Lebanon’s summer festivals – Byblos , Baalbek , Beiteddine , et al. – succeed in bringing a clutch of international acts to the country each year. That said, these events are not necessarily high on the list of priorities for fans of electronic dance music.
Luckily for Lebanon’s electronica addicts, a new addition to the field promises to set this imbalance to rights. Creamfields, the largest festival of electronic music in the world , has selected Beirut as its latest international location. It will host a one-day festival at the Beirut Waterfront  on Sept. 7, in collaboration with local production team JK58 and Solidere.
Creamfields U.K., which started as an offshoot of Liverpool’s Cream nightclub in 1998, takes place over three days each summer in Cheshire, England. Over the past 15 years it has expanded internationally and offshoots of the festival have been held in 17 countries across six continents.
It has taken place in Abu Dhabi for the past four years. Andy Owen, the festival’s marketing manager, who was in Beirut to attend the news conference announcing the festival Friday, said that the team selected Beirut as their latest destination after repeatedly hearing good things about the local music scene.
“Cream chose Beirut as the first capital city in the Middle East to host our ... festival due to the city’s constantly growing electronic music audience,” he explained, “and for its capacity to attract music lovers from all over the region.
“A lot of the time we get approached by local promoters who want to work with us,” he explained, “although with Beirut ... we kind of actively sought this one out. Lebanon [is] such a contrast with the rest of the Middle East.”
While the complete lineup has yet to be announced, Owen confirmed that the selection of international performers will include Steve Angello, the Greek-Swedish co-founder of Swedish Mafia House, U.K.-Canadian techno DJ Richie Hawtin, U.S. producer and DJ Seth Troxler, Tunisian-German DJ and producer Yassin Ben Achour (known as Loco Dice), U.S. DJ Eric Estornel (known as Maceo Plex), and Egyptian trance duo Aly Amr Fathalah and Fadi Wassef Naguib (Aly and Fila), hosts of international radio show “Future Sound of Egypt.”
Regional DJs including Gunther & Stamina, Ronin & Nesta, Madjam, Phil, Big Al, Raxon, Salah Sadeq, Jared Mcculloch, Kitchen Crowd, CAB and Karim R are also scheduled to perform, and organizers of local club nights such as See You Next Saturday, Decks on the Beach and Uberhaus will be involved in the event.
Creamfields Beirut will have a capacity of more than 15,000 people and will feature three stages, amusement parks and mazes, and more than 14 hours of music, scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. and continue until the early morning. JK58 say that if this year’s event proves a success they hope to expand the festival next year to take place over two or three days.
Last week it was reported that the tense political situation in the region was the reason behind British comedian Russell Brand’s decision to cancel tour dates in Beirut and Abu Dhabi. Owen said his team has had no trouble booking acts for Beirut.
“People like Richie [Hawtin] and Steve Angello – these guys are used to playing all over the world,” Owen said. “From what I’ve seen since I’ve been here, there seems to be a gulf between what perceptions in the U.K. are and what it’s actually like. Standing here today, it’s hard to match that up with what I’m reading at home.”
Creamfields Beirut, he said, will have its own character and local flavor.
“I don’t believe that you can just take something and move it from one place to another and expect it to work,” he said. “For example the acts that we’ve got playing, we’ve got a balance between big commercial guys like Steve Angello, who’s massive, hugely popular, and then we’ve got Richie [Hawtin] and Loco Dice who perhaps cater to that more underground side.”
He added: “Somewhere else in the world that might not work, so we tailor everything to what’s required locally.”
Creamfields Beirut will take place Sept. 7 at the Beirut Waterfront, starting at 4 p.m. and continuing throughout the night. Discounted early bird tickets are currently on sale via Presella from $50. General ticket sales are scheduled to commence July 10.
By India StoughtonWill you be making your way to the Waterfront for the big event? Please share by commenting below.