to sleep. Ahmed El Sebai, the promoter took us to this amazing place which overviews the Nile exactly where it split up in two. The food was delicious and the service was better than you would normally see in Holland. The next day when we woke up we had to rush to not miss our ride to the north coast, to go to the location of the festival. The temperature was around 40 degrees that day but luckily we had air-conditioning in the van for our 4-hour drive. When we arrived we saw this mega hotel, which apparently had just opened that same day. So we were one of the first guest to ever stay there, which meant that there were more people working than actually staying in the Hotel that weekend.

Normally when you play at a festival you travel on the day of playing and leave the next day, but this time we had 3 days to enjoy the beautiful country. Unfortunately no pyramids for us though, but a day on the beach swimming in a clear blue sea was not something we would have wanted to skip. After another traditional Egyptian meal that night at this cute restaurant in the middle of nowhere, we got some good sleep to be fresh and ready for the next day to enjoy the Sandbox Festival on the beach.


We had a little sneak peak of the location the day before, but now it was finished and ready to get partied on by 1200 Egyptian and European visitors. The whole production was very well organized and the sound system was pure bliss to listen to. Tito, who is running Nacelle, is a sound engineer himself and put a lot of time and effort in getting the sound as perfect as possible, which was certainly the case. For the lights he couldn’t find someone in Egypt that met his requirements, so he got someone from Holland to take care of this. The way that ticket sales were handled was new to me as they hold track of the male/female quotation, so it was not possible to get more guys in then woman. You wanted to buy a ticket as a guy? Bring a girl with you, was the answer. A nice idea for events that are known to have more male than female visitors.

The event started off at 2pm with local artist, Hisham Zahran on the decks who was setting the mood for those that would follow. The set he played was the perfect way to open a festival, as he knew the event was not about him but he fulfilled the task of getting people in the vibe perfectly. The Egyptians aren’t the fastest to get into the mood but when they did the vibe was great. It started to get a bit fuller around 5pm, when Luis Leon was on. The people recognized his signature tracks and he had the girls coming to the front of the dance floor instantly.The next act was Fulltone, which was a local live act, who brought a really cool sound with him.


After this local surprise it was Jan Blomqvist and his band members who started doing their live act and it was at this moment that the place became completely packed. They also shot the video clip for their new single here. We’ve only seen a recording of his performance before in Berlin, but being there to experience it yourself surely was a special moment. Next up was Edu Imbernon, who always puts up a pumping set that gets you going. His 4-track Traktor set up with an Ipad for the FX is one you don’t see often. Last up was M.A.N.D.Y. whose performance was a little bit shorter as the police unfortunately had to call it a night. Nevertheless this didn’t change anything to the perfect day it was.
The way everything came together at Sandbox Festival with the show, the hospitality, the weather and the people we can surely say that Nacelle is up for good things in the future. It would be great to see Egypt getting its own dance music scene with quality events like this.