Club to Club Festival 2016

Tucked in the northern Italian city of Torino, Club to Club Festival is a hidden gem. The city itself is industrial and historically a hub for underground electronic music. The experimental and avant-garde lineup pays tribute to the city’s atmosphere. Club to Club spans over five days and different venues, but mainly took place at the Lingotto Fiere, a spacious convention center that’s reminiscent of a warehouse with the high ceilings of its main stage. Down a long hall of bar stands and wandering festival goers was the hazy Sala Gialla. Hosted by Red Bull Music Academy, Sala Gialla was a smaller stage that provided a more intimate experience. Both stages presented impressive sound systems that paired perfectly with the diverse range of artists.

While I didn’t have the opportunity to see every set, these are what I consider to be the leading performances of the weekend.

Mura Masa

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Photo by Gabrielle Small

Mura Masa, the young producer and multi-instrumentalist also known as Alex Crosson, delivered a strong and dynamic set at Sala Gialla. Rapper and vocalist Bonzai generated unmatchable energy as she utilized the space and connected with the crowd in the way a DJ can’t. Together they worked off each other, strong vocals tied into Mura Masa’s unique blend of hiphop and future electronic beats. Each song was distinct and the audience rippled in response. Mura Masa dropped quite a few fan favorites and got the crowd singing along at some points. He and Bonzai had the crowd dancing with their combination of drippy beats and powerful vocals.

Listen to the popular What If I go?

Fatima Yamaha

Dutch producer Bas Bron under his alias Fatima Yamaha played my personal favorite set of the weekend. The energy was unparalleled. Almost ethereal, the performance was uniquely his own. Every moment of his set was recognizable by his soft beats and synth riffs that carried the performance song to song. The set was sonically interesting with the dance floor foundational techno beat but each moment shook with sounds that brought the music further, almost floating away. He perfectly guided the crowd with his slow-burning, hypnotic rhythms. Fatima Yamaha ended his set with the underdog What’s a Girl to Do and continued to do the unexpected. As the unmistakable melody of the “low-key classic” began to mix seamlessly in, everything slowed and melted down as the captivated crowd swayed. Almost unaware, the audience swooned to the electronic grace of the synths and emotion of the vocal sample. And just as he’d managed to seduce us into the slowed rhythm, the tempo came bouncing back for the last few moments of the set.

Listen to What’s a Girl To Do

Jessy Lanza

The Canadian producer and vocalist Jessy Lanza together with Jeremy Greenspan from Junior Boys gave a dreamy performance that felt at times.experimental. Touching traces of R&B, the femme fatale jerked and soothed the crowd and no once knew what to expect. A highlight of the set was when Jessy Lanza dropped the summer favorite Kathy Lee. Jessy Lanza melodic voice was shrouded in reverb as the bouncy track hooked the crowd. It was one of the most danceable and strongest moments of the performance. The sparkly yet glitchy electronic pop was perfectly in tune with Club to Club’s futuristic feel. The set was excitingly different and truly memorable as the night progressed.

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Listen to Jessy Lanza’s Kathy Lee

Motor City Drum Ensemble

Motor City Drum Ensemble (MCDE), the moniker of the world renowned German DJ and producer Danilo Plessow, kept the crowd grooving till the sun literally rose early Sunday morning. MCDE’s unique blend of soul and his instinctual understanding of what makes us dance is truly what pushed his set apart from the rest of the weekend. Rooted in funk, his performance awoke the crowd from the 4am low. The set built in energy and MCDE proved his mastery of the turntables has he spun us into a fun filled oblivion.

Here’s a taste of MCDE

While Club to Club attracted a small international audience, it consisted of a mostly Italian crowd. According to a few festival goers I spoke to, the festival is really one of the most important electronic events in Italy. It brings so many artists to the region, where because of the lack of festivals, might not otherwise include Italy on their tours. Torino, much like Detroit, is evolving and electronic music events are becoming one of the leading touristic attractions to the city. Club to Club is known for it’s devotion to futurism and the 2016 lineup confirmed the festival’s progressive reputation. 

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