_Opinion: Dekmantel's Sophisticated Playground

_Opinion: Dekmantel's Sophisticated Playground

After hearing endless good things about the festival from friends and music enthusiasts alike, I had the wonderful pleasure of attending Dekmantel festival’s fourth edition, held in the green and leafy national forest of Amsterdamse Bos, located south west of the capital. Needless to say the gushing praise I had encountered prior to going was rightly deserved.

With such a mammoth program to enjoy, it was humanly possible for me to document all my thoughts on the sensational music offering that was rest-assured guaranteed across the various stages. There are however a few stand-out moments that the old noggin managed to preserve.

      Amongst a sea of star-studded acts, Friday’s line-up boasted techno heavyweights Surgeon (UFO stage) and Jeff Mills (Main stage), with minimal techno enthusiast Ricardo Villalobos setting the scene aptly on the main stage for his fellow fanatics with a stonking two and half hour set. Villalobos’ trippy track selection sent the crowd on a disorientating journey, perfectly captured in this short clip featuring an unreleased track by Mexican producer Sakro

It was like witnessing a family reunion, with close friends and family dancing and chatting- interrupted only with a brief appearance by Moodymann himself as he popped by following his funkadelic set in the Greenhouse.

The highlight of the day however- perhaps of the entire festival- was witnessing the Detroit legends that are Theo Parrish and Marcellus Pittman b2b for five hours on the Selectors Stage. It goes without saying that the anticipation in the crowd was overwhelming, especially as the pair delayed their start by half an hour; this was forgiven, as Young Marco’s preceding funky set satisfactorily satiated the appetite of the ravenous fans. It was like witnessing a family reunion, with close friends and family dancing and chatting- interrupted only with a brief appearance by Moodymann himself as he popped by following his funkadelic set in the Greenhouse. The collective joy surrounding the stage was a beautiful thing to be a part of. The atmosphere was accompanied by highly danceable Chicago House, think- ERB’s The Weekend,  yet soon descending into jazzy beats which admittedly brought the crowd to a stand still- we weren’t quite sure how to dance to the crazy instrumental solos, but nevertheless appreciated the weird and wonderful sounds before us. With very few European bookings a year, it was no wonder the stage was rammed to catch a glimpse of Parrish- luckily the folks at the electric minds have managed to secure the man himself for an all-night long session at the Hydra in October

Saturday’s bill brought along more musical treats, including Midland’s summery, feel-good main stage offering (Midland- Final Credits), as well as Antal’s ridiculously funky Boiler Room set. Canadian duo Pender Street Steppers coupled with Washington DC pair Beautiful Swimmers on the Selectors stage sent an electric surge of energy in the crowd through what seemed like a dance-off between the two acts behind the decks as Pick Me Up by RIP Productions was blasted through the speakers.

      Later in the evening as darkness descended, the UFO stage was the place to be, with Nina Kraviz delivering a head-spinning two-hour set bringing Saturday’s proceedings to a close. Kraviz completely brought the house down with No Good by the Prodigy, sending the crowd into a bouncing frenzy- the place made for the perfect environment to lose one’s self in the gritty musical backdrop.

      Sunday brought along another flurry of talent including expectedly intense sets by Ben Klock, Digital Mystikz, and Marcell Dettmann, however it was the contrast of Lee Scratch Perry in the Greenhouse that caught my attention. The Jamaican dub pioneer, sporting his red beard, red wine in hand, microphone in the other, stumbled about the stage as dub producer Adrian Sherwood masterfully carried Perry through the set, bringing a smile to everyone within the glass structure.

On the main stage, excitement was brewing for Amsterdam’s own Bas Bron, more widely known as Fatima Yamaha. His live set did not disappoint, featuring several tracks from his 2015 album Imaginary Lines. [Catch his live set in Bristol at the Small Horse Social Club in September.]

The emotional closing set of the final day delivered by house extraordinaire Motor City Drum Ensemble was icing on the cake

It goes without saying that Danilo stayed loyal and true to his love of funk (and simultaneously to his enormous following), dropping James Brown’s I’m Satisfied, and orchestrating a beautiful synchronised fist-bumping illuminated by the magical pink and purple flashing lights of the main stage with Andrés’ New For U. His set ended with people dancing on stage, ear-to-ear grins all round, and tears- a wonderful way to end a wonderful festival.


Suraiya Hussain (Writer)