Held in mid-October, Budapest's Telekom Bónusz Festival is steadily building a reputation for delivering quality electronic music and interesting, well-curated lineups. Headlining this year was Richie Hawtin's Plastikman 1.5 live show. When the time came for Berlin-based producer to start his set, the main room was thick with the sparkle of mobiles, flashing cameras and glow sticks. As an elliptical screen produced the first waves of sound, the crowd exploded with an obligatory whoop, repeated when Hawtin's silhouette aside a live console became visible, giving way to the trembling basslines of "Ping Pong." The combination of minimalist video animation, strobe lights and the crisp techno created a prefect multimedia experience, leaving the crowd sweaty.
One hour later, after everyone in attendance seemingly all thought it was over, Hawtin appeared from behind the video wall and stood on stage with a MIDI controller, dropping a very filtered version of "Spastik" to end his set. It didn't take long before Carl Cox then arrived, opening with a looped beat that made continuous reference to his name. Delivering wave after wave of warm techno, Cox made constant use of his microphone and exhibited his usual good mood from behind the decks, going on to drop "Make You Freak" by Trevor Rockcliffe & Joe Brunning.
In a smaller but still heaving room, Sasha was delivering his trademark progressive house coupled with more contemporary selections. His performance was deep and focused, with plenty of atmospheric pads and melodies, squeezing in David August's "Hamburg Is For Lovers," Maceo Plex's "Can't Leave You" and Scuba's "Adrenalin."
Meanwhile, in the fourth room, the electro supplied by Crookers and Dada Life presented an opportunity for a (short) break from house and techno. In room two, Joris Voorn was on stage, dropping his "Chase the Mouse" in a set that was predominantly house-oriented, regularly playing with the tempo and hyperactively adjusting bass and filters. In the main arena Adam Beyer was not disappointing the hordes of techno fans in attendance, keeping the energy high courtesy of cuts like Gary Beck's remix of A. Mochi's "C2M," spinning to a crowd that included those in Drumcode t-shirts and fancy dress, faded face paint and still-perfect makeup.
On my way out to the metro station I was cheered by people on the street, passed all-night bars, casinos, Soviet-style concrete buildings and empty parks covered in the morning dew. By 6 AM the metro was packed with old ladies going to the city's thermal spas, meaning that tired festivalgoers either stood up or lay on the floor. Budapest can surely throw a party, as I told a group of drunk Hungarian lads on the USSR-made metro wagon. They probably had no idea of what I said, but they answered "Welcome!"