Picture this: five days of electronic music by the beach, sunsets over the ocean, and a charming, laidback atmosphere. Sounds nice, right? It felt even nicer to be there. Last week, Moga festival celebrated its third edition on the sun-kissed coast of Caparica (Portugal), where festival-goers enjoyed a bunch of day parties, boat parties, and official after parties. Parties all around!
Originally born in Essaouira in 2016, the festival is now strengthening its place in Portugal, which shares the same relaxed, surf-oriented lifestyle as its Moroccan counterpart. The organisers decided to connect the two Atlantic-bathed countries back in 2021, right after the pandemic. It was a bold move, but after its third edition in Portugal, it definitely looks like it’s paid back. We were there to celebrate it, and here’s how it went.
After the first two days of successful boat parties across the Tagus river despite the threat of heavy rain, the main festival kicked off on a sunny Friday at Posto da Onda, one of the two main stages. The first artists – including local acts by Sara Wual, Tiago Oudman and Ze Pedro Moura – started pretty chill, making the audience feel free to enjoy the beautiful surroundings while listening to the music.
Lovefingers took to the decks while the sun was setting, and his two-hour-long set reflected that. Starting off with more jazzy tunes, the American DJ moved to more dance-y hits like Josh Wink’s famous Higher State of Consciousness, which energised the audience and set the tone for the rest of the night.
He was followed by Bradley Zero, which everyone had high expectations for. The London-based tastemaker picked up where Lovefingers left: high energy, a devoted audience, and a lit dance floor. And even though we had fun dancing to his house hits, as time passed by, his set felt a bit flat. New York legend Kerri Chandler was in charge of closing the night, and he did so on a more positive note. His soulful selection got us back to celebrating house music at its best, and people got together to dance till the end.
On Saturday, the perfect start was Oceanvs Orientalis. Known for his mystic, ethereal music, the Turkish-born artist did a live set that felt as warm and embracing as the sun rays on the Caparica coast, blending electronic sounds with traditional oriental instruments. After him, Monile, one of the few female artists on the line-up, turned the energy up with a more uplifting set.
We moved to Irmao, the second main stage, which was bigger and decorated with a massive disco ball that turned the atmosphere into a glimmering mirage. Once we got there, we enjoyed one of the best acts of that night: Chaim b2b Jenia Tarsol. Their collaborative set felt more club-oriented than others, with faster BPMs booming on our chests and a masterful combination of drums, techno, and house.
Shanti Celeste kept it clubby as well with a vivacious, banging set, perfect to finish our night on the beach. From there, we headed to the official after party at Magic Yard, an impressive house that held three different stages: Yard, Moga, and Lifestyling. Two of them were on the outside amidst a lush, giant garden that made you feel like in an enchanted forest. The indoor stage was more focused on darker, harder techno, and it was perfect for those looking to be more alienated. If Moga is famous for its beautiful sunsets, we have to admit we saw the sunrise too… and it was pure bliss.
After a well-deserved rest, we went back to Irmao on Sunday afternoon to celebrate our last day there. Sadar Bahar understood the assignment perfectly: his set was very harmonious, uplifting enough to dance yet chill enough to take some breaks. Hunee, on the other side, took it slower, playing a more relaxed set that everyone seemed to enjoy. The icing on the cake was Danilo Plessow aka MCDE. He closed the festival on a higher note – not too high though because people had a life to get back to on Monday. We all danced to his vibrant selection, which proves once again why he’s one of the most knowledgeable DJs out there.
Moga is cementing its place as a niche festival for people who look forward to living an experience that goes beyond music. Yes, house music is a tremendously powerful tool to unite us all, which we experienced all throughout the festival – everyone was chilling, smiling, and vibing together. But it’s also important to know the organisation is committed to supporting local artists and businesses, its surroundings, and the environment in general. Moga checks all the boxes. And now, we’re waiting impatiently for October to come so we can celebrate Moga Essaouira. See you there!