Epizode is Vietnam’s premier electronic music festival playing host to headliners that ranged from Jamie Jones to Carl Craig.
Epizode might have become one of the most iconic festivals in dance music after just three editions, but the fourth edition still showed plenty of great evolutions and additions that made it even better than before. As soon as you arrive on Phú Quốc Island in Kiên Giang Province, you’re in love – the hot sun, the sand between your toes, the long, breathtaking beaches, the swaying palm trees, coconuts that occasionally fall from above, and the sunsets all win your hearts.
All round the festival site there are stunning art installations and sculptures, such as light towers, a Salvador Dali style elephant with huge long thin legs, and a giant bamboo being between the Main Stage and the Frisbee Stage. The Frisbee Stage has a UFO style thing hovering over it to keep the sound in, warm and punchy, and fittingly Ben UFO makes fine use of it one Sunday morning when he keeps it deep and trippy to an adoring crowd.
The Main Stage is hugely impressive this year, with new visuals, mapping and lighting that tickles your every synapse as it is manipulated in cahoots with the music. That music is non stop around the clock from the start to the end of this marathon. There are plenty unwon local who will impress you with their stashes takes on familiar genres, and of course a load of headliners who always come correct.
One set that stands out is from Berlin crate digger and label boss Bins, who serves up slick breaks, spaced out techno, minimal and futurist electro in the darkest hours of one night on the Volks Stage, which also hosts Nicholas Lutz before hand and then at 6pm Rhadoo, the Romanian minimalist who is in fine form.
When dancing, you will notice it isn’t all English people – there are faces and cultures and creeds from all over the planet, from USA, Switzerland, Romania, Australia, Russia, Israel and more, which makes this feel like a truly multi-cultural experience. People are welcoming and happy, and there is plenty of time to chill at the Temple area, a newly expanded food court, yoga and mediation area, as well as to explore all manner of amazing goods and merchandise at the Cultural Market, which is under a great bamboo like canopy.
One other unforgettable few hour period came on January 6th when Detroit ver held a showcase with Tijana T kicking off before and then only Moodymann came on with his rough dup house, disco and soul selections all oozing pure love and funk. After the Mahogany Music boss came Carl Craig, second wave techno titan and a man who knows how to serve up the most soulful and seductive techno in town.
Importantly, the environment is in real focus at Epizode. There are organised beach cleans so that no trace is left, and no plastic is dished out on site – all disposable tableware was made from recycled sugarcane and the merchandise shop offered bamboo cups and straws, and affordable pocket ashtrays.
All in all it is impressive that Epizode has still found ways to innovate and evolve this year. In fact it feels like the festival is only just getting started and yet it is already one of the best in terms of music, location, extra curricular activities and more. If you don’t get plan a trip there this year, frankly, you’re missing out.