In early September the mythical Sinai landscape of Nuwieba hosted the Cloud 9 music festival. The festival was the second this year, and saw a mixed line up of twenty-one emerging and established artists take to the seaside stage over three days.
Following a 7-hour car ride and the comedic antics of the frequent military checkpoints dotted along the way, we finally arrived at Magaana Beach camp ready to ditch the last traces of Cairo (our phones and shoes) and jump in to the sea.
The camp juts out from the zigzagging coastline to the South of Nuweiba where the sound of the sea envelops you as soon as you step out of your car. When we went to check-in however the usual organizational hiccups arose. There was confusion with the rooms and the kitchen was offering pancakes only. We decamped to a nearby beach for a few hours and by the time we returned everything seemed to be in order.
Adam Awad opened the show with his soft, folky tunes that complemented the languid surroundings perfectly. The crowd lazed on carpets and mattresses in front of the low set stage and the feeling of collective relief to be out of Cairo was palpable.
Stagnant Nebula made a welcomed appearance along with several less well-known acts. The performances in between varied in terms of quality, which was to be expected at a festival where the organizers aimed to give new acts access to a wider audience. It was curious however why there was no music in between acts, which would have made transitions in the program much more organic.
The second day was entirely devoted to techno with the sounds of KIK dominating the night. The sultry Bosaina got the crowd on their feet with her set of moody beats. While fellow KIK members Hussein and ZULI were a hit with the techno disciples. I did find the division of acts to be curious because having an entire night dedicated to one genre meant that some audience members where alienated by a lack of choice.
The final night saw indie favorites PanSTARRS take to the stage giving a rousing melancholic performance. While Alexandrian band Portrait Avenue was full of soothing melodies, which complemented the indie rock sentiment of the night. Raindogs, the only cover band of the evening also tied in well with the more experimental performances.
Still in its infancy, Cloud 9 has along way to go, but from a few friends jamming on a beach the festival has grown, and will continue to do so in the future. The organizers hope is that events like this will enable the fragmented efforts of the underground music scene to come together in a new collaborative way.
Festivals still remain limited in Egypt and despite a few teething a problems, Cloud 9 possesses the potential to greatly increase emerging artists access to audiences.
Nader Ahmed, PanSTARRS bassist expressed both hope and skepticism when asked about the emergence of a festival scene in Egypt, expressing his belief that in order for festivals to grow, the bands themselves have to develop.
“Its not going to develop on a pace of its own- if the community itself develops in terms of people finding more time to work on music like this, and more businesses’ invest, then naturally the bands have more quality, then the festivals will have bigger meaning and quality.” He added.
For more pictures, check out Cloud 9 on Facebook right here.