Any Amsterdam resident knows that there is no telling what Dutch weather will be like each summer, and out of the hundreds of amazing festivals that we are treated to over the season, a hand full might have had to cancel due to harsh weather conditions. Some festival organisations take their chances with September, but once October sets in, all we can do is accept that all outdoor festivals are over and simply wait for ADE. Or not?

Experienced festival-goers who select their events based upon the quality of the lineup won’t have a very hard time prolonging the festival season if they are prepared to take a short plane trip abroad. Often enough this even means you can catch some bright autumn sun rays, which is a win-win!
After a 10 day vacation in Marrakech last September, we looked back on a positive experience after attending the three day festival OASIS.
Friends and local residents brought our attention to Moga festival, held a month later and which they convened to be an event of similar standard, albeit with a much more experimental musical vibe but less slick and commercial character. You can imagine after 3 weeks of pouring rain every day in Amsterdam, another escape to the Moroccan sun combined with a festival simply became irresistible.

Moga is held in Essaouira, a little coastal town located approximately 3 hours away from Marrakech. Its colorful medina is recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site, and its historical fortress and city walls adorned with old canons have been the set for a number of Game of Thrones episodes. Along with the beachy vibes, an idyllic location to host a festival that will allow attendees to sniff some culture at the same time.

A short taxi ride brings us from the medina to the Sofitel Essaouira Mogador Golf & Spa resort, the home of Moga Festival. Greeted by quite a long line at the gate, our spirits are lifted again once we enter the venue via the Garden stage which is gorgeously decorated with hanging wisteria flowers. Even on the first day of the festival, the programming of this stage does not hold back, serving firm beats straight from the get-go. Therefore we prefer the Terrasse stage where we feel the rhythms are built up at a more conscious pace. Local hero Amine K B2B with New York’s finest Sabo are up to a solid start, with finally Behrouz giving us a taste of what’s to come the next day.

Unfortunately too late for the yoga session, we make our entrance on Saturday afternoon a little later than planned but just in time to see Parallells at the Garden stage.
This French live music and DJ-duo have teamed up with Maalem Hayat, creating a magical harmony between electronic music and authentic gnawa folklore. The crowd completely eats it up and keeps dancing to the uplifting beats while the sun starts to set. An act so good that it would have been way too hard to follow for anyone else other than Madmotormiquel. The baton is passed over to this German born dj at dusk, who masterfully maintains the steady vibe.

Electronic, Desert House, Tribal, Oriental, Gnawa, Experimental, Techno.

Walking around the festival grounds we are having a tough time deciding where to go, the music sounds great everywhere. We decide to do a little dance during Yokoo’s set before heading over to the dynamic and very compelling Blond:ish and completely feeling entranced by the tribal beats from Mr ID. This was really a day full of surprising music at a high standard.

Sunday starts off with a much more chilled out atmosphere, and it seems that even towards the evening there are not that many spectators present. Maybe those with work on Monday have already decided to leave, maybe some have partied a little too hard to make the third day. The die-hards and real music lovers however, are here to stay.
On a different note, what stood out was that even with such a small crowd and thus lower pressure, organizational kinks were still in no rush to be smoothed over. A lot of the beverages at the bar were still not restocked since Friday, and the same bathrooms are clogged since the day before.
Adopting the slow pace, we enjoy some of the laidback sets from an array of local dj’s from the comfort of our lounge beds, followed by a beautiful set by Sainte Vie at the Pool Stage. Highlight of the night is Satori, who takes us on quite an enchanting musical journey as he plays various live instruments to compliment his dreamy set.
After this we make our way over to the Silent Disco area, which at many other festivals is treated like a gimmick with the dj’s playing sing-along pop tunes. Not at Moga! Here local dj’s play experimental upbeat deephouse with an ethnic vibe, if that could ever sound like a potent attempt to define the genre… The beats really have us feeling like in a trance and the surreal environment of a graffiti-clad bus with dj-booth only hightens that feel. We just HAVE to keep dancing until our legs won’t allow us anymore.
Visiting the SO stage inside the club, we get rid of our last bits of energy before we make our way home.

Sure, there might have been some organizational issues that would really require some attention next time, and not every detail is up to par. The market area was quite hidden and most stalls were empty rather than occupied most of the time. Moreover, the food vendors left quite a lot to wish for.
All in all however, this young festival (third year in 2019) did totally meet our preconceived expectations as a more musically experimental festival where the crowd is more diverse and people feel comfortable to dress creatively. And even though there is obvious commercial sponsoring, it’s displayed without this feeling like too much of a focus. The focus is obviously the music, and that is where they completely excelled! We left Essaouira still mesmerized by the persuasive and vigorous taste of melodies we had been served up with.

Our Favorite Looks

We’ve selected some of the best festival looks we have seen at MOGA 2019:

Intense ensembles worn by an intense ensemble