It’s been a little over a week since I was fortunate enough to be knighted by Cercle’s first full-blown festival in front of the 500-year-old Chateau de Chambord. After reading so many news outlets criticizing the monumental event and taking some time to collect my thoughts, I thought it would only be right to share my incredibly positive experience of one of the most ambitious festivals to be pulled off. And yes, it was really in front of a French castle.
If you’ve been living under a rock perhaps you don’t know what Cercle does. Cercle is a live streaming media team dedicated to sharing amazing live performances and DJ sets from artists in incomparably unique venues and locations. Maybe you’ve seen Adriatique’s stunning set from atop the Alps, or even FKJ’s unbelievable performance on the salt flats. Cercle has an amazing vision and puts on insane concerts, and this one at the Chateau de Chambord was no exception. I arrived early enough to circumvent any lines to get into the festival, as so many complained about later in the day. Right away, one of the first artists, Jean Tonique, pulled the early birds onto the dance floor with the sweet sounds of French funk-house. Scattered rains couldn’t stop anyone from dancing. The nobility of it all motivated some to dress up in classy attire, others in the usual golden ponchos and unicorn onesies. The next duo Bon Entendeur picked up the energy with a proper upbeat disco and house set. Bringing in even more people to dance with timeless classics like “Funkytown” by Lipps Inc.
As the crowd grew, the dance floor spilled over out to the sides of the stage. That’s where Chambord x Cercle really shined. No matter where you were in the crowd, it was physically impossible to not have a stunning view of the Chateau de Chambord. It was almost easy to forget about it for a few minutes as you focused on the DJ’s music only to snap back into the reality of being surrounded by a breathtaking historical landmark. Popular French duo Polo & Pan took to the stage as the sun came out from behind the clouds and absolutely smashed their set. The two are famous for their unique bright sound and stage presence, as they snake charm in the warm light. Two hours of amazing French music flew by as the next artist prepared his live performance for sunset. At this exact moment, the absolute menace that is Stephan Bodzin took the stage and Chambord x Cercle 2019 took a dark turn.
What was once an innocent little dance party in front of a castle turned into the heaviest 6 hours of techno, house, and lasers. The German artist ripped into his analog synths and famous PO10 LiveController with a jaw-dropping 2-hour set. As the sun set, Chateau de Chambord took on a new identity, lit with hundreds of lasers and RGB spotlights. Bodzin’s dramatic build-ups with endless reverb and echos brought the crowd to another level as they dance on their tippy-toes awaiting the drop. We had entered castle rave mode. Finally, the man we had all been waiting for, Solomun, took to the decks and commenced his masterful 4-hour set. Playing anything from house to techno, he brought everyone together for a darker than usual, but phenomenal set. He looked like a king in front of his loyal subjects. I kept falling back on the thought, who allowed this? What did the email look like asking permission to do this? Don’t I owe more money than my 35 euro ticket?
Sure there were a few hiccups along the way for Cercle. That will always be the case with any festival, but don’t let the critiques from whiney festival goers discredit Cercle’s monumental first festival. I cannot wait for what they plan next, and I am incredibly thankful to the people of Chambord for taking a chance and hosting such a festival. A huge thank you to the DJs, stage and lighting teams, and the people at Cercle for following through with this crazy vision.
Be sure to catch the first 2 hours of Solomun’s set on Youtube. You might start to understand why I’m still in shock…