1st – 3rd August
Dekmantel festival was hosted in the prime location of the Amsterdam Bos, a wooded area a short drive south west of the city. Entering was immediately thrilling upon being greeted by the wall of sound and colour that was the main stage. The UFO tent provided some much needed darkness in the bright Amsterdam day to enable an environment for bookings like Steffi b2b Answer Code Request at 3pm to work well in. Slightly deeper into the forest there was nestled The Woods, Boiler Room and Selectors stages – the latter the pick of the bunch with the surrounding trees enclosing it decoratively. The site was also pleasingly small without feeling crowded, with such an astoundingly strong line up minimal travelling time between stages was welcome.
It was at the Selectors stage that DJ Harvey performed the standout set of Friday. Some fine programming allowed the legend 3 hours to delight the crowd with his highly danceable disco crate. Elsewhere, Jackmaster and Oneman were throwing down a typically lively set, pulling out mixes such as ‘Stop Dat’ into ‘Giggle Riddim’ and closing on Toto’s ‘Africa’.
On Saturday whilst the forest area of the site was closed off as a precaution against the threatened storm, Bicep helped keep the summery atmosphere in place by playing tracks like Beesmunt Soundsystem’s ‘How I Wish and Caribou’s ‘Can’t Do Without You’ in a house laden set. Despite the metereologic storm not occurring, the UFO tent still nearly blew away under the strain of Rødhåd’s thumping techno masterclass. The Norwegian induced the most fist-pumping of any set across the weekend as the crowd quickly pieced themselves back together following the mind blowing performance of Shackleton’s exceptionally crafted live set of intricate sounds.
A Joy Orbison set is always hotly anticipated, but his previous week’s incredible essential mix ramped up expectation even further and he truly delivered. A number of the tracks from his lauded Radio 1 appearance were aired, sounding even better on the main stage’s formidable funktion one rig. Other highlights included North Lake’s acidic roller ‘Griswold’ and Daphni’s afro-house remix of ‘Ne Noya’. Dan Snaith’s headline slot that night clearly influencing the selection of DJs further down the bill.
Sunday saw Ben UFO do some sole selecting following his Hessle Audio Trio appearance the day before. At a festival with the calibre of bill and as clash ridden as Dekmantel there’s not many DJs I would stick around watching for a full 3 hours, but Ben UFO is one of those. His sets are always varied and interesting, no better exemplified by the ten minute salvo of Sizzla’s ‘Run Pon Dem’ into Night Slugs anthem ‘Icy Lake’ into Sound Stream. Perhaps only Motor City Drum Ensemble later that day in the Boiler Room drew a more fervent crowd reaction. The man responsible for one of the most loved Boiler Rooms was in equally fine form in his second appearance with joyous disco abound.
Huge credit must go to the Dekmantel team. In only its second year, the festival was remarkably assured in its organisation and execution. Problems at an event of such a scale are inevitable, but all potential disasters were dealt with expertly: Karenn’s forced pull out on Friday was resolved by finding space on Sunday’s bill for the techno two piece, measures against the predicted storm were in place and Tasker was sworn on oath to refrain from reloading Motor City Drum Ensemble’s selections.
And whilst the lack of a late license was perhaps not ideal – there’s not much like a rammed shuttle bus queue to stifle your buzz before an after party – the quality of the after parties quickly quashed this gripe. When your only issue is something that results in watching Ben Klock b2b Marcel Dettmann pummelling the main room of Trouw in the early hours of Monday morning it’s certainly nothing to complain about, and really demonstrates how fantastic a festival Dekmantel was.