It’s 6 PM and the sun is still high during summer at the Amsterdam Bos. Mixmag is combing the landscape and strolls in on Paquita Gordon to get the Dekmantel Festival started, only to find the intensity of a peak time set ripping through the speakers. This is what you can always expect at Dekmantel. We saw this an hour earlier with Solar and Cinnaman taking us into the void and also with Marie Davidson bashing out a high energy live performance. It doesn’t get dark until 10 PM here, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to find any artists easing into their sets.
This is Dekmantel and they’re here to deliver.
As we do every year, we can confidently say it is one of the best festivals in the world. It's inventive and surprising, but never pretentious or too challenging for those who want to just have a good time. There’s never a minute where you feel unsatisfied by your surroundings - have a dance amongst the plants in the Greenhouse, sway under the trees on the wooden dancefloor of the special Selectors stage, stomp around on the grass admiring the Main Stage perfection, or hit the UFO which is always there to remind you how techno is supposed to be experienced.
Take a trip to Boiler Room for a 360 view (on camera or not), dive into the otherworldly UFO II - and of course don’t forget to groove by the pristine sounding Red Light Radio stage which is smack dab in the middle of the food court. Around every corner, the personal space-respecting crowd is in high spirits and their universal appreciation for the best-of-the-best is fueling their energy.
Dekmantel is a festival you can keep returning to because the line-up is always fresh and exciting, and truly unique to this specific weekend each year. You may plan for the artists you’ve heard of, but your favorite sets will be the ones you stumble into. Even on day three, the energy remains at 100%.
Jeff Mills, Marcel Dettmann, Palms Trax, John Talabot were some of the 2019 closers - with Talabot and Palms Trax working their way from the Greenhouse to the main stage since last year, claiming their well deserved places as Dekmantel headliners.
You’ve seen the videos, Dekmantel’s best can be captured at every angle - crisp sound, creative visuals and lighting design, and a vibing dancefloor at every stage. There is so much thought put into the experience, there really is no other event like it. From a music discovery perspective it’s unrivaled - consider how much time is usually spent wandering around other festivals waiting for something to pull you in. We have full confidence that Dekmantel will keep pushing house and techno (and soundscapes in between) forward, and continue to secure the throne.
As if the full three day festival, plus two days of pre parties weren’t enough - Dekmantel threw afterparties across Amsterdam at Shelter, Temp and DE MARKTKANTINE featuring Marcel Dettmann, Randomer, Blawan, Objekt, Skee Mask & Zenker Brothers and more.
With the immense amount on offer, we present you with a snapshot of the event through a selection of tracks from the weekend, captured from some of the most exciting and memorable performances.
Beginning at the far end of the festival, we went to check out the buzzy Italian DJ, Paquita Gordon. The smooth vinyl-only selector kicked off the Boiler Room stage which was already at full capacity and proceeded to deliver a high energy set of jacking rhythms and euphoric melodies. To finish off her full fledged rager of a set, she threw down the Woodtick Mix of the Moby classic ‘Go’. Its warm soothing melody taken from the cult classic, Twin Peaks, paired with the hard hitting percussion of Moby’s production, properly signaled that our weekend was officially on.
After doing our initial wander around the Bos, providing our first-timer friends with the obligatory tour of the grounds, we made our way to the revamped UFO II stage to check out Amsterdam local Identified Patient. We walked in as he launched into his set with a dubby bass-fueled tune; Alter Echo’s dub version of his collaborative track with E3 titled ‘No Fire’. This unique leftfield cut helped set the tone for his ever evolving set.
One of the artists we were most excited to see tear up the Main Stage (before none other than Mr. Jeff Mills himself) was techno titan Dr. Rubinstein. The colorful Berlin-based DJ set the tone and pace for the night with this appropriately named track from UFO Inc. She brings serious power and personality to her sets, and expect to see her snagging a headlining spot in the near future.
Another ripper from Rubinstein was Voiski’s ‘Drama In The Futurists' Cabaret’, a mesmerizing release from DKMTNL records. We watched the crowd erupt as she dropped this futuristic techno tune characterized by its gritty sonic textures. A massive main stage cut.
It was GUARANTEED GOOD VIBES TIME as we headed to the Greenhouse to claim our space on the platform for Dekmantel Soundsystem. It’s always important to spend some time with the founders as they continue their journey and they relentlessly pumped out feel-good anthems that warm the soul. Kevin Yost’s ‘It’s Getting Bigger’ is a track that permeated through the atmosphere and declared it was time to get down. “Let’s get it on!”
Ben UFO b2b Blawan
Entering the UFO is quite literally like entering another dimension and Ben UFO & Blawan, two UK behemoths of clubland, were made to close out the night in this otherworldly spaceship. Even from the back of the crowd you could feel the energy in full force with uncontainable energy, pumping through the perfect acoustics. We hoping to see these two rip apart a warehouse again sometime soon although their b2b was undoubtedly a special moment.
Octo Octa b2b Eris Drew
At this point, anyone who’s at all invested in quality house music knows about Octo Octa and Eris Drew. These two rising stars have taken the scene by storm over the past few years to become beacons of light, showcasing the best of classic house and rave energy. They dance, they vibe, they deliver only the best house music back to the crowd. Their b2b emitted an unmatched sense of togetherness to a completely invested mainstage audience.
Solar b2b Cinnaman
Mixmag was particularly excited to catch San Francisco DJ, Solar go back to back with one of the most diverse and talented DJs from the Netherlands, Cinnaman. This was the hard-hitting, edgy set we were looking for, amplified by the contained industrial space that is the UFO II. Throughout the session the energy was infectious and prompted festival-goers to give themselves to a proper, sweaty rave.
John Talabot’s Greenhouse set was a Mixmag highlight from Dekmantel in 2018. This year though, he blew us away with a closing set on the Main Stage that couldn’t have been more different. We were transported to dreamland by his trippy, high energy set which ranged from acid to techno to italo-disco - which was all we could’ve hoped for to round out an impressive day two.
Iranian born California-based DJ Mozghan is another exciting talent on our list. We caught her on day three in the UFO II where she threw down this acid house slammer by Cardopusher.
Mixmag has spent loads of time talking about the supremely talented Canadian artist Marie Davidson ever since 'Work It' ranked high on everyone’s top tunes of the year list. Davidson quite literally worked her crowd, at some point ripping her shirt off and embracing the moment. Seeing the day three crowd break it down to her incredible anthem was a definite highlight. We don't just want to see Marie Davidson, we want to be Marie Davidson!
Sunday night we decided to go in. It was UFO time, starting with Dutch techno driver Deniro, who appropriately set the stage for the one and only Marcel Dettmann. We were front left (with earplugs in!) and ready to watch Marcel bang it out. Here we were at the end of an unforgettable weekend listening to techno the way it’s supposed to be heard. There was no going back after we got Dettman-ed, so it was time to say goodbye.
Carré Orenstein is Mixmag's US Partnerships Manager, follow her on Twitter
[Photos: Bart Heemskerk | Yannick van de Wijngaert]
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