Albania’s Unum Festival was the first unrestricted festival in Europe and that really showed with the special atmosphere from start to finish, in one of the most perfect and idyllic settings you could imagine. The week of the event, the Albanian government dropped all regulations as Covid cases were so low. What’s more, the whole festival was supported by the Albanian Government through the Ministry of Tourism and Environment and Ministry of Health.
In all there was an amazing 14000 people turn up across the weekend. People from England, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and even Israel and the USA mixed with those from Kosovo and Montenegro, Serbia, Romania and Macedonia. Gloves and masks were mandatory for the cleaning team and toilets and mass-access areas were disinfected regularly and proof of how well that worked came when everyone was tested before leaving and no one had Covid-19.
Once we arrived at the beach, backed by a pine forest, we get stuck in on the Into the Pines stage, cosy and cute and nestled away in the tress. People are full of smiles, there is so much great energy and lots of positivity after such an awful year. The music runs on it for 24 hours straight and Frenchman Dyed Soundorom really impresses with his deep, warm sounds. Raresh also went solo and then back to back with Praslesh which was one of the festival highlights for five hours on the Sunday morning. The stage was closed down in famously epic fashion by the much loved hero that is Ricardo Villalobos with a set of left of centre gems and some party classics.
The main stage also had its moments but they were much bigger, with names like SvenVath playing a few times over the weekend and drawing the biggest crowd. His big sounds are matched by Ben Klock, a Berghain hero who brings plenty of concrete funk. The Beach Stages looked beautiful, too, and remained a low key affair. Jamie Roy and Traumer are two of the standouts and manage to serve up super slick sets of infectious, quality minimal music.
The way the sun sets into the mountains across the water from the UNUM festival site will stick long in the memory. It lit up the sky with all manner of deep reds and oranges that never failed to pause conversation and take your breath away. That alone of course is not enough to make for a successful festival, but when you add in the world class music and great organisation, you have one of Europe’s most essential underground events. Here are 10 essential tracks that we heard at Unum:
2 House – Go Techno – Played By Dyed Soundorom – Pine Stage
Damiano von Erckert – Let’s Hide Away – Played By Sven Vath – Main Stage
Index – Parallel 9 – Played By Ben Klock – Main Stage
Alexis Cabrera – Knew He’s Gunna Lie – Played By Shaun Reeves – Main Stage
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