Neversea brings hundreds of thousands to Romania for four days of beachside revelry [Review]
Romania’s Neversea Music Festival made its highly anticipated comeback this year, along with its most impressive lineup to date in 2022. For three years, Neversea organizers have waited to bring hundreds of thousands of ravers back to the beaches of Constanta, Romania. This summer, with COVID cases decreasing and festival dance floors reopening, Romania’s cultural merits were on full display, up against a stellar lineup of artists for an incredibly well-programmed four-day weekend. As a result, one of the weekend’s top highlights was—believe it or not—the people-watching. Enjoying the stark differences between European and American festival culture was an absolute pleasure to absorb, amid Romania’s gorgeous beachside backdrop.
Billed as the largest beach festival in Europe, Neversea took place over four days and nights, packing six different stages with throngs of talent. The massive main stage brought in top-caliber headliners including Alesso, Alan Walker, Nicky Romero, ZHU, and many more. Equally impressive on the side stages included the likes of Paul Kalkbrenner, Jamie Jones, Netsky, and Borgore, making for a well-rounded roster that offered at least one set for everyone, if not many more. Without ever breaching top-heavy territory, Neversea did a commendable job of balancing the lineup with local Romanian artists for the early hours of the festival. Because the event didn’t end till sunrise, many Romanian artists were able to play nighttime sets equipped with incredible production rigs. These moments felt like they would be more rare at a stateside event, albeit equally as appreciated by attendees nonetheless. Clever programming allowed for the festival to show off its host country’s musical culture to attendees visiting from other countries in a warm, spirited fashion.
While fan-favorites like Alesso, Nicky Romero, Tujamo, and W&W were guaranteed to impress, one of the weekend’s high points was the uniquely palpable energy radiating from the various side stages, each curating their own vibrant atmospheres. Having some of the best times of the weekend at the bass stage, Netsky, Borgore, and Dirtyphonics brought a crowd-leveling hysteria that remained a constant throughout the weekend at the event’s bass stage. Truly a headbanger’s ball, Neversea’s bass stage was one of the weekend’s most pleasant surprises—and not for the faint of heart.
The house and techno stage at Neversea had some of the biggest names in tech, including Jamie Jones, Paul Kalkbrenner, Amelie Lens, and Nina Kraviz, and perhaps one of the most polarizing differences between Romania’s dance culture and the tastes that define America, and some of western Europe’s dance hotspots’ genre preferences. Techno and tech house giants populated what wound up being one of the smaller stages that Neversea had to offer. At first it seemed strange, though, over the course of the extended weekend, it became clear that Romanians’ penchant for bass and big room logically would take a more center-stage position across the weekend’s programming. Though, the smaller crowds of techno revelers didn’t miss a beat, and the energy emanating from that particular corner of Neversea was quite profound.
Neversea was flush full of what felt like small, intimate moments among an ocean of ravers. For instance, on the way back to the hotel on the final night of the expansive four-day affair, Korolova was caught playing a hit from Afterlife‘s catalog that stopped onlookers in their tracks. The smaller stages lent themselves to countless moments like that, which amounted to possibly the best element of the weekend. Comparative to a larger American property, a la Insomniac for example, Neversea was far different than the prototypical American music festival. Swapping rave gear for dusky club attire, and cigarette smoke for saccharine vape clouds, even the socializing among attendees felt unique to Neversea’s Romanian beachside framing. But even in comparison to some of its European peers, countless things about Neversea still felt like undiscovered territory, even with close to 300,000 in attendance. Certainly a must-try at least once, Neversea stands out in 2022 as one of the crown jewels of the European festival circuit, with a distinctive atmosphere that stimulates at every turn.
Featured image: Alive Coverage