Sensation Spain 2011 with Fedde Le Grand, Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano: best party ever?
Sensation White is a musical experience unlike any festival, club, or rave that I’ve ever been to. 13,000 people adhered to the strict dress code — “Be part of the night, dress in white” — and piled into Barcelona’s Palau Sant Jordi to experience just exactly what Sensation Innerspace had to offer. I traveled to Spain for the weekend to meet up with friends studying abroad, and the timing happened to coincide perfectly with the all white affair. What resulted was a night jam packed with emotion, music, and a whole lot of sweaty Europeans moving in unison decked out in white jumpsuits. Keep reading to hear an account of what may be my best rave ever.
I’ve been to European clubs before, but Sensation was my first festival-type show outside the States. My expectations were high given its legendary reputation, and upon arrival to the Palau Sant Jordi, I knew that this was serious business. Built in 1990, the structure was used in the 1992 Summer Olympic Games that took place in Barcelona, and it was one of the most beautiful concert venues in one of the most unique settings I’ve ever been to. The lights and effects brought in for the show worked perfectly and gave it an elegance and class that could rival some of our favorite clubs in America.
In the VIP “DELUXE” area, posh white carpets were laid over the standard stadium flooring and upscale food offerings and a white chocolate fountain could be found just a few steps from the main floor. One ingenious move by organizers was that you could only pay for things with “SENS,” a fake currency only accepted at Sensation events. One SENS is the equivalent two Euros, and they are sold in sticks of five tabs that rip apart. They even price items in even amounts so you get stuck with one lone SENS. A small beer or water bottle was two SENS and a cocktail was four, for example, so unless you wanted a small piece of candy, the left over SENS was reason enough to exchange more.
The main arena had a glowing lotus-shaped DJ booth in the immediate center that radiated in different colors and even rotated around the rectangular arena (though it stopped after a turn or two). Two smaller lotus flowers were on either side, blending from red to blue to yellow and shooting towers of water into the sky from their centers. A labyrinth of white balloons hung from the ceiling, rising and falling slowly to the music, often hanging at uneven levels while emanating light in an equally graceful array of colors. Two circular projection screens floated at either end of the arena framed in gold like giant mirrors, displaying close-ups of the DJs providing the sounds. The production value was quite impressive — it had an artistic quality to it moreso than any large-scale shows I’ve been to. It was similar to the art installations that have now become associated with Insomniac productions like EDC and Nocturnal, though instead of separating the art from the music, they starred together as the main attraction.
Though this Sensation’s lineup was on the weaker side in my opinion, the music was really secondary to the greater experience overall. Spanish DJ Wally Lopez got things going at 11PM before Sharam warmed up the decks for Fedde Le Grand. Much of the opening was a pleasureful blur, with bopping house tracks and an uptempo vibe. Fedde spun a 90 minute set of bouncey house crowd-pleasers, opening with “So Much Love” and dropping other DA favorites like Mark Knight’s remix of “You Got The Love” and a cool bootleg of Cirez D’s “On Off” with Dirty Money’s “Coming Home.” Fedde’s set wasn’t the first time we heard “You Got the Love,” that night, however, since an unknown female vocalist delivered the same emotional lyrics as she emerged from the top of the flower stage and sang it through a circular curtain of water. It was one of the most memorable things I’ve ever seen at a music show, and set the tone for an amazing night of moving house music and intense raging in a cavernous space filled with 13,000 of your newest friends.
Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano took over after Fedde wrapped up, and the duo did an excellent job keeping the entire place rocking with a string of monster bootlegs and big room tracks. They opened with their latest banger “Tribeca” bootlegged with the “Rolling In The Deep” accapella, and dropped SHM-favorite “Otherside 2010” along with a cool bootleg of Nicky Romero’s “Flash” remix with Pendulum’s “The Island.” The most surprising mashup of the night, however, had to be their bootleg of “Calling” with “Louder than Words,” a combination dropped by Afrojack at Electric Zoo just over a month ago. Funkagenda’s 2010 monster “Astana” got played as well, which motivated us enough to remind you about it again since it’s so awesome.
Funkagenda – Astana (Original Mix)
They also managed to squeeze in their own “C’Mon” remix before a bootleg of Thomas Gold’s “Blow Up” with Avicii’s “Swede Dreams.” They even dropped the phenomenal Eric Prydz remix of Faithless’ “Not Going Home. Needless to say, SJ and RM absolutely killed it until 4AM, and nearly everyone around us was completely enraptured by the relentless bass kick and melodic synths of the entire set. I have never really thought much of the duo’s music and this was my first time seeing them live, but I was blown away by their chemistry together behind the decks and their strong selection of tracks I had to immediately download for later listening.
Tiesto and Diplo feat. Busta Rhymes – C’Mon (Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano Remix)
Faithless – Not Going Home (Eric Prydz Remix)
It’s hard to articulate the exact differences between Sensation in Europe and the standard American festival or large-scale event, but there was definitely a much different vibe. The furiously thrashing bodies, outrageous outfits of pacifiers and fuzzy boots, and obnoxiously overt drug use that classify American “raves” was not present here, instead replaced with a much more controlled, emotional sort of tie to the music. There was certainly a good amount of intensity and the energy levels were astronomical until the event sadly came to a close at 5AM, but the different emotional feeling surely stemmed from Europe’s longer-standing relationship with house music. It’s almost as if EDM is just in its honeymoon stages in the US, whereas it’s more matured and well aged across the Atlantic.
My first Sensation experience was, in a word, sensational. The music was phenomenal and fitting, the stage and lights were innovative and unique, and every member of the large crowd contributed to the amazing intensity of the Palau. My crew spent most of our time in the stands rather than on the floor, and that didn’t even matter. If anything, it got me even more excited for the next arena show I’ll be at in the same vein; I don’t think anyone knows exactly how big Masquerade Motel Madison Square Garden is going to be.
Don’t forget that you can still get a taste of what it was like to be at Sensation Barcelona since the live sets were all recorded and are now available for your downloading pleasure. If you’ve ever been to Sensation and can relate to my observations, let us know in the comments below!
Also, check out this post event movie starring Daniel and Juan Sanchez who closed out the night above!
Images Via: Sensation (Facebook)