MDLBEAST’s SOUNDSTORM Review: Middle East’s Flagship Festival Amazes With Third Edition

MDLBEAST is a Saudi Arabian events brand that is known for producing large-scale music festivals and concerts. The brand was founded in 2017 and has quickly become one of the most popular and successful events companies in the Middle East. Their flagship event SOUNDSTORM took place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on December 1, 2 & 3.

With over 600,000 attendees across the three days, MDLBEAST’s SOUNDSTORM celebrated its third iteration the right way. The greatly expanded festival (now 5,533,985 sqm of festival space) is now like a full town, with 7 stages and over 200 artists – music was aplenty over the three days.

The Festival

The festival site was enormous. Being largely flat, it was possible to see elements of the mainstage from what seemed like kilometers away at the other end of the grounds which makes sense given the grounds were a staggering 5.5 million square meters. On one end of the site was the boundless mainstage, measuring in at a massive 135.5 feet – which lands it in the Guinness World Records. The moshpit in front of the stage encompassed a neverending sea of people. On the other end of the grounds was the Down Beast (live) stage as well as the Dance Tent and of course the four underground stages. The dance tent was very good, providing a great mosh area and the lighting and visuals were next level, especially for acts such as Eric Prydz. Apart from a hiccup on day one, which meant set times shifted and the stage was closed for over an hour – the dance tent was one of the best places to be at the festival.

Surrounded by over 1300 shipping containers, the Underground stages created a unique design. That was a double-edged sword – the sound was not as good as in other stages. The sound was echoing after bouncing off the containers, more sound absorption would have avoided this issue.

The premium ticket allowed for better areas as well as an elevated walkway which granted access to a quicker way from one side of the festival to the other. There were better views and it was a much better experience. One issue with the walkway was accessing it. There were only two ways of getting to it (that we found over three days). Getting t certain areas was extremely annoying if the entrance was 300 metres away. It was still a very good addition to the festival and is a big reason to upgrade your ticket. I hope it is implemented at other festivals.

The Music

The music choices were incredible, thanks to 7 stages and over 200 artists – there was something for everyone. The mainstage presented an eclectic range of music, but no matter who was playing it was a great experience thanks to the visual elements, crazy SFX and the staggering amount of people partying.

The inclusion of acts such as Post Malone and Bruno Mars was positive. Everyone knows who they are and they understandably drew the largest crowds. It was good to break up the hard-hitting dance music with commercial and recognizable music. Not every day do you have the opportunity to see Post Malone, Bruno Mars and DJ Khalid across three days, together with the best DJs in the world.

Not a lot of festivals fully embrace underground sounds, but SOUNDSTORM jumped head first with their four underground stages, which happened to be constructed with over 1,300 shipping containers. The underground stages consisted of some one of kind performances from Cirez D, Artbat, Carl Cox b2b Nic Fanciulli, Carl Cox solo, Jamie Jones b2b Seth Troxler, Polo & Pan, Adam Beyer, Maceo Plex, Anna, Hot Since 82, Luciano, Solomun, Solardo, James Hype, Art Department, Chris Lake and more.

The Location

Where do you start with Saudi Arabia? The troubled country has not been seen in a positive light in recent times. Many in western cultures may dismiss the territory entirely. Many have a poor view of the country. Whilst there is certainly credence to the negative view of the country – Saudi Arabia was different from what many would assume. The people were warm and welcoming and there was a good mix of western culture within their own nuanced culture.

Even without alcohol, the attendees (the majority from Saudi Arabia) were extremely energetic and jumping around more so than if they were intoxicated! When an oppressed nation finally gets to party, years of energy is built up…

The festival was an incredible three days and I cannot wait to attend again. SOUNDSTORM definitely deserves to be in the same discussions as the likes of Tomorrowland, Ultra and other major festivals around the world. MDLBEAST is doing a very good job at changing Saudi Arabia for the better and guiding the music industry as it increases its reach within the region. If you are thinking of going, you should. These artists and experiences do not come along often, you won’t be able to whip the smile off your face.




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