Dekmantel 2018

Dekmantel 2018

Written By:

Gabriel Leașcu


August 20, 2018

At its 11th edition Dekmantel 2018 proved to be a music festival that supports artists, famous or not, that take music to different realms and doesn’t compromise. It seems almost utopic to have an event of this scale with a line-up full of names we listen to and admire although at times it can seem a bit overwhelming having to choose from acts happening at the same time in multiple locations.

2. The Center Of The World

Dekmantel 2018. Photo credits: Bart Heemskerk
Dekmantel 2018. Photo credits: Bart Heemskerk

We arrived Thursday the 2nd of August at the opening concerts and we had already picked four acts that we were going to attend, somehow aware that we might experience ‘fomo’ later on.

The first act was ARE PROJECT featuring Chicago’s Hieroglyphic Being, Shabaka Hutchings on percussion and Sarathy Korwar on saxophone, in the TOLHUISTUIN, a club-like venue with smoke machines, lights and everything. At first it seemed a bit early (19:30) for this kind of act, Jamal Moss was playing some sort of mutant Chicago house while the others were virtuously improvising along. Halfway through all of us were dancing like we had been clubbing all night. It is a great experimental project that unfortunately got booked only by Dekmantel this year, a fact that says a lot about how carefully these guys curate their lineup.

Afterwards we took our bikes and then the ferry from Amsterdam Central to Noord and hurried to see Khidja, the Romanian outernational rave duo, playing live in the small room of the Muziekbrouw, an exquisite location with a breathtaking panorama of Amsterdam. The set was so good that right after it ended a bunch of people rushed to congratulate the boys, Andrei Rusu and Florentin Tudor. Later we took a break on the terrace of the monumental Muziekbrouw where a bunch of artists, journalists and festival goers, alongside a smooth A’dam breeze and prolonged sunset, created a very chill, gezellieg atmosphere. Beer was pouring left and right, loud conversations and colorful laughs, you could cut the excitement in the air with a knife. Amsterdam has this power of sometimes creating the feeling that you are in the center of the world, literally and metaphorically, and that night because of Dekmantel we definitely felt that.

The third act on our list, James Holden and the Animal Spirits was a spine chilling, deep trance performance in the big room of the Muzikebrouw; a highlight of the festival probably seen by many, as it’s been active for a while now.

Volition Immanent, the fourth and final act that we choose to see, was a minute away from the other location in club Shelter. The project comprising of Parish Smith and vocalist Mark van de Maat is like a reminiscence of Laisons Dangerous, brought skillfully in the contemporary with techno cuts and sharp synths while Mark is a force of nature on stage, screaming his guts out and moshing with the crowd at the same time.

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3. Dance And Crowd Surfing

Dekmantel 2018. Photo credits: Niels Cornelis Meijer
Dekmantel 2018. Photo credits: Niels Cornelis Meijer

The next day we biked to the Amsterdam forest and it was quite challenging to find the exact location as the forest is huge.

The festival area is enormous and every detail is very well thought out; different types of food trucks, free water and everything that a young middle class raver could need. There are a total of seven stages, each with a great line up. In the beginning this made us wander around in a state of bewilderment, trying to find our spot. At the mainstage Orbital gave an epic set, with the help of sick visuals, lights and smoke. People were dancing, crowd surfing and overall loving the show of the legendary British electronic duo. Other remarkable acts that we got glimpses of were Objekt at the UFO stage, the Dutch talented lo fi producer Palmbomen II, and Samuel Kerridge live in the Ufo II stage, which is a crowded dark sweaty hangar, perfect for the acts that were programmed there. Gesloten Cirkel also played in the UFO II stage and it was predictably very sick, as well as the German producer and fine sound lurker, Toulouse Lowtrax who played a trade mark slowed exotico-industrial live set.

Another act that blew our minds was The Bug feat. Miss Red, a project I was very curious to see because I was listening to them 10 years ago. The high frequency bass combined with Miss Red’s piercing vocals caused a lot of ‘damage’ on the dance floor; people were skanking in unison and at some point formed a wave of movement that was seriously shaking the wooden floor and metal structure of the Greenhouse stage.

For the second year, Dekmantel had invited Red Light Radio to make a stage and it was one of the best places of the festival. Located in the food area, the dj booth was purposely made to look like a little church, which we found very cool and funny. The entire space didn’t have room for more than a few hundred people which made it really cozy and like a breath of fresh air compared to the other stages, which were often overcrowded. Everybody was smiling and the sets were top notch. The Rotterdam based Marsman had a killer set on Friday and by the end of it Hugo, aka DJ Soulseek, from Red Light Radio was voice improvising on the microphone while perched somewhere up on the dj booth. Suzanne Kraft and Johnny Nash had a marvelous disco set that got people ecstatically hugging each other.

There are many acts we wanted to see but missed for different reasons which is a pity. This happens at many big festivals but in Dekmantel’s case it seems like there are two or three festivals happening at the same time and you just have to decide beforehand to which one you want to go. If you don’t come with a plan you can also wander around and check out what sounds best for you. Regardless of where you end up you won’t be disappointed.


*main photo credits: Niels Cornelis Meijer

About the Author

Gabriel Leașcu

Studied anthropology but interested in anything unrelated to academia, loves long walks in other people’s minds.

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