2021 edition of Closer’s Brave! Factory Festival felt just like home

    The view behind the Cement stage (yes, it was the lake there). Photo by Evgenia Gapon

    In case you don’t know – Brave! Factory Festival is the biggest line of events by the team of Closer. Done for the fourth time on the location of Metrobud factory it already has its own legacy and a bunch of top sets and lives from the past. Regulars will easily recall performances by Bejenec in 2017, Apollonia in 2018, Jane Fitz b2b Carl H in 2019 and… nobody in 2020 (you know why, right?). This two-years pause caused a lot of worries. For example – if the line-up will be transported from the previous year (spoiler – by 90%) and even more important – if the festival won’t get lost among other new big players on the Kyiv scene (spoiler – it didn’t). But, over 10000 people, that were dancing on the six stages of Brave! during two days, threw all those worries away. Here’s how it all went.

    People are chilling near the Topka stage. Photo by Evgenia Gapon

    There were two options to start the gig perfectly – Kalabrese & Rumpelorchester on the Cement stage (if you’re more into listening) or local LOW Party heroes Pavel Plastikk & Philipp Markovich on the Depo stage – our main destination at this festival (if you’re more into dancing). I did both. The mood was set.

    The first big thing scheduled at this festival was the performance of DMX Krew at the Cement stage. Remembering his live at Strichka Festival a few years ago it was a little bit scary to imagine what he could do with sound this big. He perfectly balanced between all kinds of classic electro sound and all types of signature DMX Krew sound, sometimes adding a pinch of 4/4 tracks – that’s what he did. The crowd went nuts, when his biggest recent banger was played in that long, special version. “What Happened To Peace” never sounded so great, probably.

    Then it was time to relocate to the Depo again – The Ghost were in full swing. Just as at their recent gig in Kyiv at Maslyana, they cooked their crowd perfectly. When I was on the train to Kyiv I finally checked that set by Nicolas Lutz at Phonoteque in 2019 – you know, that one with 6 hours, 0 boring tracks and a million “Track IDs”? Change the number 6 to 3 and replace the dark vibe of Lutz with the bright mood of The Ghost – and here you go. Easily one of the best sets at the festival.

    Night at the Depo stage. Photo by Tymur Bezlyudnyy

    Tobi Neumann continued the mood of The Ghost perfectly, adding some more energy to it with tracks, like “You Make Me Function” by Cube 40. He started the process of transforming Depo into some version of Lesnoy Prichal, which was followed by the rising sun, two b3bs (signature thing of this festival) – Roman K/Igor Glushko/Vera Logdanidi and SE62/Vova KLK/Mykyta later, with the performance of MoMa Ready between them. Until…

    ERIS duo during the daytime at the Depo stage (probably putting another banger). Photo by Tymur Bezlyudnyy

    Until the ERIS duo came and “attacked the dancefloor like a bulldozer”. That’s not my words – it’s from the track they played and if you don’t believe me – in just a few tracks, the whole (whole!) dancefloor was pumping fists in the air (on a video below). On a “house” dancefloor. During the daytime. That’s how powerful was their mixture of all types of house-orientated broken beats with euphoric melodies inside them.

    They were followed by two more b3bs – B:MB: (FKA Bambu)/M.Tkachenko/Dima Sokolovsky and Timur Basha/Shakolin/Borys. And if the first one sounded interesting – the second one sounded scary, because every one of them is capable of destroying any dancefloor, and we’re talking about triple that power. There were hours when you could be sure that every single track would be as great as the previous one. Or even better. Damn, they almost made me forget about Cristi Cons playing on the other stage…

    But, one more important thing – before that second b3b Maayan Nidam took the Depo crowd on a very nice planned trip. Nothing really unusual or unexpected – but definitely one of the best hours of the festival. She managed to balance between tracks on 118 and 140 BPM easily, without being too calm or too heavy. And that edit of “Psycho Killer”

    The second morning of the festival – it was the time of Jane Fitz, of course. This time she was announced at the very last moment and it seemed that some people were ready to boycott the festival without her. After that gorgeous second b3b she decided to reload everything and went from 0 to 100 in… maybe, six tracks. After that it was time for the sorcery that can’t really be described. The heavy artillery of old trance records (sometimes superslowed), some reissues, like KMA60 Rezpektiva (won’t tell you which one) or some new ones (like that one from Tofistock). The way she takes those that are hiding and makes you dance when you thought you were out of fuel completely should be officially patented. Because someone might steal it one day.

    It was the latest scheduled slot of the festival, but don’t you even think that it was the last one. After that Maayan Nidam and Timur Basha took it to the grand finale, keeping the dancers until around 16:00. And only after that the thing was finished. Depo, as usual, closed everything…

    Daytime at Depo. Photo by Tymur Bezlyudnyy

    But there were some more interesting things besides Depo. For example, the Topka stage. One of my friends made a joke about a new club in Kyiv, built and opened on that weekend – why not, if Closer can throw a real lake with a bridge on a territory of the factory, why can’t they build one more club. Kidding, of course, but it was another place of great performances on that weekend.

    Starting with – a little bit unexpected – Gapon. Part of the Closer Record Store (with Shakolin, wait for our Diggin’ Deep feature with them, btw!) was a bit of an underdog in that huge line-up, but what a set it was. All types of UK bass with a direction into long wobble basslines of 2-step. One of the rare example of “UK” sound during the festival. Another two were Tysk (grime project with Alex Pervukhin of Laconica) and b2b of Alex Savage and Anna Haleta (usually known for electro, but this time it was all types of broken stuff inside their set).

    Karine, Noizar & Pahatam in full effect. Photo by Evgenia Gapon

    I won’t be telling you about Kode9, because you, probably, don’t like juke and footwork like I do, but definitely will tell you about another monster b3b between Karine, Noizar and Pahatam after the Komponente/Kurilo live. Already sounds like trouble – and it was one hell of a set. What Timur Basha, Borys and Shakolin did to Depo, they did to Topka a little bit earlier. A room full of screaming and clapping people all the way, a lot of rare tracks and a Real Deal Records’ T-shirt on Pahatam – is there a better combination for a Sunday evening?

    That b3b was followed by a crisp and solid live of zolaa. and by a little more aggressive one by Victor B (FKA Vybukhivka). Then it was time for sets – b2b by Trippsy & Sasha Zlykh & a long journey by Cristi Cons.

    This one is just for you to understand how the Angar stage looked like. Photo by Evgenia Gapon

    Another special mention should be the set by Recid on the Angar stage, that was dedicated to techno. Despite his timeslot (warm-up of moguls Karenn), his set was quite ERIS-esque and sometimes even Mayaan Nidam-ish. One of my favorite DJs in UA took his selection a mile away from the 140+ bpm parade of kicks, playing everything he wanted – from some broken beats to 5 minutes of guitar melody (sic!) over the beautiful percussion. And samples from the actual Kyiv underground announcements was probably the greatest possible homage to the place where the festival was held.

    I’m leaving out the Tokar and Garden stages – they were equally great but Trommel is not really the place for music like that. Just as art objects – there were a lot of them, as usual. What I can’t leave unmentioned is this engagement. A perfect place for the things like this, isn’t it?


    It was a very comfy festival, must say – a lot of people wrote and spoke about that feeling of freedom you got after passing the entrance. Great thing, considering the security issues with the recently held ICKPA Festival by the Bassiani crew in Kyiv and the situation in Ukraine in general. Too bad, that it could be the last one on this location of Metrobud factory – there are rumors about some houses that will be built around there soon. Sad thing, because you kinda get used to all these locations and names already. But since the Closer crew love to build new things as much they love to play rare music, they’ll probably take some time to respawn and then will start to look for another great place in Kyiv to turn into a location you wouldn’t want to leave.

    Like, you know, home.

    A walk after the dancing marathon. Photo by Evgenia Gapon

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