Large-scale techno events seem to be working quite well in Italy these days (Movement and Club to Club in Torino, for example), despite the widespread lack of understanding from local politicians. Time Warp's maiden Italian venture, which took place in Milan, saw that trend continue, though not without a few logistical problems. People were forced to walk (what seemed) few kilometers from the metro stop to the entrance of the trade fair, and back in the morning. Only a few bars and restaurants were operating on the festival premises and alcohol ran out early (even before the 2 AM stop imposed by lawmakers). That said, praise should go to the German-imported Time Warp organization, as audio and visuals were not inferior to the quality I witnessed in Mannheim last April.
The main stage dance floor was full by the time Chris Liebing took the decks early on with his Traktor-equipped laptop, with huge whooping cheers erupting as soon as he began. With hands raised in the air, those in attendance enjoyed his energetic hard techno set, particularly when flashes of heavy bass shone through, the Monoloc remix of "Noise B" by Alex Bau being a prime example. Next came the smile and the technical dexterity of Carl Cox, who kicked off with Len Faki's rework of Dustin Zahn's "Stranger to Stability." Cox's set was strung together by constant thumping and rolling bass, the Englishman sweating copiously over his four CDJs.
Photo credit: Andrea Piccinato
After moving to the second large stage, I caught the opening tracks of Loco Dice—a favorite DJ among Italian clubbers—who subsequently pushed some big Ibiza-style house tracks throughout the remainder of his performance. Closer to 3 AM, excitement (and fatigue) grew as Sven Vath's set-time approached. The Cocoon boss appeared onstage with his arms outstretched, and the crowd erupted yet again. After a short intro, he played Âme's remix of Osunlade's "Envision" and proceeded to deliver a fluid chunk of techno and vocal house, playing a slew of crowd-pleasing classics. Throughout his appearance, the emphasis on visuals seemed to be just as high as it was on the music. The guys controlling the colorful creations on the massive screens adjacent to the stage appeared to keep everyone interested.
Outside, on a smaller stage, Magda was dishing out tech house with a funky and acid twist. Meanwhile, back inside, Minus label head Richie Hawtin was well into his two-and-a-half-hour closing set. As time progressed, the crowd gradually thickened, and Hawtin kept the heavy bass rolling while introducing random broken vocals every now and then. As he played his last record, "D-Clash" by Bryan Zentz, the visuals on stage reproduced the Italian flag and a huge "Grazie Italia." (Perhaps a sign that Time Warp Italy is here to stay?) Hawtin then climbed on the decks, took a picture of the ecstatic crowd with his iPhone and flew to Ibiza to close the season at Amnesia.