Post-Festival Coverage: SXM Festival in St. Martin
Here we are, a week post-festival. After reflecting on our experience (and nursing a bad case of party flu/airport-germ cold) we’re here with the defining moments of SXM Festival 2017.
Biggest Regret: Missing RPR Soundsystem. RPR Soundsystem (consisting of Rhadoo, Petre Inspirescu, and Raresh) played at Refuge on Friday night. The side party we attended was quite fun, so it seemed a lot of work to head to the other end of the island. We had about 30 people confirm that we seriously missed out on the Romanian trio.
Best Sunrise Party: Chaim, Moscoman and Yokoo at Layla’s for Friday morning sunrise set. After this event, Layla’s wasn’t allowed to have parties. This was a shame, as it was a favorite venue. The set up encouraged dancing and intimate conversation. It also gave space to relax on the beach while still being close to the action. All in all, this party held strong beginning to end and set the tone for the weekend.
Chaim performs at SXM Festival. Credit: SXM Festival
Best Chill/No Chill Moment: During Âme’s live set Thursday night at Happy Bay Main Stage, one inebriated patron felt the music so much he felt he must sacrifice himself to the techno gods. He shed his clothing, climbed up on stage, and dove into Âme’s musical volcano. The diver was given a brief look, and then the set continued as if a fly had simply been buzzing around. Warning: The following video contains brief nudity.
Rookie mistake of the year: Nu was supposed to join Crussen for the official Saturday sunrise party. There was a lot of disappointed sighs, as many cite Nu as their favorite ringing-in-the-day artist. C’mon buddy, even Ricardo made it onstage. Word is that Crussen took the reigns and still gave attendees an enlightening set.
Most expected sh*t show: Ricardo. Isn’t it always Ricardo? The choices weren’t terrible, but it seems that Ricky forgot that he was actually playing a few times. Towards the end of his set, he decided it was nap time. Hawtin stepped in to close out the last night properly, a perfectly coiffed antithesis to Villalobos, full of spotless transitions and depth.
Ricardo Villalobos (sort of) performs. Credit: SXM Festival
Most Valuable Player: Doc Martin. Doc played several times over the festival, and each time I was reminded of exactly why he stands the test of time: versatility, humility and true passion. It was also refreshing to hear various DJs talk about how much they admire Doc and enjoy him as a person.
Most Reliable for A Good Time: All Day I Dream sunrise sets with Lee Burridge and Bedouin at Happy Bay’s Ocean Stage. While Layla’s would have been a better venue, and the opening was delayed, ADID always comes through on their guarantee: happy people, lots of laughter, major dancing, and serious tunes. I never walk away from one of Lee’s sets without a smile on my face. Energy is curated, and ADID does a damn fine job of it.
Lee Burridge sets off the final sunrise party at the Ocean Stage at Happy Bay. Credit: SXM Festival
Biggest Buzzkill: Venue Distances. We highly recommend staying between the day and night venues- it doesn’t look like a long journey but with walking up the hill, and heading to and from your accommodations to the shuttle stop or finding a taxi- it took close to an hour for me to make it home from day venues towards the night venues on the Simpson Bay/Dutch side of the island. With the pricing of the private cabs, it would cost an extra $50 each day to many places, unless you had a big group to go at $10/head. Also concerning venues- reducing parties and concentrating venue space seems like it would unify attendees.
Best Least-Attended Set: tied Atish and Soul Clap: Atish at Happy Bay main stage on Wednesday opening day set; and Soul Clap Saturday afternoon set at Happy Bay main stage were phenomenal. Unfortunately, the early afternoon-to-sunset parties weren’t well attended at Happy Bay for the most part. Major respected talent played to a near empty dance floor. This could be because people were trying to catch a snooze after the all-night events and sunrise sets, or possibly also because the main dance floor had no shade and was right in the path of the brutal Caribbean sun. During Roy Davis Jr.’s daytime set, a crane actually drove on the dance floor and replaced a light bulb while he was playing. Despite all this, Atish and Soul Clap brought beautiful, soulful and tropical-inspired grooves that kept the faithful moving non-stop.
Soul Clap takes down sunset. Credit: SXM Festival
Best Side Party: XLR8R Party at the Mercure Beach Lounge ft. Shaun Reeves, John Wander and Luke Cheadle. Sometimes the best parties are the ones you stumble onto. This Friday day party competed with the likes of Bob Moses, Matthias Meyer, My Favorite Robot and Andhim at Happy Bay. The intimate party drew various hotel residents, and an interesting mix of people, veering towards industry-heavy. Wander and Cheadle really played to the situation, and were a great fit for the environment.
Unexpected Side Perk: Shopping. Fashion and music have always gone hand-in-hand, and SXM brought top vendors, both at the festival and at various outside events. We had the luck to meet the vibrant Atousa Ghanizadeh, who has created a name on the scene with her A Line Called K range. Sleek jumpsuits and bodysuits are made for dancing. Our editor purchased a navy jumpsuit printed with tiny white horses that worked well day-into-night. The sheer creations of Coco Disco also caught our eye.
Editor Dawn Runge wears a piece from A Line Called K.
Best After/In-Between Parties: Private Villa Parties. You can give St. Martin one thing: there is some stunning real estate. SXM Festival’s boutique environment meant that it acted a bit like summer camp for many industry people who often have spent high-pressure hours together organizing artists, performing, producing, etc. SXM’s location and timing brought together people from all over the world, and their rented villas were a place for both work and play. If you have the group and resources, I would highly recommend this as an option – having a beautiful refuge that can also serve as a party spot is a definite win/win.
One of the villas where the party carried on.
Until next year, SXM Festival!
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