Amsterdam Dance Event
The annual Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) is one of dance music’s meeting points in Europe and its 19th edition lived up to its reputation. ADE is so much more than another electronic music festival, it’s both a conference and a festival. ADE is also a melting pot of artists, managers, labels, journalists and all kinds of industry representatives, coming from the four corners of the world. It’s an opportunity to learn from the business’s A-list names, to network and to have fun. Unlike most festivals, which take place at a single venue, ADE turns the whole city of Amsterdam into a festival, as almost all of its clubs and bars are part of the festival programme.
The festival, which by the way is widely promoted by the Amsterdam municipality, attracted a total of 350,000 visitors this year. ADE’s conference programme was attended by 5,200 professionals, whereas the Playground’s attendance numbers hit 15,000. Over 2000 artists played at 400 events dotted around the cities 80 venues, during the five days of ADE.
ADE Pro, comprising the professional part of the festival programme, was hosted at several locations throughout Amsterdam, with its epicentre at the monumental Felix Meritis building in downtown Amsterdam. The conference panels included Q&A sessions with DJs and producers, panels with important industry figures and discussions on a broad range of topics like events organisation, music management and music journalism.
The best part of Thursday’s conference agenda was Seth Troxler’s speech. The eccentric DJ has never hidden his thoughts on the state of dance music. Recently, he has expressed his opinion in a thorough feature on Thump, emphasising the abundance of parties and festivals weighs on the quality side of the scene. He wrote that EDM has bred a generation of festival-goers who lack any understanding of club culture. Cool as always, Troxler set foot in the Felix Meritis building sporting a noir et blanc suit. You might have expected him to talk some more about the war between the underground and the mainstream. On the contrary, the Detroit-born and raised artist was very positive, emphasising the strength and the future of underground music. In Seth’s eyes, the underground is stronger than ever. It is some kids listening to music we have never heard of in their basement, forging dance music’s future without even knowing it. The US DJ didn’t miss the opportunity to talk about media’s responsibility when writing about music, because of its influence over young kids. As candid as he is, Troxler found the time to talk about equality. We’re different, but we’re all the same”, the DJ said. When asked about the polarised paradigm between the commercial and the underground, Troxler said that the two scenes could coexist, but that they are fundamentally different. He concluded that the underground has always been a means to differentiate yourself; it is more of a culture, than just a business.
On Friday it was hard to decide which panel to attend such was the strength of the programme. The speakers ranged from Live Nation’s James Barton, to Trouw’s Olaf Boswijk and Monsieur Laurent Garnier himself. The most interesting panel, in my opinion, was the talk entitled “Brave New World of Dance Music Journalism”. The distinguished speakers included Mixmag’s editor in chief Nick DeCosemo, Reddit’s Rafael Weiss, XLR8R’s Shawn Reynaldo and Thump’s Zel McCarthy. The discussion looked to explore the troubles of print media, freedom of speech struggles and the quality of music writing. As print media has been declared if not dead, than at least not the most successful business model in any media nowadays, the media gurus talked about the importance of offering other things to your readers, such as web features, events, video, live streaming, exclusive downloads and podcasts. Still, artists want to see their interview in the print edition, because it’s a tangible thing, says Nick. The editors in chief agreed that electronic music media should report controversies, instead of provoking them, when referring to the so-called “Bathgate” – the enormous media attention to Nina Kraviz’s bubble bath interview for Resident Advisor. Another opinion the media heads all confirmed is that the quality of music writing has definitely declined, due to the fact that music journalism does not always pay the bills and most media hire interns to do real journalism work for free or for very limited cash. The music journalism experts also shared their experience in dealing with management frustration over critical editorial they had done for certain artists and concluded that this was part of the job.
The clubbing experience at ADE kicked off on Thursday with DGTL presents: Life and Death – an event hosted at a warehouse club in the north part of Amsterdam dubbed Scheepsbouwloods. The line-up of this rave was amazing – Tale of Us, DJ Harvey and DJ Tennis. On the downside, Scheepsbouwloods is located in the northern part of the city, which makes it reachable only by car or by ferry. Nevertheless, the venue is so underground and industrial, it makes the entire experience even more enjoyable. Tale of Us were the main act on the line-up and they did not disappoint. On the contrary, they played just what you would expect to hear from them at such an event. Their trippy atmospheric techno was the perfect soundtrack to this obscure location. At the same time in the other room DJ Harvey was enchanting the ravers with his groovy disco set.
Friday was the most interesting night in terms of events. At festivals such as ADE or Sonar, you have to make tough choices as to what to see and what to miss. Maceo Plex and Danny Daze’s gig at the marvellous Koncertgebouw concert was one of the best parties at the entire festival. It was not just about the killer line-up though. The eclectic location turned the entire event into an exciting amalgamation of classical music and techno, thus turning it into a completely different experience. What is more, the crowd were very cool underground people, no teens and definitely no EDM kids. The vibe was intoxicating, as the techno sounds mixed with the amazing interior of the hall. Can you imagine watching Maceo Plex play his sexy beats in the dark hall, right in front of a huge classical music organ? The view is indeed overwhelming. There was even a second room, where the music was more on the house side, thus allowing clubbers to take a breath of fresh air after having danced for hours to the raw techno in the main room.
Another interesting event on Friday’s agenda was Defected in the House’s party at club AIR, with the live performance of Hercules and Love Affair being the highlight of the evening. In addition to the infamous band, the line-up featured also the likes of Noir, Sonny Fodera and Oliver $. Hercules and Love Affair played their new album Feast of the Broken Heart, along with songs from their previous two LPs. Their performance was so blissful, as the angelic voice of Gustav mixed with the husky voice of Rouge Mary. In AIR’s small room, Sonny Fodera was playing fine house music that could make anybody dance. This was a great chance to hear high quality house music at a festival so dominated by techno.
Seth Troxler’s Big Tittie Surprise party on Saturday at Roest was probably the best event all together, not only because of the smashing line-up, but also because of the wonderful work the organisers had done to the place. Right at the entrance there was a huge inflatable vagina. You could actually get inside the inflatable body part. Moreover, a guy wearing a dolphin mask and fake boobs was hanging out in front of it, luring festival-goers to take pictures with him. As tacky as it may sound there was a karaoke booth, playing mostly cheesy pop songs, from Britney Spears to Robbie Williams. Next to it, there was a sauna cabin and surprisingly, another party was going on inside. The walls in the main room were decorated with sex dolls and planet models were hanging out of the ceiling. The DJ booth was located between a pair of female legs -that were wide spread and gigantic. The party started with Jackmaster’s heart-stopping set, and that was one of the evening’s highlights. After Jackmaster, Seth Troxler himself stepped behind the decks sporting a blond wig and a crop top. Listening to his mixes is always a pleasure, as they are never alike. You never know what he will play and that is what makes it fun. After Troxler, the legend Kerri Chandler took over. It goes without saying that he delivered.
ADE is one of the very few festivals in Europe that offer a clubbing experience to festival-goers. That is a big plus because it turns ADE into a completely different experience. It’s a mixture of club and festival culture. Nevertheless, ADE is also a festival that offers both mainstream acts and underground avant-garde, but located at different venues. ADE is the perfect hybrid between the intimacy of a dark nightclub and the abundance of a big outdoor festival.
By Mira Karadjova
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