Parco Dora, Turin
7 - 8 July
Techno and faded industry are natural companions.
Detroit is well-known as the birthplace of the music, which seemed to grow from the economic and societal decay caused by the explosion of globalised manufacture. In the UK, cities like Manchester and Glasgow can claim to have had as much an influence in techno’s spread as anywhere, and the former powerhouse of automotive manufacture, Turin, has in recent years begun to rival Italy’s bigger cities for these mechanised sounds of nightlife.
Unlike Detroit and many other cities like it, Turin has successfully managed to move on from its industrial past and begin to flourish through new means. It has spent heavily on infrastructure and worked hard to engender an encouraging atmosphere for music, culture and the arts – with events like Kappa Futur demonstrating the strategy’s effectiveness.
The setting for the festival encapsulates this progression smartly. On either side of a large patch of the concrete-banked Dora Riparia river is the Parco Dora, a former industrial complex that, on its north side where the festival takes place, is centred around the vast and skeletal frame of the former Vitali steel mill. The area has been regenerated as a public space, and between the beautifully preserved towers of steel, the lightly wooded parkland, skate parks and wide, open spaces it’s refreshing to see a city do such a great job of repurposing land such as this. The incessant branding of everything at the festival is a frustrating counterpoint, but in today’s climate it goes with the territory.
During Kappa Futur, though, this is no serene pocket of calm. Here 30,000 people, mostly Italian, descend on four huge stages, light dancing across them like spider webs of electricity and throbbing with hefty basslines and thudding kick drums. The line-up does not try and compete with fellow Turin event Club to Club in the variety stakes, but the chosen blend of Ibiza favourites and superstar-DJ types is clearly a big draw.
On the first day big room giants such as The Martinez Brothers and Adam Beyer would compete with tech-house royalty in Richy Ahmed and Solomun (who landed in hot water for playing a track sampling the Islamic call to prayer). Punters saved their biggest enthusiasm for one of Italian techno’s giants in Joseph Capriati, who cultivated a feverish atmosphere to the end.
On Sunday the festival clicked into place for real. Robert Hood and, later, Derrick May embodied the Detroit connection, the latter in particular straddling the line between classy restraint and weaponised shellers. Earlier, Motor City Drum Ensemble seemed to harness the Italian sun and his stage’s verdant surroundings best of all, all loved-up house and disco, with Shazam screens peppering the sea of lofted arms. Peggy Gou followed and fed her hungry audience liberal helpings of the jacking bangers they came for, Hardrive’s Deep Inside a classic example. As the night drew to a close Larry Heard and Jackmaster vied for the attentions of those looking to close out with a bang, though the stages’ close proximity meant catching both was easy. The Scottish DJ seemed to edge it though, tapping into the festival’s vibe with some tougher sounds.
Walking away for the last time it struck me how simple festivals can be. A beautiful or fitting location, a coherent line-up that people want and the sense of separation from regular life are pretty much all people need. While €6 for half a pint of lager and a card system that inevitably leaves you with money you can’t spend felt like missteps, Kappa Futur had the key tenets in spades. With the city’s success story so visible and present, and a crowd that danced with genuine fervour, it feels a heartfelt celebration of its brand of dance music.