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LIVE REVIEW: Sven Väth @ Hilltop, Goa

The Cocoon boss returns to Goa after 30 years

2021 Mar 02     
2 Bit Thugs

India's 2021 festival season is getting underway post-lockdown

As one of India's most beloved party destinations, Goa attracts huge crowds each year with its summer beach holiday vibes. After the massive success of its legendary three-day psy-trance rave Hilltop Festival the weekend before, which had featured the likes of Ace Ventura, Tristan and Greg from Highlight Tribe, now it was time to resurrect India's techno scene by inviting veteran German DJ/producer Sven Väth to take over the decks at Goa's prime iconic party venue.

Rebel Alliance's announcement that Papa Sven was coming to Asia went viral among fans of electronic music immediately. An absolute visionary, techno pioneer and the instigator behind the Cocoon label concept, Sven kicked off his 2021 Indian tour at Sunburn Superclub in Hyderabad on 19 February, a day before his grand entry on the Indian shores in Goa.

When winter hits the northern hemisphere, people from across the globe convene in the tropical warmth of Hilltop Goa for its legendary parties. Even during these unprecedented times, the dancefloor did not fail to fill up with a mixed crowd of Goa's residential global urban nomads, old school hippies and excited Indian tourists, who flocked to Hilltop from all over India in big numbers, eager to see the evolution of electronic music. Attendees were teleported to a free-flowing, Ibiza-style open air venue by the mesmerising décor, with the DJ booth filled with plants hanging upside-down, and diamond-shaped LED installations, UV-painted walls and illuminated palm trees everywhere you looked.

Russian DJ MuLine played a fine opening set, although the crowd was only gradually building up. Another female DJ, Wildkat, served groovy melodic beats but it was left to Maurizio Schmitz from Berlin to warm up the dancefloor for the Cocoon boss. Maurizio captivated the crowd with his gritty sounds and compelling take on rave and techno. After that, heavy head-banging uncompromising techno was unleashed on the hungry party-goers and there was no stopping till the very end. 

Hugely anticipated, anxiously awaited: the underground, raw and crude sound of vinyl tantalised the fans and kept them craving for more as Sven's mastery behind the decks caused shrieks of joy and outbursts of ecstasy on the pulsating dancefloor. Enhanced by the hypnotising fire show and LED dancers, the spine-tingling melodies and outrageous basslines featured a slew of fresh releases as well as classics such as Higher State of Consciousness by Josh Wink, Connection by Raxon, Deadbug by Dubfire and Strategy 1 by Slam, Obscure Shape & SHDW.

Papa Sven came well prepared with an arsenal of heavy lifters, and spinning vinyl was simply child-play for him. A true master at work and a great pleasure to watch! This living legend enjoyed himself to the max and was so overjoyed to see the happily raving crowd, who responded enthusiastically to each of his tracks, that he simply continued blasting till the end, extending his set to an almost five-hour eargasm – the undisputed bad boy of techno in India, the one and only Arjun Vagale, was supposed to close the party, but in the end that honour went to Sven. 

Sven Väth is something of a Goa pioneer, having performed at the most popular parties in Goa in the early 90s. His return to one of his favourite playgrounds after 30 years was nothing less than an historical experience, and with the German techno don also headlining a secret beach party on 26 February, as well as headlining the Bangalore edition of Dutch festival DGTL on 27 February, he truly made an indelible mark on India's music community on this latest visit.  

"It was a true honor and a pleasure to host Sven back in Goa after 30 years. We hope not to wait another 30 until his next visit!" said Rebel Alliance founder/owner Valrun Talreja after the event had finished. 

Needless to say, Goa continues to be a hub of underground techno and trance music, as it has been since the late 80s. It seems like this beautiful southern part of India will remain a torch-bearer and powerhouse for electronic music for years to come.

Words: Agnes Klos Pics: Lloyd Fletcher (Butcher Apparel)





Tags: Sven Väth, Cocoon, Hilltop, Goa, Rebel Alliance, DJ MuLine, Wildkat, Maurizio Schmitz, Arjun Vagale, DGTL, trance, techno, festival