RIYAD: The region’s largest music festival opened its doors to festival-goers on Thursday, as SOUNDSTORM’s prelude – the XP Music Conference – ended the first act of “Riyadh’s loudest week”.
Music fans from around the world flocked to the second edition of MDLBEAST SOUNDSTORM in the Saudi capital for four days of electrifying musical performances in the desert by more than 200 local, regional and international artists.
Over 180,000 people attended the first day of the festival.
Ramadan Al-Haratani, CEO of MDLBEAST, said the event is expected to welcome more than 500,000 people over the four days – overtaking Tomorrowland and Coachella – making it the largest music festival in the world.
Doors opened at 3:30 p.m., welcoming visitors with a performance by Saudi-Palestinian DJ Daddy Bisht on the BIG BEAST stage, one of the festival’s eight main stages.
Ahmed Nagi, 17, attending the event with friends, told Arab News: âIt’s a really cool vibe, and the organization is better than I expected. From the audience to the artists, everything is more than I imagined.
âI saw DJ Snake, one of my favorite artists, and I can’t wait to see the other artists,â he said.
SOUNDSTORM has not only brought together some of the biggest names in music under one hub, but it continues to nurture and support local and regional artists to show their talents on central stages, also known Creative Director Ahmad Alammary under the name of Saudi DJ Baloo, told Arab News.
He said: âWe work with a lot of passion, because it’s music, and music really inspires a lot of love. It’s exciting to work in a creative field, but even more exciting to spread joy. Working creatively to spread joy is the perfect combination of ingredients.
âEveryone has a journey with music. It’s like food. There isn’t a five year old who wants to eat sushi, is there? Eventually your palate begins to grow. And that’s why we have such a diverse group of artists in our lineup this year.
The doors closed at 3 a.m. after fans enjoyed an incredible ensemble with Elissa, Majid Al-Mohandis, Nora En Pure, R3HAB, Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso, Tieso and more.
âThe parking lot was a bit far, but seeing our favorite artists here really made up for it,â said Fahda Al-Qahtani, 19, of Riyadh.
Many festival-goers attended the first day of SOUNDSTORM in large groups with their friends, decked out in the brightest make-up and colorful costumes.
The venue features plenty of restaurants such as Al-Baik and Shawarma, an assortment of carnival favorites including arcade basketball and pyramid smash, and local clothing stores including MDLBEAST’s BANI BEAST, the first Kingdom festival clothing brand.
Inspired by the farwa, a garment worn by locals during colder periods in Riyadh, BANI BEAST’s philosophy aims to bridge the gap between traditional tribal clothing – bani meaning tribe of – and something as wearable as an overcoat. in the streets of New York.
âWe have learned so much from our previous experience and all of these lessons have been incorporated into the design thinking for the next edition. The first edition was something we developed in three months and built in six weeks, âAlammary added.
For the second edition, the organizers of MDLBEAST spent five months building everything after nearly two years of planning during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic – which despite the many negatives gave the festival time and space to prepare.
âThe BIG BEAST is the biggest main stage and I think it’s even nicer than last time around because we had more time to design it. The pitch also has an additional stage compared to last year, and we have an additional eighth stage, which will be a surprise for the fans, âsaid Alammary.
One of the main stages called DANCE BEAST, a new edition this year, acts as a big club space for people to let off steam to the sound of the storm under a big tent. People took the opportunity to visit the tent during the performances and danced and mingled as the night wore on.
The underground stages, surrounded by shipping containers, are also back this year with more creativity in their designs.
âOne of them is built like an amphitheater, another is dominated by mirrors and the zombie stage is fully LED lit. This is all great, but the talent that comes into play is a very passionate talent, âAlammary added.
Another important angle of this year’s festival is the Respect and Reset section with the headline âRespect your right, let’s reset the way it’s protectedâ. It aims to raise public awareness of respect for diversity and the creation of a united front to fight harassment.
Alammary pointed out that the initiative was also aimed at bridging what he described as the âforeignâ divide between people in Saudi society, as well as bringing different cultures closer together.
The heightened security at the festival was evident, with over 8,000 security professionals and field response teams – about one security staff member for every 30 attendees – to help prevent antisocial behavior and create a safe space for festival-goers.
Organizers have advised those attending SOUNDSTORM to familiarize themselves in advance with the safety and security points to use in an emergency, and are encouraged to become active witnesses by reporting any incidents of wrongdoing through the official MDLBEAST app.