Live Review: Dekmantel 2014

DJ Harvey closing Sole Selectors stage

DJ Harvey closing Sole Selectors stage

With such a turgidly talented line-up, where every act could be a headliner in themselves, Dekmantel had set the bar incredibly high for itself. A risky move given this being only its second edition. However, despite its youth as a festival, the Dekmantel team is an amalgamation of clearly adept organisers, who also run the Dekmantel label, booking agency and another Amsterdam festival, Lente Kabinet. In short, the Dekmantel team knew what they were doing and this was indeed felt upon attendance.

Before getting onto the immense talent to grace the five stages over the weekend, the stages and site themselves were highly impressive, with four very different structures offering a variety of feels. The main stage was truly a game changer, comprising of geometric structures and brilliant surrounding visuals, and thanks to the use of a giant white open-sided gazebo, managed to maintain a wonderful outdoorsy feel whilst establishing a sense of inclusion. Early on in the days, we dozed and lay about by the mainbstage, captivated by Magic Mountain High’s bold live set. Yet at night we came together as a heaving mass for heavier sets such as Joy Orbison on Saturday evening. Thanks to the fan shape of the stage’s space, dancing and navigating the crowd was always done with the utmost ease. In fact this was the case for the whole site in general, which we were able to traverse in a matter of minutes. Whether it was to the only indoor stage, UFO, which consequently allowed for the creation of darker and deeper atmospheres despite the sun shining outside; perfect for Jimmy Edgar’s Friday afternoon hard-hitting salacious set. Or to Boiler Room‘s intimate affair under a scrap metal structure for MCDE‘s magical afternoon dance party.

Into the woods for RBMA’s stage and the glorious Selectors stage, which was nestled among the trees and at the base of a comfortingly grandeur Willow Tree. These two stages played host to some of the best sets of the weekend, including DJ Harvey’s four-hour Saturday evening aural massage and home-town b2b set from Cinnaman and Tom Trago, which let me into Amsterdam’s little secret and musical family, as the Rush Hour family and crowd all bumped and pumped in unison. Despite all the other stages meeting the talent of the acts with exquisite and adequately loud function-one sound systems, unfortunately the sound on the RBMA stage was one of Dekmantel’s few shortcomings. With problems occurring throughout 3 Chairs’ Saturday set and often falling prey to the dreaded sound bleed that too often occurs at festivals. Despite the sound-problems, Theo, Kenny, Marcellus and Rick held their own (of course) and took the suitably allotted six hours to meander their way through a melange of black dance music. Kindly they also invited the two of the most distinguished DJs of Detroit’s younger generation, Kyle Hall and Jay Daniel, after their set was cancelled due to earlier storms. Rather thrillingly, the Woods became an impromptu showcase for Detroit’s most esteemed talent.

Dekmantel as a festival had my opinions fluctuating. From at first thinking it was a bit ‘too cool for school’ and lacking a bit of that rough-egded wildness that permeates the festivals at which people really party; to then realising that this coolness actually resulted from the genuine maturity and calmness of the festival. At no point was any interaction unpleasant, stressful or annoying. Rather, the weekend was relaxing and then stimulating when you wanted and chose it to be. Dekmantel almost felt like the equivalent of summer camp for electronic music heads, getting us up early to catch Joey Anderson at 3pm, Prosumer working our muscles with an irresistible afternoon dance set, then Daphni’s utterly awe-inspiring set on Saturday evening, which included one of my favourite ever house tracks Jodeci’s Freak n You (MK Dub) and dropping his brand new anthem under his Caribou moniker, Can’t Do Without You. Daphni blew our minds and then sent us home at 11pm before anyone got too messy. Dekmantel was the most sensible unsensible fun, with the now tried-and-tested best festival line-up ever known.

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