In case you have missed me, I was somewhere being high in the high mountains, surrounded by other high people among even higher mountains close to lake Garda in Italy. This was the amazing place where the best music festival in the world named MANDREA was taking place. In case you had been there; lucky you & congratulations! If you weren’t there; let me rub it a bit more in: you’ve missed out on the best fun music festival in the entire world! But don’t worry, if you somehow had managed to attended, it might be that you jumped on the bandwagon of love & also vanished from everyday life a bit!
The MANDREA festival is obviously done and run by dedicated people who really have their heart in making it the best festival ever, one big difference with other festivals… this one got actually all good music lined up & all stuff that made sense… which actually says a lot about the fine music taste of the curators behind Mandrea; they smashed it by putting up a music festival of 5 days (days of my disappearance; 16 to 20 of August 2017!) in which all the music acts, performers, bands, deejays etc all connected together, as if they somehow had been all coming from the same family tree… a tree of musical fruits that had all nothing but goodness within them. It was a bit like listening to a perfect mixtape of music but then the music is performed live and playing on different stages…
Although I did meet a tobacco begging dwarf-cowboy, you simply won’t find a sad boring cowboy jingling on a guitar live on stage here, or someone like a Rod Stewart doing a turd on the main stage…. there weren’t any overpaid deejay Triestos & certainly not a playback celebrity deejay like Paris Hilton on these hills, but we (me & the children) did spotted ‘dead mouse’ on the scene, bit this was an actual dead mouse, one that was in such a state of decay that only some hair and a tail was left of it; perfect! Just how we liked it!
No, instead this family-friendly festival focused on a very fine selection of Rastafarian-friendly material with lots of culture, roots, drum n bass tunes, big Balkan madness, brass bands, wicked dancers, swingy songwriters & even a group of people who seemingly played epic drums on trash bins! Oh and there was Tootsi! How cool is that?
But of course I was there for the Yuya, one of those legendary bands that would hit the forest stage at some point of this festival & possibly delivering the highlight of the entire event. But it wasn’t just the Yuya that got my interest, the whole party had it! Everything was there, tents with a fine collection of clothes (every businessmen or businesswomen could easily arrive in a suit and burn them down at a fire & get a completely new wardrobe of more suitable clothing) , lots of good food, workshops and a nice tent area to crash and sleep.
The daytime wasn’t filled with bands so you could take the one hour trip (and come back) to the famous lake (or one of the 500 other ones) for a swim (it’s pretty hot and sunny out here!) but in case you couldn’t be bothered, the deejay collectives (or invisible deejays!) would buzz out good vibes for the day-time stayers at the festival, playing a fine mix to dance on, while some other sportive festival goers took joy from throwing a frisbee or others simply engaged in munching up some of the festival foods!
On arrival you get greeted by a friendly dragon named Fouchour, one who overlooked the place gently while sitting next to a colorful bunch of sunflowers. This dragon must have been there from day one, observing the entire festival like a protector from another reality. Rumor went around that the Yuya had used this dragon to transport themselves to these fields, but there was also a shanti pirate-ship, gigantic spider and an enormous caterpillar… so I’m not really sure what their transportation of choice was…
If you would wanted some rest while sniffing up the mountain air & enjoying the many, many, many colorful butterflies and enormous grasshoppers; you had also been at the right location. It was full of all the mentioned & more; there was even a pile of dog poo! Who can resist this overdose of nature?
On Thursday I saw something else than grasshoppers hopping on the field, they were happy moving people hopping around while a fun sounding horn section of a band named Potaporco played some fine honking tooters and evidentially showed the biggest saxophone I’ve ever seen!
They perfectly played the sun down, making the lights dim with every note they played: Basically thanks to the likes of them the lights on the festival really had started to do their magical work: beautiful! …And that was just the soundcheck!
They had let the darkness sink in for a little bit, but then brought the festival alive with their massive sound and great vibes.
From Italian swearing in one song, to a very cute English one about loving the life; children and adults joined together for a dance in front of the stage! Lots of fun!
The grotesque dragon looking over the festival was smiling, protecting and overseeing the partying population with his eyes, creating a safe environment for the carefree society of happy go lucky festival enjoyers!
On the forest stage London based Turkish sing and songwriter Djanan Turan was doing her thing, creating a pressure-less atmosphere with her family-friendly songs and happy dance music that all ages began to move on!
Whether she performed intimate personal material alone while seated behind the lowest existing keyboard stand in Europe, or with her band of good musical friends; she glowed up the cozy location with her classics and also with her latest ‘dancing feet’. Children and adults jumped around happily when Djanan did her thing, optimizing the good vibes for all parties involved! Let’s say it was a win win situation!
Earth Beat Movement was one of the fat sounding bands that were doing magic on the Thursday’s main stage. Even though there was a full band on stage, the super tight songstress in the middle of it all stole the show by simply being on fire! Not literally, mind you… but seeing her powerful actions I wouldn’t be shocked if she would spontaneously combust at some points in her performance.
She was like a powerful warrior, with in front of her a massive field of a happy bumping crowd with here and there some weed clouds escaping from it. This was one for the Sensimilla sensitiva lovers!
After that it was Sam and the Womp who bounced the night further in, this time not with the full horn section but with their mad sound-system life show. An energetic Bloom jumped up and down, doing high kicks with a baby in her belly like no one else could, singing songs about ice creams, zeppelins or doing monkey sounds; it was all good!
Sam played the trumpet fanatically, but also singing about being a gypsy in the snow with only a shoe as a pillow, inviting people to festa and going berserk on their raving smasher RAVO. Also a bunch of colorful crazy people in spandex suddenly came to invade the stage for a special Womp dance, creating a nice weirdness in which good energy was exchanged! Oh and there had been bongos!
On the early Friday morning, 10 o clock, while my head was feeling like it had replaced itself with a balloon, I waited for a fruit salad & could hear some mesmerizing organ and piano music coming from the lonely field. With only dust and sand as the witnessing crowd it felt really special to stumble upon this virtuous loner who played so beautifully the piano/organ thingy; it’s the small things like this that makes a feel good chill festival so uniquely special…
More improvisational instant jam sessions could be found on or near the festival grounds, just people hooking up with some shakers, a cold milk bottle and perhaps a guitar. Some beautiful singing too! Look here I spotted some through the iron bars of my temporary cage:
Some more spontaneous get togethers are always around the corner…
It was too bad about the weather situation… I mean look at it, it was terrible! 😉
The first official playing artist on Friday was someone with the name Sabrina. She created this very trippy music on a saxophone with a loopstation & words that would show you the direct way to Yah Rastafari. When she started to sing about Yah you could feel the happiness and joy & that was a powerful thing to see & hear and experience. My head was still feeling like a balloon, but somehow Sabrina made me fill it up with some powerful substance again!
Some odd thing happened; at the very happy fun easy going festival in which everyone seemed to be cool and friendly; someone stole/borrowed/took the sofa pillows from the place where headliner of the night ‘Toots and the Maytals’ would stay. Panic in the place as Constance (from the respectable The YuYa!) could be seen in detective form searching the entire festival in search for these important pillows! Eventually the case was solved as one other respectable artist (and amazing bass player!) Al Maranca had ‘borrowed’ them for his sensitive body parts to rest upon… exciting times!
Not very later Nick Drake played for a full field of admirers on the forest stage, doing Radiohead bits & selling the CD’s.
Not long after this, loved couples started to hold their hands as they enjoyed Bloom de Wilde singing & performing her dreamy songs. I’m a romantic atmosphere of intimacy they absorbed the fantasyland that she created with her words.
Somehow I didn’t know if it was reality or not, but her music attracted some really strange tropical bird-like creatures too. I made some photos so I was sure it wasn’t just a weird visual thing generated by the local ganja.
On the big stage there was Shanti Powa , who had the power to play the festival many times in a row, and now retuning to completely nail what they do! Nice people, big band, good vibes!
What else do you need to know? They smashed it! They landed and it was as if the festival found its heart, pulsating loudly and brightly!
Later in the night I went up the high mountain following a very steep and barely lighted extremely small path (I went up the hill on plateau slippers) and found above a wonderful location between the rocks, one in which stamping techno bangers got mixed by (I presume) someone who was called Mad Max and… it was awesome!
Just the location, so high, so massive; it was here when that feel of authentic underground rave was well alive and kicking!
Unfortunately my manic dancing had to come to a halt as rain had come… there wasn’t protection for the equipment and I figured that on these high heeled slippers without a flashlight to light the path, it was probably best to go down barefoot before the whole mountain floor would become a slippery slide with wasted happy people… I imagined my worst case scenario; myself falling off the mountain in the dark, only to be found a couple of weeks later… maybe Al Maranca would have dragged my body to a tent so he could use them instead of sofa pillows…
Meantime down on the main festival it was probably time for culture legends Toots and the Maytals to play. But of course they had also been greeted with a fair freshness brought by a sudden case of rain… but Toots and crew luckily aren’t made out of sugar, and had no fear of melting down and with some magic they stopped the rain and took the stage at around 00:40 under warm greetings from a very enthusiastic audience!
With their massive sound many dreadlocks began to move around, high kicks could be seen as the whole field bounced; only happy faces on this festival! No rain could water these good vibes down the drain! Unfortunately I haven’t had made a picture of this spectacle, (batteries know when they need to run out…), but trust me it was pretty massive!
The whole night till early morning awesome beats could be heard supplied by the likes of Luca Fronza & Dreadlion Firestarter Sound! I was personally surprised how anyone could possibly function & wake up in the early morning after such a early morning rave;but I guess that’s one of these urging questions in life!
Toots had left some of the very fresh deliciously tasty salmon in his temporary apartment, which was good for a free meal on the next day for some of the happy lucky birds. A fridge with beers was also found; all gods gifts for happy fried party people!
The early Saturday evening had been terrorized by a spectacular light show, one that wasn’t planned and unfortunately it came with rain too. I tried to capture it for you with a picture, but out of all the billions photos that I took; only this one had captured a thunderbolt of lightning. “Thunderbolts of lightning, very very frightening hey halleyo!”
When the godly light-spectacle had taken a hike “Al Maranca & the Round Colored Note” had taken over the forest stage & played such a beautiful set of Mediterranean grooves that they bewitched the clustered audience in no-time. Al certainly didn’t bring sofa pillows on stage as he was there rocking out like a troubadour who could hit every note into a dancing one!
They played and played, making everybody dance so hard that the wet sand became damp by the many feet dancing all over it! Al Maranca was like the perfect one man band (blowing a harmonica, singing, playing this stringed instrument -all at the same time!) but then teamed up with a drummer and percussionist which together simply felt like a enlarger of movements. The whole field was one of love, culture & happy music! The Yuya might be the reason to come to MANDREA, but hell, the music performance of Al Maranca was definitely one of the highlights of the evening!
Later on I saw a bit of Selby and the Dharma Blitz. A diverse mix of people rocking out material that was cool but couldn’t beat the charismatic Al Maranca or the ultimate voodoo vibes that had had been doing a spell on the audience in front of the main stage… but damn, it’s hard to outperform the vibes of Vaudou Game!
The voodoo vibes came from the extremely tight sounding Vaudou Game who came all the way from France. The main guy was dressed colorfully, with the others in a candid uniform of a t shirt and stripy pants. They had such a great energy, very up and entrancing!
Vaudou Game really knew how to get the audience involved and engaged, with a stunning performance by main man Peter Solo and his musical funky brothers was as big that it made me think of charismatic legends like Prince and Jimmy Hendrix. Music wise it was a smashingly tight mix of blues, funk & voodoo rhythms! This was one band of charismatic character that was pretty much high out there in their tightness delivering such great uplifting energies that it was only fair that Sam (from Sam and the Womp) gave the main man a chocolate crepe! So groovy!
Midnight Zoo was the last band that took the Saturday night on the Forest Stage, one who seemed to be playing for quite some time and then some time more. My friend called them the Crusty band, but I’m not really sure if I know what that actually means. It probably doesn’t have anything to do with crusty the clown…
The name midnight Zoo was a good fitting one though; their diversity as a group and their different heights body-wise made them look a bit like a showcase of a Zoo’s highlights. A collective of music individuals that all brought something to the table musically…
The tall girl in the middle impressed me, she had a great voice and a nice aura over her, seeing her in between a Jamaican channeling persona on one side and the miniature rapping superman on the other side was really freaky! If you listened to the music you would think that the rapping words would come from a big dark toned guy but when you look up you saw micro superman; I must say that this was one of these moments that it was all about being surprised! Never underestimate or judge a book by its cover… or a zoo…
I would see some of these zoo people on the last night again, dancing around behind the counter of the vegetarian healthy food counter, presumably making pasta while obviously off their tits! Some people didn’t dare to eat the pasta because they had concerns it was possible laced with fruitful hallucinations so hard, you might wake up yourself as a festival-traveling member of midnight zoo…
But yeah, the last day… Sunday. That was killer! With a supply of free beers all went well… let’s say… life became a little blurry… I’m not totally sure how I had ended up on a mattress in the middle of the early morning. But somehow I must have managed to find it. I must say that I found much comfort in the fact that everybody seemed to go for that perfect state of self-medication… almost making it an individual contest of who is the most medicated… so much that I’m not even sure who is the winner! Perhaps everyone is a winner around here!
Than it was time for the legendary Yuya, consisting of nobody less than the strong duo Constance Dalrymple & Eliseo Soardi & for this show they brought some talented music friends on stage! Oh my goodness, it was like multiple stars had aligned and had melted their magical powers to make miracles come true!
I don’t really know what happened, but I remember the Yuya rocking out, going completely fried -eating the stage as if it was a tasty bit of yoghurt. Everybody was dancing, from young children to the ones who had grown bigger but had always been children at heart!
After that there was this band that I don’t know the name off. Let’s call it the band with no name.
Actually it was here that my memory in genera; started to fail me and I’ve just started to make once in a while a picture of what was going on… most of them colorfully blurry and moved & others more sharp.. Amazing, he? Photography…
I remember going from the boiler room tent to the forest stage and back. They had been blasting out reggae, jungle & drum n bass things there and it was something that was cozy, loud and energetic enough to spend the whole night until the early hours of the morning buzzing.
The left over beers and special smokable fumes made a good breakfast, lunch and dinner. The time at the beautiful MANDREA music festival was one that I (and probably many others…) wished to stand still… so full of love, friendly people great music and awesome location! … When is the next one?