So I booked a flight and packed a bag for one night in Dubai, just to see Mark Farina at the Chillout Festival—4th annual event sponsored shamelessly by Perrier (and apparently Nokia—sheesh!).
I wasn’t sure what to expect in the festival itself. It was one of those times when I thought “what the hell am I going to wear, will there be lockers, etc.?”
In the end, I went with my gut and over my swim suit put on some jean leggings, a long white michael stars top. Took a mini-purse with camera card and cash and called it go. Lucky, I fit in—the place was set up like a modern nomad’s respite—bean bag, ‘fatboy,’ chairs galore, a couple bars, nice stage setup with a couple screens and the hotel Atlantis in the background. The place reminds me of a Disney movie … it’s nuts driving there over the palm’s reclaimed majesty for the first time, at night. It’s just famous.
Anyway, so got there and settled in and sat down with some local kids who sat with some shisha and chatted with me about New York and Cali before I asked them about what they thought of Dubai these days. I mean, they grew up there so they must have been like “wow.” They said they’re proud of the place, it’s amazing. And you know, it is.
They could barely stand the first act (Kamal Musallam Quartet)—neither could I, actually—and left. If it weren’t for Farina being last, I think most of the people would have left by the second act. I mean, one of the guys (Seiji) writes and mixes stuff for Roisin Murphy and was pretty good, and Cobblestone Jazz was alright although a hole in the head at times, but nothing touched Farina.
I went alone, which is a test. Had I been with trusted companions, the night would have been far more silky leading up to the act of choice. Nevertheless, it was fun because the kids left and were replaced by some Australians and I had a nice chat with a guy named Gus. Dreaded fellow who was in the process of moving to the UK from Australia with his girlfriend, who reminded me of a cat because she could barely hold her eyes open and was curled up in a fatboy chair sleeping 95 percent of the time I hung with the group.
Sweet people. Sat with them but felt myself pulled toward the stage because we were invited to drag our bags up there and when the man arrived, I wanted to be front and mostly center.
Tell you what, he got up there and my heart almost flew out of my chest. A bunch of us felt that way–we were screaming—“Farinaaaa—wheeeeew!” Suddenly the last puzzle piece snapped in and a bunch of us hit the sand–where there had just been three people huddled around smoking fags were now a couple dozen and Farina got it started. Many of us danced non-stop and pleaded him for more. I mean, typically, at the end of a concert, I join in the rah-rah just to be kind. No, not this time—this was desperation “pleeeeeeeeeeez! we all shouted.”
In his bio, in the festival booklet, his following is described as cult-like. True.
Honest to God, seeing him live brought a whole new dimension to hearing his stuff even now. He’s just so organized and yet sensitive to what’s going on—just tuned the f#$% in. He started out with a lot of stuff that was accompanied by bongos. Then worked deep for a bit. I barely remember, I was just so taken by all of it.
Like drugs only better.
Gotta find the set on soundcloud and post it.
The festival in general was sweet and will go next year even if Farina isn’t there, with friends/partner because it’s just a cool scene and a lovely thing to do.
It’s not young punks getting pasted, it’s mature, child-like and felt just right.
Big Love=Big Peace.
PS: for a model Farina set, a solid example: click here