Text & Pictures by Jade Cox.
Set in the province of Tramotti di Sotto in North-Eastern Italy, the first thing we noticed as we headed to the Sonica 2017 site was the stunning natural beauty of the surrounding area. It is a mountainous area and the festival itself was in the bottom of a valley carved by a crystal-clear river. Access to the site from the north, as we were travelling, was via a 20km winding mountain path that was outstandingly beautiful, with countless shades of green, if a little hairy to travel on!
On arriving at the festival grounds, we parked up outside the gate and were able to unload from there before moving the car round to the car park. After a little confusion at the gate about our access, we entered and set up our camp. Since we had arrived a day early we went for a nap in the shade under a tree to be nice and fresh for the start of the party since the 14-hour drive had been quite tiring.
After our nap, we headed to the festival area, past the swimming area of the river, to check out the stages and the market which were still being built and gave a hand with putting up a tipi for one of the stalls. Some of the art around the Gaia stage was under construction but there was one prominent piece, a wooden sculpture of a troll, that was already finished.
This was in the late afternoon and the food stalls were not open for business until 9pm but we spoke to some people at an Indian food stall who gave us some delicious Indian sweets and set the tone for a great festival with very open and friendly people.
Sonica 2017: Day 1
The music was scheduled to start at 6pm so after a much-needed long sleep we got up late and went to look around the (now completed) market and met our neighbours at the camp site.
Their food was outstanding and many people we spoke to were saying it was the best Indian food they had ever had outside of India
Our neighbours were a group of Austrian guys who we would end up spending a lot of time with over the festival. We went to eat at the same Indian food stall (Dharamsala) and the owner Emrik refused to take payment from my pregnant wife for the entire festival, this is something that we are very grateful for and something you don’t really see at the bigger festivals. Their food was outstanding and many people we spoke to were saying it was the best Indian food they had ever had outside of India. At 6pm we went for the opening of the main (Solaris) stage where Flooting Grooves opened with a great live flute set which set a wonderful energy on the dance floor ready for the other artists follow up sets.
We stayed at the dance floor until the early hours of the morning when we went to bed for a fresh start the next day.
Sonica 2017: Day 2
On awaking, we headed off to the far end of the camp site as we had been told there was a restaurant there which is used for the camping ground and so is a permanent structure. Nearly all the other food stalls were completely vegetarian and since we are not vegetarians, we thought we would check it out.
The rest of the night was spent between the Solaris and Gaia stages
They had several Italian dishes such as pasta, gnocchi and pizza, all nice and simple but very tasty, as Italian food should be. We chilled at the camp site and met some Australian girls who were camping next to us and spent some time chatting before heading off to see Static Movement at the main stage. The rest of the night was spent between the Solaris and Gaia stages but there was a bit of a problem with the sound at the Gaia stage and a few people were complaining about it.
The highs and lows sounded fine but the midrange was a bit over-powered and hard on the ears. A highlight of the night for us was the set from Diksha at the Solaris stage at 23:30, he totally killed it.
Once the tempo at the main stage increased at around 1-2am (from full-on to dark and hi-tech) we headed to bed as the hard, fast end of psytrance is not really our cup of tea. On our way back, we were blessed with a meteor shower so we lay outside watching the sky for some time which was really the icing on the cake for a tremendous day.
Sonica 2017: Day 3
Met a member of the Eco-Team and discussed the efforts made by them on-site. They did a really good job of keeping the site clean and provided both general waste and recycling bags to everyone, including a portable ash tray as seen at most of the other festivals these days. Although, it was a bit strange that the portable ash tray didn’t come with a lid. They were also responsible for looking after the toilet and shower facilities which, for the most part, were extremely clean for a festival and were always well stocked with their natural, lotus flower soap which we were asked to use to prevent pollution of the river. The bars were also offering a glass full of beer for a glass of cigarette butts.
Sonica 2017: Day 4
We had run out of cash by this day and decided to take a trip into the nearby village. It was only a 15-minute walk up a hill from the festival entrance and was a typical small, Italian, mountain village with colourful architecture and very friendly residents.
After going to the ATM, we had a beer in a biker restaurant and went to the local store to get some food. On returning to the festival we hit the dancefloor for another night of full-on energy and great vibes.
Sonica 2017: Day 5
We spent a lot of time at the stages this day, soaking in the atmosphere and dancing. We left an inflatable bed at the dancefloor since, with her pregnancy, my wife needed a comfortable place to sit. We happily walked around the market while leaving it at the stage, safe in the knowledge that people may use it but it’s unlikely that anyone would take it since the festival was so full of awesome people.
Sonica 2017: Day 6
Final day, must get plenty of dancing and juggling in! Tristan was scheduled as the final act on the Solaris stage at 18:30 and he played a brilliant set to end the festival including some encores.
Once the main stage had finished, the Gaia stage was still active into the night. We set ourselves down at a clothes stall near the stage and had a long chat with the owner of this and the Indian restaurant we mentioned previously.
Such a sad day, the end of a journey. We have met many wonderful people and had many enjoyable times. We didn’t hang around long in the morning and just headed off as soon as we were all alive and well. The journey home was uneventful but that is usually a good thing after such an eventful week at Sonica 2017!
We met Emrik, the owner of the Indian restaurant Dharamsala and his team on the very first day we arrived as we were searching for a food stall.
He presented us with homemade ladoos (besan and motichur) and asked to come back for dinner at 9pm. He had made dal and rice with salad. I chatted with him for a while and he told me what his plans were for the whole festival. He intended to keep no menu but to serve something different every single day, and boy did he do a good job!
He intended to keep no menu but to serve something different every single day, and boy did he do a good job!
To name a few of the curry’s he was serving were potato fenugreek leaves, potato capsicum, red kidney beans, lentils and vegetable noodles. A plate full of rice and curry always came with poppadum and raita (cucumber and carrots with yoghurt). For the people who love chillies, they had something special waiting, a paste of green chillies with garlic and onion also known as green chilly chutney. Throughout the day people could savour samosa with chai or just chutney and salad. All the dishes were vegetarian and the samosas were a consistently available snack until they ran out on the 6th day of the festival.
He had gulab jamun and coconut sweets along with mango lassi throughout.
If you find them at any festival then do not forget to try out his food
His generosity can not only be spoken of, but also seen, he gave me food for free the whole time for any amount and any time of the day. He even shared his samosa recipe with me, which I will be preparing soon. I am just so overwhelmed and happy that finally at this festival far away from home I get a taste of home after 2 and half years. I will be forever thankful and wish him all the luck. Emrik and his team have stalls at many of the festivals around Europe, especially in the vicinity of Vienna. If you find them at any festival then do not forget to try out his food. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed, and this is coming from someone who criticizes food every time she eats out.