The Day After ’16 – Top Reasons To Fest in Panama
When thinking about music festivals on a global level, rarely does one think about Central America. Yet, for the past few years, a small festival in Panama has been growing. Still small enough for dancing room, big enough for the best names in music. The Day After brought some much needed heat during one of the coldest months of the year. As an American who has been to several US festivals, it was incredibly refreshing to catch a glimpse of how another culture takes electronic music, and the festival that came along with it.
Panama is a hot country. Humidity was high that weekend, but the festival didn’t begin until the sun went down, which meant more lights and cooler temperatures for dancing. The Day After’s venue was the perfect setting for the party. Figali Plaza, with its stone backdrop made it feel like you were partying in an old abandoned building. The main stage stole the show with its central location. The stage allowed for maximum festing with its outside setting, allowing the sound to carry across the clear Panamanian sky. With a large LED wall in front of the decks, artists could hop on the platform and give their love to the crowd. The Beatport Stage was inside, with lit bathrooms and a little bit of air conditioning, it was a refreshing escape from the heat. Most artists inside had an echoing driving beat, and it seemed as though the stage didn’t take full advantage of the space inside. There was an area almost the same size as the dance floor behind the stage. It’s possible as the festival gains momentum that the entire space might be necessary, but for now it kept everyone jamming in an intimate space.
The Day After was a festival for anyone and everyone that enjoys electronic music. If you’re looking for variety, TDA had it down to a science. This year’s lineup had Above & Beyond and Arty for the trance crowd, Jauz for the trap lovers, GTA. for a little hype, Mija and Nervo for those who love the ladies, Yellowclaw for the Dutch, and Jack Ü and Zedd for the pop lovers. Plus, the Beatport stage added a little sinister flare for those in the deep house and techno scene. With The Day After being the biggest and pretty much only fully electronic music festival in the area, they had to cover all the bases – and they did it beautifully.
The festival opened with a ton of variety. Jack Novak set the bar for female artists that weekend. Tons of foam fingers with her name were passed around, waving long after her set was over. Jauz brought his own unique flare to the table with a heavy trap bass set. He made the crowd go wild with “Deeper Love” and “Rock the Party.”
Above & Beyond tugged at everyone’s heartstrings with their endless trance love. These guys had the best visuals that weekend. Everything from mini movies, scenes from music videos, and epic dancer videos encompassed the stage during their set. It was never boring and never topped the whole weekend. As usual, the group brought someone from the crowd to push the button during “Sun & Moon.” The whole crowd cheered with the lucky lady as she kept everyone waiting before the drop. Finishing the set with a message, “Life is made of small moments like these,” this writer shed a tear for the beautiful experience. Arty had a tough act to follow, but he pulled out all the stops and succeeded, except for the fact that he played two Above & Beyond songs during his set, including “Sun & Moon” about 10 minutes after the crowd had just heard it, major faux pas on his part. Alas, he still made a fan out of anyone who hadn’t heard of him previously.
The rest of the weekend was full of hype. The ladies were in full form over the weekend. Mija came in rolling with the big boys with her heavy dubstep and trap bass, dropping several new remixes for everyone to enjoy. Tigerlily stole the crowd with her unique style and sound. Nervo brought a ton of pretty to the stage, and their set was just bouncy enough to have everyone jumping, they looked like they were having a blast.
GTA. seemed to be one of the small handful of artists to actually speak Spanish to the crowd, which was pretty refreshing seeing that the festival was in a Spanish speaking country. His set encompassed everything that the festival called for. Yellowclaw got a little too hyphy during their set. The music was on point, but it would have been worlds better if someone wasn’t yelling at the crowd the entire time. Sometimes you just have to shut up and dance, this guy should have put down the uppers before taking his shirt off and raging on the microphone.
Jack Ü was 45 minutes late to their set due to “traffic” but their short set made up for the wait. Even after dropping a few Justin Beiber tracks, everyone was in a Skrillex and Diplo trance. Diplo hammed it up for the crowd, waving the Panamanian flag and taking control of the entire stage. Both he and the Skrill know how to show love to the crowd. They blew kisses at the cameras and took turns jumping on the decks. It was a set worlds better than the last time this gal saw them at Spring Awakening in June of 2015. Whether it was an isolated incident, practice, or a full year of working together, whatever they’ve been doing to further their collaboration seemed to work. Zedd closed out the festival in a heavier fashion than his usual pop sets. His colorful visuals and outstretched arms made the crowd feel like they could finally belong. It was difficult to see the clock run down for an early close to day 3.
No matter where you go, dances will follow. Halfway to South America, the shuffle was in full form. It was also amazing to see the huge groups of people all coming and partying together. Several flags were brought to TDA, from the US, Panama, Columbia, Canada, Costa Rica, Brazil, the list goes on. Electronic music speaks all languages, because it rarely uses language at all. No matter where you were from, the joyful sentiment remained the same.
The sponsor areas of the fest were also fun and full of culture. Everything from live radio broadcasts, sand bungalows, a Twister contest, and even a hula hoop contest (I won – no big deal) all kept explorers entertained. Costumes were encouraged at the festival, and some ravers got in full gear to celebrate. In need of a haircut? No worries, Converse had a fully functioning (and busy) barber shop at the entrance to the Beatport Stage, something never seen at a festival for this gal thus far.
Surprisingly, there weren’t a bunch of people walking around asking for drugs, or asking if you want any at The Day After. Plus, there were 6 different uniforms among the security inside and out of the festival grounds. That’s a possible 6 different precincts, jurisdictions, and levels of power, both public and private, against you if you happen to speak to the wrong person. It’s better to enjoy the music purely for what it is, rather than searching for ways to alter your mind in order to enjoy it. If music requires a mind alteration, you shouldn’t be spending money to attend in the first place. It seemed as though everyone at TDA felt the same way. There weren’t nearly as many twisted faces and relentless kandi gnawing that one would see at an American fest of the same nature, not to mention that most of those attending would have been too young to partake in any illegal activity anyway – without getting in serious trouble with their parents. The crowd at TDA was surprisingly young. Attendees had to be 13 to enter, but it seemed that anyone from the age of 6 to 60 were in attendance, and all were having the time of their lives.
If The Day After was a little known festival before, it is about to become a destination fest for those who are looking to expand their festival list to something with more culture and warmth. The raw joy and enjoyment felt at The Day After is unmatched by something in the states. Next year, we highly recommend taking some time from the cold and checking out this extremely hot festival. See you next year!
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