Review: Neversea Festival is a celebration of offline life

today21/07/2023 5

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Across July 6 to 9, Constanța’s beach in Romania was the location of the fifth edition of the biggest seaside festival in Europe. A record number of 277,000 visitors flocked to Neversea Festival, immersing themselves in a celebration of music diversity and dancing to the performances of 150 talented DJs and artists. Drawing inspiration from the ebb and flow of the shore, this anniversary edition illuminated the ability of people in the digital age to unite and celebrate life offline, together.

Picture yourself on a beautiful beach in Romania, surrounded by five stages playing over 50 shades of musical genres—a liquid golden combination that sends a healthy dose of shivers down your spine. With a festival of this size, the Neversea beach invites you to explore and lose yourself. It is up to you to fully immerse yourself and allow the rhythm of the music to guide you towards magical encounters with unexpected stages challenging your personal line-up. Get hypnotized at the Daydreaming stage with its exceptional ocean view, where you can experience transformative musical waves from talented artists like Arkadyan and Dubfire. Dance with strangers in the intimate Dreamy Whales tent, accommodating only 100 people, as uplifting house music fills the air. And don’t forget to celebrate Romanian artists at The Ark stage. With all this variety, it becomes truly special to realize that from sunset to sunrise, all stages are filled with the same loving energy.

The main stage was the compass of the festival where legends like Don Diablo, J Balvin, and Lost Frequencies set the roadmap of the day, navigating the crowd with their musical decisions. Where Lost Frequencies brought something special for this show by only playing original music on a special stage designed for Neversea fans, J Balvin honoured Latina women in a “Caribbean flow”: a flow he was surprised to find in Romania.

Unlike its older brother UNTOLD, Neversea takes place in a different environment where the Romanian shore creates a wave of calmness that inspires artists to let loose. Don Diablo explains: “Once you’re out on that stage and feel the love from the crowd: it’s something that feels like home”. The result? A main stage that is figuratively and literally on fire, fuelled by talent who give the performances of their lifetimes. Not from feeling pressured to do so, but it from a safety bubble that sparks miracles to happen, with Lil Pump a fine example. He takes off his mask and shows his face while paying tribute to a departed friend through a song, taking a moment to thank each and everyone personally who made the effort to come out to the show by saying: “Live your life, you really only live once.”

Neversea positions you at the front line of Romanian culture and lets you experience the festival through a local’s eyes. Talking to Valery, a Neversea fan who lives in Bucharest, it became clear that for Romanians this festival makes them feel nostalgic. She elaborates: “Romanians usually spend their weekends at the seaside, and by coming to Neversea personal memories are recognised that reconnect you to the culture while connecting with artists you long to see.” She continues: “Romanian culture is about loving, understanding and having fun. Neversea unites all through music.” This energy is truly put to practice by entering the Balkaniada stage where you are welcomed with open arms to the beating heart of their traditions by dancing the ‘Poarga’ (a national folk dance) to the sounds of Romania.

In the digital age, a present festival experience is a utopian desire as people too often prioritize the need to share online above the act to connect offline. Neversea proves to be a contagious offline oxygen, where the sand under fans’ feet grounds them to the essentials of nature. The absence, or minimal use, of phones in the crowd to document the shows made everyone not only more present, but also able to breathe again. The dominant image is friend groups having fun together again, mosh pitting during their favourite drop and holding hands on their way to the next stage. Neversea is a spiritual musical journey, helping fans feel alive by connecting with the energy of the festival, causing all rebel hearts celebrate life offline, together.

Romée Avril van der Veen is a freelance writer, follow her on Instagram

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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