When last year’s edition of Sõru Saund on the Estonian island Hiiumaa was confirmed, it looked as one of few opportunities to join an event in the summer of 2021. Although the modern plague had not disappeared yet, the timing raised hopes that the festival would take off without any major restrictions. Having held since mid-2010’s, initially as Kalana Saund, the festival had moved to the southern tip of the island, to the Port of Sõru, from where across the strait lies Saaremaa, the bigger of two main islands at the west coast of Estonia and traditionally a more popular summer destination.
Sõru Saund, along with a jazz festival simultaneously held on the island, triggered a real pilgrimage to Hiiumaa. After a 1.5-hour ferry trip in stormish seas, the road was open to Sõru. I had missed the opening night on Thursday with the cult psych-pop group Röövel Ööbik, who reanimated “Psychikosmos”, and Valge Tüdruk (White Girl), performing in bikini and yelling ‘hey-hey, I’m a gay’.
On Friday, after hiding from heavy showers in a summer cottage, I headed to the festival venue about 10 pm. DJ Julius, a long-time NYC resident, has been often seen in the homeland during summers and he dropped a compelling vinyl set of deep and tech house, hailed by the enthusiastic crowd. Another Estonian in NYC, Umru, performed a hyperactive hypnopop set, which was not quite my taste, but the passion and energy on the stage, with AJ Simons on vocals, was worth watching and listening.
Florian Wahl – a provocative performer fond of role plays and uniforms – either appearing as neoromantic diva or authoritarian military, used German spoken word and a lot of glitz and glitter for a theatrical bliss. The last live came from Pageant, a witch house camp techno outfit, starting with obscene lines of poetry and overrunning the crowd with fierce speed noise with Artur MCing like hell.
Saturday morning was sunny, though windy, and after dipping into a warm sea (about 19 C) at a secluded beach on Hiiumaa’s west coast, it was time to explore the night’s program. Ivo Linna, ‘the least hated man in Estonia’ (Facebook quote by Raul Saaremets, one of the event’s organizers), spun an educational The Beatles tribute. Valner Valme seriously revised my understanding about Future Sound of London, when playing a special DJ set dedicated to the UK duo. Though aware of their several side projects, it was surprising how hardcore it went in some parts.
Jimi Tenor was clearly the festival’s headliner, treating the crowd both with jazzy cosmica and smash beats, not forgetting his classics like “Take Me Baby”. In the main room, live performances moved to the realms of deep electronics by Kalm and by Hüpnosaurus, a project of the Estonian electronics legend Aivar Tõnso, with a great flow of ethereal and hydraulic sounds. After that, in the dance tent, the night was rounded up by cool lunacy of the DJ duo Dima Disk.
In 2022, Sõru Saund will come again, scheduled to the weekend from 28 to 31 July. A charming island, summerly atmosphere and expected versatile lineup speaks for another visit – I didn’t hesitate to get the early bird ticket.
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