“Would you mind asking Mr. Garrix if he would mind turning it down a tad after midnight?” a Dubai Marina-based friend of ours jokingly asks before we head to day one of the seventh annual RedFest DXB, the pop festival that targets the city’s youth and brings in some of the top acts from the worlds of pop, EDM, rap, grime and beyond.
Our acquaintance is of course referring to headliner Martin Garrix, the Dutch DJ who closed out the first day of this year’s festival - and in some style, too.
You see, it’s a mixed bunch who make their way to RedFest every year, especially because its eclectic line up is so brilliantly diverse. There are a lot of teenagers. A lot.
Day One saw British five-piece electro-indie group Bastille kick things off in earnest at around 9pm, and although there was some pretty hefty congestion getting into the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, if you were inside the arena you’d have been unavoidably dancing - Bastille are pretty much the masters of the jump-around-with-your-hands-in-the-air chorus in 2020. Despite some of the band’s misleadingly melancholy lyrics, hidden amid some earwormingly bouncy, happy music, you can’t help but get swept up in frontman Dan Smith’s impeccable vocal performance and animation. During Flaws from debut album Bad Blood, Smith gets down into the crowd, walking his way through the pit, jumping with the fans, and generally having a right old time.
Rapping superstar Young Thug, not that the crowd down front seemed to care, turned up about 20 minutes late on stage, but seemed to still finish roughly on time in what was a full-on performance. Then it was all about Garrix. Cue the fireworks.
The DJ behind massive hits like Animals and, more recently, Summer Days alongside Macklemore had his bespoke set design set up impressively quickly. The crowd started to look decisively older by this time of night, as expected, as one of the biggest DJs in world music put in an absolute crackerjack performance dominated by heavy drops, signature tunes, lasers and so many pyrotechnics that we worried a little bit for the eyebrows of those down front.
Day Two’s acts start at around 4pm, and given some of the difficulty faced by people getting in on Day One, you’d be advised to get down in good time if you’ve got a ticket. On the stage, however, the bar has been set high for Stormzy and co. today.
Tickets for Day Two are available from www.800tickets.com.