Waha Festival 2018: 5 days of music and freedom in the forest

    Finding yourself seven hours deep into a lesson of hypnosis with Rhadoo, or relaxing in a handcrafted arm chair in front of an abstract art installation was no surprise at Waha festival.

    One weekend each year, the team at Waha arrive at the forest five hours from Bucharest a week prior to the festival, transforming the woodland into a village of escapism. The philosophy of the structures appears to be working with nature, building around and working with the trees rather than against them. From the DJ booths to the food stalls, everything is hand built.

    The vision at Waha appears to hold as much focus on art and design as it does music. Structural designers, visual artists, sound engineers, and yoga teachers all feature on the bill alongside the music bookings. The attention to detail across the forest was impeccable.

    Now in its seventh year in operation, the trust built amongst everyone involved in the festival is evident. Passionate music lovers gathered around the deep stage, patiently awaiting the highly anticipated Amorf live set, feasting on the sight of the impressive hardware set up like tourists at a museum.

    Freedom to roam around the rear of the booths, check out the setups and meet the artists highlighted this level of trust Waha have built with its clientele. It was this element of freedom at the festival that cemented unity across the site.

    The relaxed atmosphere created a special sense of patience, similar to the submissive nature associated with much of the Romanian music output. The 24-hour music policy brings a new sense of freedom to the weekend. Time is removed from the equation with this hedonistic formula, long DJ sets make room for flexibility and comfort in the experience. Five hours from Bucharest, at the top of a mountain surrounded by nature, relaxing by the camp fire, lay in a hammock or front left raving, everything feels timeless at Waha.

    Spread across five stages, a bold and diverse music policy runs from psy trance, to ambient to full acoustic bands. Forward thinking, empirical music is at the heart of the bookings. Whether it was sat under a tree listening to R107 + Subit, watching a live watercolour painting or locked into a minimal masterclass with Rhadoo, the music heard across the weekend was extraordinary.

    Stretching out over five hours on Saturday afternoon, Alexandra delivered arguably the set of the festival. Diverse yet convincing, the Melliflow label head composed a charming journey through her tastes. Opening with Leeon’s ‘Miles & Miles’, the mood was lifted on the deep stage. Session Victim’s ‘The Keyboarder’ produced a highlight of this initial period before casually drifting into a joyous UK garage section, eventually concluding with the signature electro-tinged Melliflow sound.

    A significant standout was the chill in space stage. Built from straw bales and firewood pallets, the inviting fort-like den brought a new dynamic to the festival. Pioneered by the audio-visual platform Experiment Intrinsic, artists are invited to showcase their sedative side. Downtempo and ambient music ran from dusk to dawn where punters could come to relax and recharge.

    Eager anticipation was present from the first to the last set of the festival. Praslesh filled the deep stage on the opening night, stretching out from 8pm-3am, the pair presented a more relaxed catalogue to great response from the appreciative crowd, both aware of the marathon 24-hour policy.

    Several artists playing later in the weekend arrived on Thursday to enjoy the weekend, floating around the festival enjoying everything on offer. Mature appreciation was present in the crowd, respecting artist privacy as well as the celebration of art and culture. The sheer passion for electronic music was inspiring for everyone.

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