Dancing with the Wolves at Untold
Photo Credit: Katarina Cvetko
By: Katarina Cvetko
Last month marked the 4th annual edition of Romania’s Untold music festival. Located in Cluj-Napoca, the festival claims to be the world capital of night and magic. The four-day all ages event featured over 250 artists across 9 stages ranging from up and coming artists to some of the biggest names in the world and everyone else in between. From the impressive line up to the countless food options and spectacular venue, it’s obvious why Untold has been voted as one of the best music festivals in Europe. Here’s what I loved about it.
Located in the heart of the city, the main stage is brought to life each year inside the Cluj Arena, which has a total capacity of over 80,000! While I generally do not like stadium festivals, Untold did an incredible job, using up the space perfectly and making the flow of traffic in and out of the arena quick and easy. Surrounding the stadium are eight other stages, countless food vendors, rides, activities and many photo ops! The overall atmosphere of the location creates a unique Transylvanian feel as festival goers wander through the forest like exterior to get from stage to stage. Frequent buses loop the city, stopping at the arena with plenty of parking options available as well making the festival very easy to get to.
The overall vibe of this festival is definitely different to most festivals in Europe. Not only does the festival run overnight for four consecutive nights, the crowd ranges from infants to the elderly and everyone in between! I often saw entire families walking around into the early hours of the morning, which was considered completely normal at this event! With the arena being able to seat over 30,000 and most artists performing well past the typical 1-hour range, the main stage definitely gave off a more concert type vibe. The surrounding stages, dedicated exclusively to specific genres such as trance and techno were also filled up the entire time, with loyal fans making any small stage feel like the main stage. The overall crowd at this festival was by far one of the most dedicated I have seen, with most people staying until the very end each night.
One thing that always catches my attention at festivals is the level of production and Untold definitely did not hold back! With the main stage being held inside a stadium, I eagerly awaited for the rim fireworks each night, which were shot out from the roof of the arena. Fireworks, lasers, and pyro made regular appearances throughout the entire weekend, which complimented the music perfectly and definitely made this event stand out.
Featuring over 250 international artists, the line up alone brings this festival up there with some of the biggest events in the world. Ranging from some of the biggest names in EDM to its various subgenres and even exclusive live performances, this festival has something to suit every musical taste! After seeing so many incredible sets and discovering many new artists, here are the top three sets that stood out to me at Untold 2018.
American born DJ and producer KSHMR closed out the main stage on day two of the festival with an unforgettable performance. His unique method of storytelling through visuals perfectly accompanies his music and he adapts the story to each country he visits. Having seen KSHMR perform in multiple countries all over the world, I have witnessed the amazing story in over 10 different languages and while I don’t understand it most of the time, it’s amazing to see him create a unique connection with the audience.
Day three saw me glued to the trance stage and while it was a very hard decision to pick a favourite, German DJ ATB came out on top. The producer and songwriter has been in the business for over two decades and has created some of the most iconic anthems of all time. Being able to share the magic on stage with him definitely made me appreciate the artist even more as he constantly turned around to appreciate and party with his crew and colleagues as well as give the same amount of attention to the rest of the crowd. Watching him singing along to every song he played and seeing the amount of enthusiasm and passion that went into his set easily made it one of the best sets of the entire weekend.
ARMIN VAN BUUREN
It wouldn’t be Untold without the man himself, Armin van Buuren. The master of marathon sets played an extended 5-hour set in 2017 which made it one of the most memorable sets in the festival’s history! Scheduled to play four hours this year, I was honored to say that I was able to witness his own record being broken with his set extending well into the daylight for over 7 hours! I am already looking forward to his potentially 9 hour set next year? Or perhaps the festival should just dedicate the entire 4th day to him! Either way, this was by far one of the most incredible festival sets I have ever witnessed and I can’t wait to see what else he has in store!
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this event. Everything from the location to the production and the people stood out for me at this festival and it is very obvious to see how important this event is to the locals. There isn’t a single person in Cluj who did not know about the event and they welcomed thousands of foreigners into their beautiful town with open arms. The four-day event was easily one of the best festivals I have attended all summer and I cannot wait to return next year for Chapter 5 of Untold!