Dekmantel is probably the best house and techno festival in Europe.
Its third edition has just finished and, thanks to three days and four nights of excellent electronic music, its reputation is only going to grow.
That's down to its lush forest location, with five areas – the main stage, UFO tent, Selectors, The Lab and Boiler Room – nestled into the green surrounds. Each 'stage' has its own vibe, from the roaring adrenalin rush of the UFO to the communal euphoria of the main stage to the garden party fun of The Lab, and the whole site can be walked around in about 10 minutes, meaning you're never far from your friends. With great sound quality and on-point talent, it's no wonder this place is so popular: those visiting remark how this'd never happen in their home cities while the locals who come love having such a fresh, assured festival on their front doorstep.
To be frank, the daytime festival steals the show. Sun-splashed, friendly and full of people exuding excitement, you'd be happy enough hitting it from midday to 11pm each day. However, there are afterparties, all hosted at Melkweg (instead of the sadly departed Trouw), which boast impressive line-ups that act as tasty bait for the straight-through-crew. The venue holds up to four rooms and while not as warm and intimate as Trouw, it does its job well.
Then, like every good time, there are the little moments that totally make it: Shackleton unleashing a gigantic version of 'Deadman' to a rampant crowd, Villalobos playing an ode to Detroit before handing the main stage reins over to Model 500, Matrixmann's 'Protocol' dominating day and night dancefloors, three hepped-up, super-sculpted techno vikings dancing wild through the crowds, an entire bar staff jumping around to Rodhad, security guards jamming to Jeff Mills, the plants placed around The Lab that make you feel like you're on a Balearic island full of sunshine and crucial techno...
So here's 12 tracks that prove how good Dekmantel is. And further details of the festival in all its thumpin' glory. Roll on 2016.
1 Floorplan 'Baby, Baby'
Played by Ricardo Villalobos & Zip on Friday afternoon: This year's edition of Dekmantel featured an opening show in a concert venue on the river. We arrived as the sun was setting, in time for a total brain rewiring courtesy of legendary avant rave unit Autechre. It was an intense way to begin, something of a baptism of squiggly electronic fire, but a welcome one. And by the time the gates of the site set in the verdant Amsterdamse Bos opened on Saturday afternoon, we were as hyped to get going as the 10,000 other festival goers who had helped sell out the weekend event.
We caught a bit of Shed, who was intent on waking everyone up with a bang in the UFO tent, before heading to the main stage to lock into Ricardo Villalobos back-to-back with Zip. After everyone, except Mixmag, gave Ricky an ear-bashing over his set at Cocoon In The Park a few weeks back, we were keen to see if the world's most notorious DJ would bring the heat alongside Zip. Well, he did, and three hours flew past in a heartbeat. Of course it wasn't 180 minutes of straight bangers, there were dream-like interludes, whimsical tangents and a few 40-minute segments of sheer, rolling bliss. It was a real journey and although we hate to use a cliche, nothing else does that session in the blazing sun justice. Highlight? Ricardo dropping 'Baby Baby' by Floorplan at a slowed 123bpm.