Taking place in an eight-room boutique hotel on the outskirts of Marrakech, Oasis Festival is a classy affair. Punters can’t stay on site during the festival, but once you’re there, you can get in the pool and lounge about on rooftops watching the spellbinding sunset while drinking cocktails or smoking shisha. It’s also the perfect size for bouncing about between the two stages while making friends that you’re bound to keep bumping into all weekend long. And it’s only a couple of miles from the centre of Marrakech meaning you can spend your days wandering through the city’s mind-boggling markets, and dining on the incredible local cuisine for very little money. Sure, the flights there cost a little bit and drinks invariably come at London prices due to Morocco being a predominantly Muslim country (albeit one of the more liberal ones), but for that you’re getting both a festival and pretty special holiday to boot.
Unfortunately Saturday night’s marquee main stage name Maceo Plex had to pull out due to a missed flight. But, as much as we love Maceo Plex here at Mixmag, it started to feel slightly like a blessing in disguise once we got halfway through his replacements set. Nicolas Jaar – who was performing a live set on the Sunday – agreed to fill in with a DJ set just a couple of hours before stage time and pulled a pretty spectacular two hours out of his locker. Shifting between bits of ambient, world music and out-and-out euphoric cuts, not to mention dropping a hardcore banger at the end, Jaar’s peak-time Saturday night foray seemed to be a transcendent highlight for a large contingent of the festival crowd. Then on Sunday he returned for his live set and played an equally impressive, yet completely different, two hours of his own material that veered a little more towards the downbeat and brooding. The fact a shooting star went hurtling through the sky above the festival site towards the end of his second set of the weekend felt more than apt. It was an out-and-out man of the match performance from Jaar at Oasis Festival.
While the main stage at Oasis certainly had its fair share of brilliant moments, the set-up - which consisted largely of a raised platform covering a swimming pool that made it difficult to see the DJ - did lead to a few moments of disconnect between the crowd and whoever was on-stage at the time. The Arena, on the other hand, was a perfectly formed area for dance music. Cave-like and sunken into the ground, it provided a fair few highlights of the weekend. Friday saw a floaty and groove-heavy live set from Harvey Sutherland, followed by Kornél Kovács as reliably on form as ever before Move D and Hydra main man Dolan Bergin continued with the pure party vibes. Things went in a slightly darker direction on Saturday night with Shed once again demonstrating his brilliant ability to combine the tough with the ambient and introspective, while DJ Stingray was on blistering form, ratcheting through his unique brand of techno indebted sci-fi electro.
It's nice...but not too nice
In 2017, people want something different from their raving experience. Wellness and mindfulness are words often thrown into the mix when a festival first goes on sale, and Oasis Festival was definitely not low on a few pampering options. If you wanted to start your day with a yoga class you could, there was no shortage of fruit smoothies and healthy food options, a champagne bar and thanks to the site’s hedge rowed lanes of fragrant herbs, it basically smelt like the best place on the planet. But considering the festival took place in a luxury boutique hotel, these boujie touches weren’t at the cost of creating a really solid, heads down, raving experience. The sound was on-point all weekend and not only had the organisers booked a pretty stonking line-up, they’d generally managed to programme it perfectly too, which as we all know, isn’t always the case at these events.
Sunday at the Oasis stage
Prior to Nicolas Jaar’s set on the Saturday night, we’d been treated to a double bill of Charlotte De Witte and Daniel Avery who both had their moments, but maybe leaned a little too much towards the tough for the pool party setting and relatively early hours. But on Sunday the line-up on the Oasis stage was pitched just right. Marcellus Pittman perhaps sensed a few weary heads at his early evening set and pulled out a set of joyful, groove and vocal heavy house, taking it a little more jacking towards the end. Later on Jackmaster and Axel Boman had the rather unenviable task of following Nicolas Jaar’s aforementioned live set but pulled it out the bag with a shedload of quality house and disco, a smattering of acid and a few surefire classics like Talking heads’ ‘Psycho Killer’ and ‘Let No Man Put Asunder’ by First Choice which had the crowd reeling and had them playing ‘one last tune’ about three or four times.
Sean Griffiths is Mixmag's Deputy Editor, follow him on Twitter