C2C Festival 2023: Upping the Tempo
Turin takes the spotlight over a weekend in November.
Turin is a city of constant reinvention. The first capital of Italy back in 1861 became the industrial power house of Italy through the 1920s. It’s this latter period that birthed the large number of industrial spaces, from the reclaimed Parco Dora in north Turin to the south’s Lingotto, the area of the original FIAT factories inspired by Detroit’s production lines.
The combination of these available spaces and Turin’s location has provided a platform for another reinvention, a cultural hub of Europe for arts & music.
This is evidenced by the surge in events and festivals happening in the northern Italian city, many achieving global acclaim within the circuit. Among the pioneers in making the most of the city’s unique charm is C2C Festival. Celebrating their 21st year, the festival has consistently championed an adventurous blend of underground, experimental pop and avant-garde music, locking in a dedicated audience of both locals and international visitors.
Lingotto Fiere, C2C Festival’s primary home since 2015, a gigantic warehouse space just a few minutes south of the city centre is the ideal venue to showcase the array of artists on the experimental edges of electronica. C2C Festival split the venue into two stages, both cavernous warehouse rooms but each presented with its own identity through well crafted lighting and incredible acoustics.
We kick Friday off at the slightly smaller of the two stages, the “Stone Island” stage, a 180’ platform with pumping stacks of Funktion 1s and focused lighting cutting through a steady stream of smoke which obscures the view of the acts on stage, creating a surprisingly intimate dance floor for the dark & sprawling warehouse surrounding.
“I mean where else can you get beautiful handmade ravioli for €8 at a festival?”
The two stages connect through tunnels filled with lights, green lasers drawing crowds into the main stage and massive white pin spot lit mirror balls funnelling the masses back to the Stone Island stage.
Our orientating lap of the festival takes us to the main stage for Two Shell who deliver a curious mix of Clair De Lune mixed into Avril Lavigne and a guy in a mask screaming into a mic… I guess this is the meme-ification of dance music; bite sized chunks of nonsense to be posted on TikTok…? Perhaps they are the necessary avant-garde, the 2023 KLF? I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one – it all feels pretty unnecessary and at odds with the rest of the programming. Two Shell, why you gotta go and make things so complicated?
Thankfully it’s about the only misstep for us – but it’s barely 11pm and we’re already hard & fast in both rooms; deciding we need to line the stomach to get up to pace so we explore the food court outside – and it’s here we’re reminded you’re in one of northern Italy’s prestigious food regions… I mean where else can you get beautiful handmade ravioli for €8 at a festival?
Re-entering the dance, Tiga has brought some restraint to proceedings, working through cuts of house and techno, teasing the odd element of italo-disco twinged synths (always a dangerous game to play in Italy!) and bringing the crowd along with him to a well reset tempo of acid and bleepy house.
As the festival finds its pace and both rooms fill up, we head over to check Overmono’s live set. Their crafted blend of UK bass music, breaksy-garage and cut up vocals work stunningly well in the cavernous main room. It’s here the full capabilities of the visuals also become apparent with mesmerising 360 and overhead screens. The brothers work through their signature sounds and layering up acapellas – including an on-the-fly rework of The Streets as a precursor to their own catchy garage hit So U Know. It’s a pitch perfect, confident live set that is deserving of the headline slot for Friday.
Back in the Stone Island room, Avalon Emerson masterfully works her way through a fast paced yet heady mix of breaks and techno; holding the energy for a solid two hours.
We stop for a quick break in the Plenitude Room, an AV installation made up of green lasers synced to ambient sounds which is a welcome brief reset before checking Evian Christ, who closes proceedings with a heavy array of pounding kickdrums, high energy transitions and a hectic, rave-focused track selection, squeezing every last drop of energy left in the crowd before calling it a night on Friday.
Saturday’s main stage sees Yves Tumor and King Krule bring some live guitar music which is a welcome re-entry for our slightly tired heads. These live acts are a reminder of the polyhedric personality of C2C Festival, which throughout the years has been stretching its electronic roots to a broader reach and a reminder of how well the multi-genre programming works in largely electronic territories.
Back at the Stone Island stage, there’s no such easing back in as Bambii locks straight into a laser focus delivery, quickly flicking between cut-up vocal edits and thrashing, percussion heavy techno.
Approaching 1am the main room starts to fill up with a crowd here to check Flying Lotus, who walks on and announces “It’s been a while since I’ve been here; so we’ve got a lot of ground to cover tonight”… And we sure do. Opening with some more signature sounding FlyLo tracks, he switches into some proper West Coast Hip Hop business working effortlessly into disco-laced house for an almost mini set within a set before building it into more stripped back techno and finally out in some more signature style tunes, showcasing his abilities as both producer and DJ.
The ambitious bookings, well crafted production and the unique venue are the elements that put C2C Festival firmly on the European circuit of electronic festivals; for heads into the more experimental bridge of pop and electronica, you’d be hard pressed to find a better weekend city break.
Photography courtesy as follows:
Overmono – Kimberley Ross
Stone Island Stage – Giacomo DeCaro
Flying Lotus – Loris Brunello