Set by a lakeside in southwest Germany, SeaYou combines high-quality house, techno and trance with a beautiful location and plenty of activities for sporty types
One of Germany's most beloved house, techno and progressive psytrance festivals, SeaYou attracts huge crowds each year with its summer beach holiday vibes. Where else can you arrive on the dancefloor by floating in a big pink flamingo, dance to the world's best DJs with your feet submerged in water or try out water skis while powerful beats are pounding from every stage around? Set upon the banks of the serene Tunisee Lake near Freiberg, this weekend-long festival (13-14 July) offers a paradise for fans from 35 countries who like to combine their passion for electronic music with the relaxation of a beach vacation.
Despite its debut only taking place in 2014, SeaYou has rapidly built an extensive fanbase and glowing reputation. Starting out the first year with 15,000 festival visitors and 40 acts spread over five stages, the festival has expanded in a short span of time to nearly 40,000 visitors in 2019 with 100 high-quality acts laid out beautifully across seven impressive stages.
Known as the Beach Republic, over the first three years the exquisite lake became an idyllic setting for enthusiastic techno and house music lovers who had been spoilt year after year with an immaculate line-up from the top shelf. Premier electronic artists such as Nina Kraviz, Carl Cox, Richie Hawtin, Chris Liebing and Jeff Mills have all been on the roster in previous editions.
With the truly stunning Black Forest – just an hour's drive away – further tempting visitors to the region, it is no wonder that SeaYou kept on growing in popularity, particularly with visitors from over the borders in nearby France and Switzerland. But what turboboosted the festival’s attendance figures was adding a psy-trance stage in 2017, which attracted world-acclaimed names such as Neelix, Liquid Soul, Ace Ventura and Vini Vici.
Opening the camping grounds on Friday afternoon gave the eager crowd a chance to settle in before embarking an extraordinary musical journey over the weekend, and there were many pop-up tent parties here and there till late at night. The first beats kicked off on Saturday at 11am but it seems many festival-goers perhaps overdid it the night, before since the stages did not fill up properly till afternoon (though issues with the new security company on the gates didn't help – getting in involved nearly a two-hour queue).
Stage 1 was located by the lakeside, and dedicated to house music, Stage 2 – the only covered area – brought us proper banging techno and was located right next to the main stage. Stage 3 had an enormous eagle spreading its wings over the crowd and a beautiful carousel to spice up our experience, Stage 4 with beautiful black and white psychedelic decor was the home of progressive psy-trance beats, Stage 5 was set on the lake itself with a platform reaching into the water (but limited capacity), Stage 6 was a funny tiny disco booth and finally Stage 7 was a chilled space with comfy beanbags and live music (violin, cello, piano), located on the other side of the lake for those who wanted to enjoy the overarching view.
The sheer range of musical choice was almost overwhelming, and it would be impossible for any one human being to catch all of the amazing acts and headliners on each stage. On Saturday, Stage 4 was the only busy area from the start of the day, with Audiomatic starting at noon, followed by the heart-warming melodic beats of Morten Granau. Afternoon belonged to The Yellowheadz, Marika Rossa and Kerstin Eden on Stage 5, who absolutely smashed it with their heavy duty techno and hardstyle sounds. Stage 2 provided excellent pounding techno the whole day long, with Pan-Pot and Amelie Lens for the finishing touches, while Stage 3 brought the ultimate headliners in the form of Boris Brejcha, Dubfire, and Solomun closing it off at midnight. Without a doubt – a successful sunny day!
Sunday was a little different: halfway dry and then, from later afternoon till the end, very wet! On Stage 7, Nic Bax & Erasmus accompanied by saxophone from Killerkanne blew us away. Lexy & K-Paul made an impression on Stage 1, while Stage 2 with Victor Ruiz, Sam Paganini, Len Faki, Ben Klock went head-to-head with techno legends served alongside each other on Stage 3: Monika Kruse, Adam Beyer, Sven Väth and Maceo Plex.
However, the crown of the day belonged indisputably to the psychedelic Stage 4, which definitely had the most powerful and lively vibes on the dancefloor. Despite the rain, feet kept on stomping hard, the shrieks of joy grew even louder and waves of ecstasy spread over the crowd. A psy-trancer's dream line-up of Phaxe, Ace Ventura, Fabio Fusco, Neelix, Reality Test and Liquid Soul supplied simply irresistible psy/prog tuneage full of fat basslines, beautiful sexy vocals and insane vibes. Followed by utterly mesmerising firework display, a perfect finish!
The downside of the festival was its organisation this year. Arrival on Camping A – the one where you pay extra for better toilets, showers and mobile-charging – was a little tricky, with the signs way too spread out on the long distance of the streets. That plus staff who spoke little English and answered seemingly every question with "I don't know" undoubtedly made arrival more stressful than it needed to be for some vistors. Swiss festival-goer Jolanda, who was attending SeaYou for the third time, told us: "Last year there were no problems to go through the main gate from Camping A into the festival. Police officers were checking us, they knew what they were doing and it was super-fast. This year the new security were trying to check each person too thoroughly, and displayed no respect for our queuing time and the money we'd paid for our festival ticket."
Organisational/logistical quibbles aside, though, SeaYou Festival provides the tempting combination of a unique location with world-renowned DJs. It captivates the crowd with the beautiful environment – the Tunisee Lake and surrounding forests add an element of natural power to a weekend of electronic partying. Tunisee has become a mecca for guests from near and far who want to soak up the sun, relax, dance and rave no matter what the weather brings.
Words & pics: Agnes Klos and Gino Van Herp
Tags: SeaYou, Freiberg, Germany, festival, house, techno, trance, psy-trance, Audiomatic, Morten Granau, The Yellowheadz, Marika Rossa, Kerstin Eden, Pan-Pot, Amelie Lens, Boris Brejcha, Dubfire, Solomun, Nic Bax & Erasmus, Lexy & K-Paul, Victor Ruiz, Sam Paganini, Len Faki, Ben Klock, Monika Kruse, Adam Beyer, Sven Väth, Maceo Plex, Phaxe, Ace Ventura, Fabio Fusco, Neelix, Reality Test, Liquid Soul