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Evening Standard – Kappa FuturFestival review: a 10-year celebration that lived up to the occasion

By July 10, 2023July 27th, 2023Press

The Italian festival drew crowds from around the world for three days of dancing

Fine art and techno music are not two things instantly associated with each other – I can’t say I’ve ever managed to put Pablo Picasso and Peggy Gou into one sentence.

And yet, with Kappa FuturFestival, Turin, a city rich in artistic and political history, transforms into a dance haven for revellers from across the world – and with good reason, the likes of Carl Cox, Swedish House Mafia and Peggy Gou were all headlining festivities this year.

The festival takes place at Parco Dora, a former Michelin plant, with it’s industrial history still visible — steel beams and metal shelters are dotted sporadically throughout the site. It celebrated its tenth edition this year, and the celebratory atmosphere swept through the eager crowds, who braved heavy rain on Friday for Swedish House Mafia, the first headliner of the festival weekend.

The dance trio, made up of superstar DJ’s Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso, were a bold choice for event organisers. The supergroup are one of the biggest acts in electronic dance music (EDM), with their mega-hit Don’t You Worry Child still burning fresh in the minds of dance music fans.

EDM isn’t generally the kind of music that appeals to partygoers at Kappa Futur — the masses tend to travel to Turin for the tropical house and thumping techno spread across the line-up. Swedish House Mafia adjusted their sound accordingly, with an exclusive set made solely for the festival. As well as editing their biggest hits, including One (Your Name) and Greyhound into house-infused bops, they threw underground classics like The Chemical Brothers’ Hey Boy Hey Girl into the mix, to rapturous crowds.

Things didn’t hit fever-pitch until Saturday though, a day packed with star-power — Fatboy Slim took to the main stage during a baking-hot Turin afternoon, barefoot and all, churning out fan favourites including his classics Right Here, Right Now and Praise You, to roars from his audience. The renowned DJ seemed to be having the most fun out of everyone, regularly leaving the decks to dance along with the crowd.

It was Peggy Gou, though, who drew the biggest audience of the festival, with the main stage packed to the rafters, and fans competing for the best spot to see her. Gou played a heavier set, with thumping bass, true to Italian dance taste. It was her latest track, however, that received the most love. It Goes Like (NANANA) has been racing up the charts in the UK, already becoming her first top 10 in the country, and its infectious nature swept the crowd, too. They kept chanting “NANANA” long after the DJ finished her set, their yells reverberating around the industrial settings of Parco Dora.

Legendary British DJ Carl Cox would be the final headliner of the weekend, with the selector receiving the superstar treatment with his own stage for the day. He did not disappoint, churning out his typically energetic catalogue of tracks, with intervals of interactions with the crowd, and taking to the mic for his signature “OH YES OH YES” shouts. Cox himself wasn’t ready to stop partying either, carrying on affairs at Turin’s super club Centralino, where he would appear for a surprise set at the festival’s afterparty. An edit of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams provided a euphoric moment in the packed out club.

Battling through swarms of people to top up cashless wristbands proved a major sticking point at the festival. At times, it felt like a headliner was performing in the top up tents with the size of the queues — seriously, what is the logic using card machine to top up a wrist band, just to buy a drink? Waiting times for top ups were shorter through the Art + Techno package, which provided a variety of perks including a separate top-up station in the VIP lounge, though this would mean sacrificing some of your favourite sets to walk back to the lounge for the convenience.

If you have cash to spare, though, it’s a package worth considering, offering a guided walkthrough in one of Italy’s most historic cities, with tours around famous galleries including Turin’s Mazzoleni, as well as five-star hotel accommodation and transfers around the city and to the festival — a top choice for those who want a proper holiday experience alongside an elite dance music showcase, though it will come at a price.

Regardless of those teething issues, the festival musically lived up to its reputation, on a special ten-year milestone for Turin’s landmark event, bringing together everyone from London to Melborne, Liverpool to Miami and everywhere in-between, for a techno extravaganza that is quickly placing itself among the likes of Creamfields and Tomorrowland as a must-see for dance music fans internationally.