Barcelona’s Parc Del Forum was built in 2004 as a place to promote the city’s culture in the wake of dwindling numbers of tourists. Fast forward to 2015 and the park never quite lived up to its original billing, instead turning into something of a Spanish Millennium Dome in the intervening years.
Much like the ill-fated dome, it’s now home to numerous music festivals including Primavera Sound and, for this weekend, DGTL Barcelona, the inaugural Spanish edition of the popular Dutch festival renowned for its meticulously programmed underground line-ups, art installations and focus on sustainability.
Around 5 miles from bustling heart of Bacelona’s La Ramblas, the Parc Del Forum can be found at the far end of the city’s beach – you can’t miss it thanks to the site’s huge solar panel that sticks out like a sore thumb on the pristine Spanish coastline. The perfect place, then, for one of DGTL’s stages to really showcase their sustainable ethos.
The festival looks to offer something Primavera, and to a lesser extent, Sonar doesn’t: an underground, intimate festival in the heart of Barcelona. It’s so intimate, in fact, that there are only three stages: Stereo, Phono and Digital. But don’t let that fool you, as DGTL go to great lengths to make sure they all pack a punch from start to finish.
Arranged in a triangle, Phono is at the top housed beneath a huge solar panel, the perfect location for the likes of Pearson Sound, George Fitzgerald and Breach to work their magic. The other two stages are housed amongst shipping containers, and while they might not look quite as imposing or eye-catching, they do provide better sound systems, a bit more space to dance and accompanying visuals to get lost in.
When DJ Mag arrives at the festival grounds on Friday, the prognosis looks good. The sun is breaking through the patchy clouds and the festival is beginning to fill up with locals, tourists and expats who are soaking up French techno don Agoria’s generous 3-hour set. The French stalwart goes deep with sculptured cuts of house and muscular slabs of techno including Catz & Dogz’ remix of RÜFÜS’s ‘You Were Right’ and Hauswerks’ remix of Groove Armada’s classic ‘I See You Baby’.
As the day slowly turns to night, the festival is bustling with punters crisscrossing the festival site to the three stages, which are all within earshot each other. As DJ Mag walks between Agoria, Kosmos and Joseph Capriati all three sound systems are fighting for our attention; techno bleeding into house, house bleeding into electronica – it’s an intoxicating tug-of-war and a treat for the ears.
Read our 10 Tracks That Ruled DGTL Barcelona here.
Agoria then makes way for German deep house don Henrik Schwarz, who delivers an assured live set that includes his own sleek progressive productions as well as a host of remixes including his melodic remix of Emmanuel Jal’s ‘Kuar’ and Ebo Taylor & Pat Thomas’ ‘Eye Nyam Nam’. Closing the festival’s Digital stage is adopted hometown hero Maceo Plex, who takes the willing crowd on a sonic journey of fuzzy italo-infused techno and deep, rumbling tech-house. Maceo is on the form of his life as he unloads fan-favorite ‘Conjure Superstar’, followed by his latest release, ‘Solar Detroit’, for the strongest set of the first day at DGTL Barcelona.
Unfortunately, Saturday kicks off with a huge thunderstorm as we arrive at the site to catch Marcel Dettmann’s early evening set. The rain is lashing down as festival-goers scramble for shelter and free ponchos. As evening breaks the weather begins to clear and the whole festival kicks up a gear. The Phono stage is closed due to the inclement weather, but the organisers simply move it to another part of the park, and while it doesn’t have the same sound levels, or visual impact, the derelict open-walled warehouse, where it’s moved to, does offer a place to dry off and catch a breath.
Highlights start coming thick and fast as David August drops Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Protect Your Neck’ and George Fitzgerald’s ‘Call It Love’ to rapturous applause during his live set. Before making way for hometown hero John Talabot, who attracts the biggest crowd of the festival, as the Barcelona native weaves melodic techno over more obscure cuts of electronica before making way for Saturday’s headliner, Dixon. He’s afforded a generous two and half hours in which to send the crowd home on a high, and he delivers in spades. Highlights include the German dropping Red Axe’s deft acid monster ‘Na Da’ then finishing his set with Charles Webster’s remix of Hayden James’ ‘Something About You’.
All-in-all DGTL’s Barcelona debut is a resounding success, sound-levels are incredible all weekend, queues for drinks are minimal, and the crowd more than played their part, especially in the face of driving rain.