It was almost too good to be true. Four Tet, Grimes, The XX, SBTRKT, Koreless, Jon Talabot, Sampha and more on a beach just north of the Mayan Ruins in Tulum, Mexico. What a way to bring in 2014. It was with baited breath and a sense of the unknown that I travelled to Tulum, Mexico for New Years to see if Young Turks could pull off an event which brought with it such lofty expectations.
A few days prior to the main event, Young Turks kicked off proceedings with a party on short notice in a bar in the jungle featuring John Talabot, Pional and Tasker. It was a taste of what was to come, with a fun set by Pional re-introducing us all to the Young Turks 2013-2014 catalogue of hits, followed by a serious set of well-transitioned disco by Jon Talabot that had the steamy, overcrowded dancefloor of Mexi-Brits heaving.
A small bout of food poisoning had me reassess my ambitions in tackling the mammoth main event that was scheduled to run from 8pm NYE- 12pm NYD. A sunrise set by Koreless was a must-see, so I arrived at the party at 3am – as the majority of party-goers were streaming out after what I gather was a well polished performance by The XX. Grimes then made her way to the stage full of energy with two male backing dancers by her side. Unfortunately, technical difficulties were a constant bother and managed to overshadow the set. We were graced with two versions of 'Oblivion' back to back – one with and one without vocals. Grimes left us with a 'Happy New Year' greeting in Spanish which translated to 'Happy One Good' – a fitting farewell to a set that was entertaining, but a little off the mark.
After a short break, SBTRKT came to the stage and got the dancefloor moving again with a hip-hop heavy set, featuring a smattering of SBTRKT originals thrown in for good measure – Sampha's pre-recorded vocals blared out of the speakers, as the singer himself perhaps took a nap backstage following his 9pm set. It was towards the end of SBTRKT's set that the evening started to become rather mystical. As the darkened sky started to ease up over the beach and a slither of sun poked through, we were treated to 'Crew Love' by Drake ft The Weeknd which sent chills down my spine. SBTRKT ended his set with a short snippet of 'Runaway', a new song of his featuring Jessie Ware and Sampha which sounded very promising. But it only got better. At 6.10am, Koreless came to the stage and delivered tracks off his Yugen EP, with 'Sun' obviously coming at the most appropriate moment. One unknown atmospheric track was particularly special. At this point in time, everyone (including Sampha who seemed to have woken up from his nap) had migrated beachside with camera-phones in tow – soaking up the beautiful Mexican sunrise.
Pional was next to the stage, bringing everyone out of their dreams and back into drug-fueled reality. He kept the crowd moving, and slowly built his set with 'Sleep Sound' by Jamie XX a crowd favourite. Finally, at 7:40am, Four Tet made his way to the sun-soaked stage and began with 'Sing' to an audience with new found rigour. The old faithful played hit after hit, opting for a bass heavy collection of jams, pumping through the impressive sound system. A heavy downpour mid way through did nothing to dampen the spirits, with the beach-soggy collective opting to dance on in amongst warm showers and rainbows.
Words: Jared Proudfoot