It's 2 am and I'm back home in Kurdistan, reeling from an incredible two week break in Mexico and Belize, and I have a severe case of jet lag. What better to use my time productively than to write a review on the Young Turks' New Year festival in Tulum?!
The festival had an unmissable line up, my favorites including The xx, Grimes, John Talabot, Pional, Koreless, Sampha, SBTRKT, and Four Tet. It was an evening event that would flow well into the morning hours of January 1, and despite having to wait in a very slow-moving line to pick up tickets earlier that evening (some people waited longer than three hours in a line that ran dangerously along the main road), we had prepared ourselves for a large night.
Sampha was the first main act on, and while the crowd was mainly seated, it was a hauntingly beautiful piano set that fit perfectly with the stunning beach setting and onshore breeze. Twigs followed with an atmospheric set, leading the way for John Talabot to bring in the New Year, which he did with his sidekick Pional and their popular tune "Destiny." By this time the crowd was pumped and the atmosphere was thick with people dancing in the sand, so it's a shame that Chairlift was the next act on, bringing the buzz back down to a rather mellow "sitting, standing, and chatting" vibe as they sampled some brand new tracks.
The xx came on next with their powerfully atmospheric set, but yet again it was a stand-still performance that would be suited to any other time, just not 2am on January 1. Grimes followed, and they had the crowd standing up and cheering loudly for Claire, however the sound quality was off and she couldn't hear herself perform, which meant the set was tainted as technicians stepped in to attempt to solve the issues. She handled the stressful situation extremely well, but as a result the set was cut short. This could have been the highlight act, but I'll definitely go see her again as her energy was truly infectious.
By this time it was close to 5am, so we had a breather and relaxed on the sand as SBTRKT's "Hold On" started. Unable to move far away, we sat and quietly sang along as we overlooked the ocean. We spotted a line of light on the horizon, so shifted places to get a front row view of the first light of 2014, and it wasn't long before daylight snuck through and party goers headed for the water, dancing in the waves to "Wildfire." Koreless followed soon after, and people continued to dance and swim as the sun came up. For me, this time was the highlight of the festival.
Despite a few issues with the ticket collection and not agreeing with the order of acts during the night, it was a truly unmissable new year -- a "pinch yourself" experience -- and it was a spectacular introduction for what's hopefully going to be a great year ahead.