The rule has always stood (by orders from Papa Sven himself, no less) that Cocoon doesn’t kick off until after Sonar. Techno aficionados with the means and will to travel the globe in search of the best parties have already made their plans, and when Monday night’s festivities kicked off at Amnesia, were likely already tucked inside hotel rooms across Barcelona, resting up for Sonar's many parties.

This seemed to have unfortunately taken a toll on attendance for Cocoon's opening. In years past, one could hardly even move through the sea of bodies during the peak hours of 5 to 6am. In contrast, the rear of Amnesia’s cavernous terrace seemed almost barren on Monday, though it did make for plenty of danceable territory, which is always a major plus. Those who chose to leave early (which many seemed to have done) or not come at all, however, did miss out on another bang on show by the Cocoon family.

Over in the main room, Guy Gerber got things warmed up with his slow, groovy jams as the new LED screen hung overhead, churning out images of deep space, the orange Cocoon logo slow fading in and out – quite fitting for the Israeli’s dreamy, spaced out tunes.

Once it was time for Sven, however, the room was chomping at the bit for the energy to get kicked up a notch, and the maestro didn’t disappoint, unleashing a torrent of banging techno straight from the start. Though banging, Sven kept things feeling a bit more classic, full of chunky rhythms and piercing high hats. It wasn’t until later that he brought the set down to more familiar Amnesia main room territory – twisted, dark and funky, though still full bore techno.

It will be interesting to see how the new, lowered DJ booth suits the techno goliath over the season. Though the towering booth would never suit artists like Carola or Dice, watching Sven command the main room from high in his perch like a king in front of his empire was always a treat.

The terrace got quite a surprise with Julien Bracht, who switched between live drums and an Ableton controller setup from the opposite side of the room than the DJ box, rolling between break-beat techno and four on the floor. While everyone seemed impressed and engrossed, the general feeling of the room sided more on mystified than electrified.

Then came crowd favorite Ricardo Villalobos, who also surprised with a much more energetic and in your face set than anything seen last season, mixing tracks that almost verged on tech house. His rip-roaring edit of the timeless ‘Age Of Love’ pushed the crowd right over the edge, teasing them with snippets of that unmistakable vocal until they almost burst. Ricardo was clearly enjoying his time back on the terrace.

With so much underground competition on the island this season, it’s going to take a lot for any brand to keep up, even one as iconic as Cocoon. But even with this slower than normal start, one look at the lineup over the coming weeks (Adam Beyer and Dubfire in the main room next week, for example) bodes well for another wild and successful season.  

Pictures: David Pareja

Listen to Cocoon on Pulse Radio.