ADE Coverage: Plamen Valkov, Joel Bohnen
Max Sprott and Otto Nooitgedacht
Five nights of raving until dawn and five days filled with events varying from music business programs to cooking battles between DJs. Amsterdam Dance Event, better known as ADE, is a five-day music festival at locations spanning the entire city of Amsterdam. Unlike typical festivals, events do not take place at stages but rather at the city’s various clubs, concert halls, and numerous unconventional venues. Besides being an enormous music festival, Amsterdam Dance Event is also a center for the business side of the music industry, hosting a variety of conferences, panels, and product showcases. For electronic music, ADE is a hotspot too good to miss, so when UGS was invited with full delegate’s privileges, we just couldn’t say no.
Due to the wide variety of locations throughout the city of Amsterdam, certain measures need to be taken to ensure that delegates get full access to every event taking place during these packed five days. For us this meant lanyards with our names and titles, as well as wristbands with a magnetic chip. On the night before the opening, we went to a building next to ADE’s official conference centre, Felix Meritis, in the beautiful canal-packed Jordaan area of Amsterdam, to pick up our delegate’s packages. Entering the building there was an immediate sense of anticipation in the air as tens of other delegates anxiously waited to pick up their passes in the yellow and black themed reception room. ADE cube logos were strategically set at eye-catching locations in the dimly lit room. ADE products, including everything from sweaters to customized Zinken Urban Ears headphones, were proudly displayed on the walls. We were taken back by an immediate sense for the scale and legitimacy of this world-renowned conference. When we finally got the front of the line, we were politely greeted by the receptionists, who then proceeded to give us our wristbands, lanyard ID’s and the well-known ADE backpack. We felt like spoiled kids on Christmas morning as we opened our ADE themed waterproof Sinner backpacks filled with promotional goodies, Uber vouchers, and copies of the official 2014 ADE book. ADE really knows how to treat delegates!
image source: groove.de
For our first action, our team convened at the Felix Meritis, the central location for all conference related events during this week, situated on the famous Keizersgracht, or Emperor’s Canal in the city centre of Amsterdam. All over the picturesque streets, ADE delegates could be seen with their distinctive black and yellow backpacks, strolling around and talking to world renowned artists and their management teams, who were just relaxing, networking and enjoying the beautiful city of Amsterdam. This is a sight that, other than at ADE can, perhaps, only be seen during Miami Music Week. Situations that allow you to informally meet and strike up a conversation with artists that you admire are plentiful at ADE. Perhaps that is one of the factors that make this conference so special.
After admiring this atmosphere for a few minutes, we began our day with a stroll through the Keizer Culinair cooking school, where Traktor DJ was holding a private cooking event, which also showcased some of the company’s latest products. While looking around inside, we noticed the Resident Advisor team that had made it all the way from London to Amsterdam by bike. RA #cycle2ADE cycled 300 miles, across four countries, just in time to make it to the opening of ADE. The aim of this challenge was to, through sponsors and donations, raise £100,000 for a charity by the name of Bridges For Music to build a music school in Langa, a township just outside Cape Town, South Africa.
image source: Resident Advisor
After getting hungry from being around Traktor’s cooking event, we went to get a bite to eat and headed to the listening party for Joris Voorn’s long-awaited new album. This listening party was situated in conference room at the Dylan Hotel, right by the Felix Meritis. We were welcomed with complimentary beers and champagne to an intimate room filled with a friendly atmosphere, fellow delegates and Joris Voorn’s management team. Soon after sitting down and getting well acquainted with our free alcohol, Joris Voorn himself made his way to the front of the room, thanked us for being there, and announced the beginning of the listening. We were played a shortened version of his new album entitled “Nobody Knows”. An album long awaited as it was Joris’s first in eight years! Boy did those eight years of work and polishing pay off though. We were very pleasantly surprised not only with the quality of his work, which one has come to expect from an artist such as himself, but also with the direction he took. Joris, primarily known for his DJing, and associated heavily with dance-floor compatible music, played us tracks that can only be described as emotional, ambient, downtempo, and very personal. Although there were also a couple of dance tunes in there such as Ringo, which was previously released as a single and is now getting an album context, most of the tracks were heartfelt tales of life on the road. Some in instrumental form and others featuring vocalists such as Kid A, Matthew Dear, and Bram Stadhouders. After the listening session, Joris answered a few questions from people in the room and even stuck around for a short chat and picture with us. We were as pleasantly surprised by his friendly attitude and openness as we were by his new album. “Nobody Knows” is out now on iTunes and Beatport. (iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/album/nobody-knows/id934922206)
Following the listening session, we made our way to Paradiso – one of Amsterdam’s best-known concert halls and nightclubs. Being situated in a former church, the large and open venue has incredible acoustics and has hosted a variety of famous musicians over its 46-year history. On this particular evening however, it was the turn of Buraka Som Sistema to take over the stage. The group out of Portugal possessed the ever-energetic crowd with their techno beats, fused with African zouk and kuduro influences. The vocalists even got people from the crowd on stage, who weren’t afraid to let loose and get down.
Being close to Amsterdam’s famous Leidseplein (Leidse-Square), we then headed to a club called Jimmy Woo, where the MixMash label night was taking place. This much smaller venue allowed for a much friendlier and more intimate atmosphere. Attendees were mainly young artists, who were in touch with or signed by MixMash records, and had come along with their friends. The intimate setting also allowed for informal encounters with the artists who were on the line-up that night. People who were there could easily chat and take pictures with artists such as Laidback Luke and Chocolate Puma.
“Eins, zwei, funkyzeit!” it’s time to party Berlin style. Pleinvrees is well known for organizing quality raves in Amsterdam. This time they paid tribute to the Berlin techno scene by inviting two major Berlin labels for ADE: Stil vor Talent and Katermukke. The German capital has left footprints on Amsterdam’s vibrant club and festival culture and will continue to do so for years to come, so it was only fitting to acknowledge this at ADE. The Berlin special was held at de Marktkantine, a creative and modern venue, situated in an old building, which used to serve the market merchants association. Our Berlin night got off to a smooth start with Frau Britta Arnold at the Katermukke stage. The pitch black round hall gave the place a raw industrial look while wonderful visuals flash on a giant transparent curtain. As a venue, Marktkantine was spot-on! We entered to a chill and still building vibe at the main stage, as Niconé & Sascha Braemer played their hit “Caye”. Their set got heavier than expected later on as the venue warmed up for the Frenchman Joris Delacrois. We were in Amsterdam at the Berlin Special with French Joris Delacrois behind the turntables, “C’est magnifique”! Many of his own hits such as “Air France” rang through the crowd and were received enthusaistically. That’s why most of us came to see him. Then Oliver Koletzki took his turn to deliver a set. Yet what we heard was not the sweet deep house you might expect from Koletzki but a brutal final blow to our night. It served as a reminder that we were in Amsterdam after all, because unlike Berlin, the party ends at 6 in the morning. Note to self: “hitchhike to Berlin soon”.
The Snowbombing opening party was the smallest event we attended Being invite only at a very small one room bar in the Jordaan district of Amsterdam, the atmosphere was warm and more intimate and definitely gave a special ‘VIP’ feeling to those attending. The lineup announced for the upcoming festival high up in the Austrian Alps included Rudimental, Skrillex, Basement Jaxx, Carlcox, and Sigma. To see more, visit, www.snowbombing.com.
Though the complimentary drinks at Snowbombing were more than welcome, we needed to head to Westerpark next. To experience the Dutch dance scene to its fullest, Amsterdam’s Westerpark is definitely a place to go as it houses an array of industrial remains, such as a giant gas holding tank, all turned into intense, almost steampunk-like, music venues. It was here that one of our favorite events took place, Verknipt at the Westerunie. Verknipt is quite a new name in the Dutch rave scene but they made an excellent reputation for themselves already. You could notice that this ADE edition they went all out. An enormous tri-stage venue with an industrial look, Verknipt gave each record label it’s own stage. Musically, stages represented different variations of techno and deep house. We spent the most time at the “Rejected vs. Knee Deep in Sound Records” stage, where our friend Joris Voorn played and amazing back-to-back set with Nic Fanculli. Since, HotSince82 fell ill that night, the set lasted much longer than planned, according to a source close to his agent. Musically, Nic and Joris didn’t open strongly. They carried the vibe smoothly from Guti, who played before them. With this, the crowd was very responsive and energetic regardless of what they played. They really set it off, however, with particular classics, such as “Domino” by Oxia, which resonated especially strongly with the crowd.
Later on, at the Saura Records stage, Edu Imbernon played a slower but still enjoyable set. He stayed mostly within the realms of techno, throwing in some nice transitions with a twist of trance. After Embernon’s set, the pace increased more, with more bass and accumulating energy. The beats played by Technasia around now were building up nicely with a more upfront beat than before. The energy was building in the crowd nicely. Later, Coyu played a great set but didn’t diversify his style much, though he didn’t need to because the vibe stayed strong through four in the morning. At around 5:45 am, the music was even calmer, some stages were basically just a soft beat, which after two hours of some intense dancing, served as a great cool-down. Due to the fact that Verknipt is quite a new party, the crowd was mostly the rave scene’s early adopters. People were chilling and it was easy to talk a little too.
After verknipt, we embarked on a hundred meter walk to the Westerunie’s giant neighbor: the Gashouder. This venue is situated in the impressive remains of what used to be the old gas factory. Here we entered Awakenings and we were welcomed by giant flamethrowers accompanied by Adam Beyer’s lung-rattling hard techno. You will not be surprised that Awakenings is well known for being one of the Dutch flagships. Recently this flagship got swallowed by the major American fleet SFX. This makes some wonder, will awakenings stay awake? Hopefully, America will feel the wrath of this epic event in the near future.
The next day we were broken, but ADE was not going to wait for us and we needed to show our hangover engulfed faces and beautiful UGS shirts at Sander Kleinenberg’s invite only party at the Amstel hotel. It was by far a more luxurious, smaller, and personal event in the southern wing of Amsterdam’s equivalent to the Waldorf Astoria. There was only one room for the event, a room ordained with Victorian style of decorations and ornaments. It is well known in Amsterdam that the Amstel hotel is the place to spend the night if your budget is bigger than ours, to say the least. We arrived once Sander had just started his set. He began with a slower beat and more relaxed style. Later on, things sped up to a better dancing beat, which was apparent in the bouncing crowd. The people attending were a bit of a older crowd. Kind music industry people and jetset. Partying at the Amstel Hotel for a private party with Sander Kleinenberg did feel pretty chic. The way people dressed too was even higher than chic and sometimes hilarious too. Ladies in ballroom dresses, gents in suits, one person even had a specially made walking stick with a snakehead handle on top! We definitely had fun with these nouveau riche people but the dance floor was not really crowded. Luckily we met a few guys that made our day. We found out that these guys were at awakenings as well but didn’t pause to sleep and simply went straight to this event without an actual invite, sweet talking their way passed the security! They were raving like crazy, the style of raving that we saw the night before at awakenings. People in Holland call this way of dancing “konijnendansen” which directly translates to rabbit dancing. We had loads of fun awkwardly raving between all these weirdly chic people with these guys and Kleinenberg later told us that he appreciated how we stirred up some action on the dance floor.
After the Amstel Party we proceeded to Leidseplein to attend the “Pets Recordings presents”. Held in the legendary Amsterdam Chicago Social Club, this was to be a night to remember. With warm up house beats playing on the top quality Funktion One sound system, the night slowly got started. As more people filled the dance floor we started hearing all the crazy minimal sounds mixed into tech house that makes pets recordings so great. Cats and Dogs and Kink were the two main acts who harmonized with each other and flawlessly led the people into the night. The Polish and Bulgarian DJs often perform together at parties around the world, which could have only attributed to the success of the night. Sometimes bringing in unexpected sounds that re-energize the crowd. A DJ should always know and be able to change the flow of the music according to the flow of the crowd. The night was long, loud, and trippy. Pets recordings brings to the table what many record labels don’t and that is this feeling of a sense community on the dance floor. We will definitely be back for another dose next year.
On Saturday, we caught up with a face familiar to Undrgrnd Sound – Marc Moore. Some of you may remember our interview with him in Arnhem, after he won the regional competition for the Pepsi DJ Clash. Well now he was about to play at the national finals in the Melkweg. A well-known club in Amsterdam. The full interview can be found here: (link)
We remained at the Felix Meritis and managed to attend the “Demolition Panel” with artists among the ranks of Gina turner, Dave Clarke, Agoria, and more. The purpose of this panel was to give honest and ruthless feedback, publicly, to those brave enough to have previously submitted their music to the demo box. The feedback given was comprehensive, uncompromising and of unquestionable value to those on the receiving end. Not only was this about feedback, however, those with the best tracks, according to the panel, received prizes and made valuable contacts with big names in the industry. The winning demo actually ended up being the last one of the night. What seemed to be a very techno-dominated demo box all of a sudden spurred out a lo-fi ambient composition, which sounded like it belonged as part of a film score. Unanimously, the panel decided that this was the best produced track of the night.
At the evening closing drinks, we toasted to a successful last couple days with yet even more complimentary drinks. Our toast and conclusion: ADE was awesome!
image source: groove.de
On our last day of ADE, we went to a former printing press factory turned epic night club, well known as an amazing music haven that offers epic parties beyond expectations: Trouw. Mixed feelings ran rampant as we knew all good things must come to an end. Since Trouw will be closing at the end of this year indefinitely, we realized there was better way to go out with bang than party here one last time. Loaded and Utopian Expectations” were the words that encircled Trouw’s last ADE Sunday. After having survived the bitter cold for 45 minutes, we walked down the famous stairs continuing to the stage while the first tunes engulfed our eardrums. Trouw x Drukpers (what?) reputation is well known, and not just within Holland’s borders. With names like Makam and Job Jobse, it is deemed to confirm its reputation. We have rarely seen Trouw this crowded. The crowd was one massive dancing orchestra being led by majestic sounds, which were played with passion by the DJs. The evening started with intense music styles, roaring a grand end to this epic week, later cooling off with a smoother groove. At the very end, Job Jobse went all-in by playing slammers such as Chic’s Everybody Dance and Donna Summer’s I feel love, which united the crowd, pointed everyone’s focus towards the decks, and energized the floor like never before. Going strong till 11AM, these tracks certainly embodied our most memorable evening in Trouw.
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