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Brave! Factory festival review

Kiev hosts the second edition of an increasingly unmissable annual event from the team behind one of Europe's greatest clubs

Kit Macdonald
Monday 27 August 2018 11:30
Mykki Blanco performs at Brave! festival in Kiev
Mykki Blanco performs at Brave! festival in Kiev

Last year's inaugural edition of Brave! Factory in the Ukrainian capital was a revelation: 30 hours of immaculately curated electronic music set in a sprawling Soviet-era train depot, with probably the strongest visual/artistic game you'll ever see at a festival.

2018's event is even better, with minor issues ironed out – the site is easier to navigate, the scheduling mercifully allows for some rest in the middle, and even last year's inclement weather is nowhere to be seen – and the same relentlessly high quality of bookings from the team behind the city's world-renowned Closer club.

The festival takes place across six stages, all of them different to last year aside from the outdoor Depo stage. One of the most impressive is Topka, a gigantic upstairs room which was once the factory's furnace. Here you can take in bass-heavy techno from local DJ Ponura, and, straight afterwards, the arresting sight of the green-haired Californian performance artist and rapper Mykki Blanco, clambering around windowsills and lumps of decommissioned machinery as he delivers militantly powerful hip hop to a heaving crowd.

Photo: Sasha Zmiievets 

The night section of the festival flows nicely from there. Floating Points' turns in squirmy, 303-laden electronics at the Cement stage, and DVS1 and Chris Liebling play pounding techno at the Angar Stage. DJ Bone ushers in the sunrise with the celebratory likes of "Go Bang" by Dinosaur L.

After a much-needed afternoon break I flit between the sharply contrasting pleasures of DJ Stingray's heavy techno at the Container, and an abstract but soothing live set (both artist and audience are seated) from Moscow artist Dasha Redkina in the Garden.

A closing six-hour b2b set down at the Depo from London DJ Jane Fitz and Carl H, a longtime friend and musical like-mind of Fitz's from the unlikely techno hotbed of Cleethorpes, is a huge highlight. The gorgeous, enveloping tech-house and techno that Fitz favours in this kind of setting is sheer bliss, and together the pair ensure the festival's final six hours glide by in no time.

"That was heaven," a friend murmurs as the final track fades out. I couldn't agree more.

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