Written by Tighearnan O’Neill

On Saturday 27th of August we had the pleasure of attending the Cocoon event at Ebrington Square in Derry, Northern Ireland. The Ebrington site was formerly an army base but it has been recently transformed into a public space with an appealing vista of the River Foyle which intersects the city. From the site one can look across the river to Derry’s west-bank where the city centre is located. The site is easily accessible, due in part to the recently built Peace Bridge, which allows pedestrians to cross the river in a matter of minutes.

Ebrington Square’s normally relaxed and unassuming air was metamorphosed by 5000 ravers, an impressive stage complete with a video wall, lights/sound and a healthy dose of Techno. To say the Derry masses know how to party is a slight understatement, you’d be hard pushed to find a crowd who are more up for it almost anywhere.

Cocoon Derry featured a stellar line-up comprising of; Sven Väth, Josh Wink, Christian Burkhardt, Dana Ruh and local boys John Morrison and Ryan Monaghan. The excitement and anticipation for this event was palpable – it literally has been the talk of the town for the past few months.

We arrived on site at the tail-end of Dana Ruh’s set. Her mix of solid, chugging Techno keeps things ticking along nicely, building an atmosphere for what was to come. By 6pm the square is packing up and Christian Burkhardt has taken over the controls. He delivers a set of deep rolling Techno, thunderous ass shaking grooves and the occasional acid arpeggio.

Next on the decks is US Techno legend Josh Wink. The mood onsite intensifies as Wink lays down a cracking two hour set of classic sounding Techno tracks with relentless drum rolls and hard hitting snares. He drops productions like Hexagon – Hx2gm. Think classic 90’s Techno with a modern edge. He intersects his set with breakbeat tracks, like his own productions Shoelaces and the timeless classic Higher State of Consciousness.
The atmosphere peaks throughout the incessant build of Higher State of Consciousness causing a sea of hands in the air and smiling faces. It’s a track that sounds as good today as when it was first produced 20 years ago.

As dusk turns to night, we notice Sven Väth, clad in black, standing enigmatically in the wings side stage, perhaps taking in the atmosphere and gauging what tracks might work in his set later that evening. At 9pm Josh Wink’s set draws to a close and his stage rider is wheeled off to make way for Sven’s two Technics 1210 turntables and mixer.

There is an appreciative roar from the crowd as Sven Väth steps up to the decks. Although diminutive in stature, Väth is a mountain of a man in terms of his stage presence. He opens his set with the anthemic Redshape – Tel Aviv, with the crowd going apeshit during the organ solo in the breakdown.

Sven’s approach to DJing is akin to that of a master craftsman or tailor plying their trade, he seamlessly blends records, weaving a web of magic throughout Ebrington Square. He is one of the few DJ’s who have that innate ability to walk into a club or festival and be able to generate an incredible atmosphere and energy. He plays tracks no-one else does and in an order no-one would think possible, in short he is the DJ’s DJ.

A memorable highpoint in his Väth’s set is when he plays Margot – Er Suonone. This is an ominous sounding Techno number from Italy which seemingly builds forever with plenty of peaks and troughs combined with a really catchy, repetitive hook. The crowd are loving it and the atmosphere is off the richter scale. Other stand-out tracks include Spin – Floorpan and Mikael Jonasson’s Exile 004, with its trancey waspish arpeggios. Four to the floor techno is the order of the day and Sven isn’t holding back, trying to cram as many of his big tracks into his two hour set as humanly possible. Towards the end of his set Sven drops Konstantin Sibold’s, Mutter, a Techno/Trance hybrid with ethereal chords – proper 21st century dance music. The crowd clap in unison with Sven during the breakdown of Danny Daze – Swim, when the beat kicks in the whole dance floor erupts.

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end and the music stops promptly at 11pm. Sven goes on the mic, thanking the crowd and telling them that it has been an “honour” to play in Derry. This is the first time the Frankfurt legend has visited the Maiden City – we were honoured to have him and we hope he returns.

Finally, a special mention must go to the promoters at Jika Jika, who for well over a decade have been putting on top drawer events in the city and the surrounding area. From humble beginnings, they’ve provided a platform for local DJ’s/artists whilst also bringing some of the biggest names in electronic music to Derry. Their hard-work, dedication and passion for showcasing the best underground dance music is really starting to pay off. Long may it continue!

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