It’s Thursday, the 24th of august, if you’re travelling from Coimbra to Figueira da Foz through Montemor you can’t help but notice the lights in the sky coming from the mythical Castle of Montemor-o-Velho. An epic location that predates the founding of Portugal itself and that was also used for techno raves in the nineties, although this time it’s different but not in much. Festival Forte is on for its fourth edition, following three years of great success and optimal reviews. Some would say that this edition ended up being lackluster in terms of headlining names despite that, for those present, this approach from the organization to an even darker, more experimental side of techno definitely paid off to the environment inside the castle that could only be lived.
As the first day went on with Lydia Lunch, Mia Zabelka and Zahra Mani opening the gates of the Castle with Medusa’s Bed, being followed by Blawan, Byetone, Clark, Kangding Ray, Nathan Fake, Apart that takes our cake for best display on this first day as well as Varg that played as Friday morning came to life and a town with desert streets and a dry beat sound in the background is filled with the many ravers leaving the Castle to roam towards Camping is Love where the party already started at 9am, or some to meet the disappointing reality that there were no festival shuttles on the first day.
Since the party continued in the camping, the amount of foreign people staying outside of town was noticeable in Coimbra train and bus stations as the last connections to Montemor came around and the hardest part was definitely not realizing that there were less portuguese people than foreign at Forte. On Friday even the sunset could predict that something legendary was going to happen inside the castle, the day most anticipated by the biggest part of festivalgoers where Manu warmed up the dancefloor for Lucy and Peder Mannerfelt to bring up the heat even more, what was coming next was either stuff of dreams or faint memories of the past for some. When Oscar Mulero stepped up to the stage was when the spanish present at Forte made themselves heard the most, after that, the one and only Jeff Mills had to drop The Bells and make everyone go hysterical, and as the sun rose DVS1 had an arduous task ahead of him to keep up the rhythm, which resulted in a spectacular performance that left most people wondering what had happened to them on this second day.
In the aftermath of the destruction left by Mulero, Mills and DVS1 inside the Castle you’re thinking things can’t get much more hectic, yet there you are heading to the Castle with the thought of a 23 hour long rave looming over. A portuguese signature, Amulador started the party, In Aeternam Vale came in with a crazy display, he who also was part of the Glasshouse performance giving sound to the A/V act by Malo Lacroix and as Traversable Wormhole’s own act got cancelled, Becka Diamond had to bring her A-game to the Castle, this marked the start of the Hospital Productions Takeover of the Castle, celebrating their 20 years and more than 500 releases from the apocalyptic to the sublime, in a celebration where the sound was up to Phase Fatale, Vatican Shadow, Shifted, Ninos Du Brasil and Ron Morelli, it can’t quite be put into words what was experienced in those performances, after such a takeover it was time for three of the ladies of techno to come hand in hand with their signature sounds, Dasha Rush, Adriana Lopez and Ellen Allien, who along with Phase Fatale had our favorite acts of the final “day”.
On the final stretch of the 23 hour long techno epidemy, it was time for the Happy Ending with the more energetic sonority from Michael Mayer’s “&…” concept, to play along him the Kompakt boss invited Danny Daze and T. Raumschmiere, this translated into a unique setting and the perfect conditions to finish what was left of the festival inside the Castle, Raumschmiere once again reinventing himself as the sun started setting and Mayer’s very own happy sounds as the night came one last time atop the hill. Throughout the whole duration of the festival it ended up being mandatory checking out the Generative Garden by Jaygo Bloom and Malo Lacroix, an incredibly tranquilizing place that coupled with food tents would soothe any and all nonphysical wounds. Thanks to the collaboration of Olga Studio, you can’t argue that Festival Forte is not just a music festival, it’s a festival of the arts, sitting in a location that you can hardly best, it’s an event to be lived at all senses.