Nestled in the idyllic Amsterdam Bos, Dekmantel is a festival with a rapidly growing reputation. A picturesque location, impeccable sound, a stellar line up and a truly fantastic atmosphere make for something very special indeed.
As you first walk through the gates, you are met with the sprawling main stage. Stretching round in an almost horseshoe like shape, the colourful screens are flanked by enormous Funktion Ones, and a large canopy is there to protect the dancers from rain, which was thankfully never needed. Beyond that, one can spot the looming UFO tent, and to the right, out of sight from the entrance, are the Selector, Greenhouse and Boiler Room stages.
With a line up so varied and interesting, clashes are inevitable and it’s nearly impossible to see everyone you want. Nonetheless, the sheer number of exciting and sometimes surprising acts ensures that overlaps are never too much of a problem.
A particular highlight from the Friday night was DJ Stingray and Helena Hauff’s b2b set in the UFO tent. The two played off each other tremendously and delivered a scorching two hours of high-octane electro and jacking techno. Stingray then went on to the Boiler Room stage to close the first night of the festival. With a typically frenetic set, he kept the packed out crowd on their toes with his slick mixing and eclectic track selection.
Saturday featured Daniel Bell who showcased his DBX live show on the main stage. Accompanied by a live drummer, he cranked out his unique brand of groovy minimal which worked perfectly in the afternoon sunshine. Over on the Selectors stage, the legendary Donato Dozzy stepped up to close the festival with a 3 hour journey of driving, broody techno.
Onto the Sunday, a rare live appearance from Mike Parker in the UFO tent was unmissable. He crafted an intoxicating atmosphere with his trademark looping, nearly percussionless hypno-techno, and an hour seemed far too short. Randomer’s set later on in the day was a stark contrast, but still had the crowd going wild with the furious and violent techno for which he’s known.
Robert Hood was up next, and played what was arguably the best set of the weekend. Jumping seamlessly from one style to the next, his set featured tracks from all corners of the genre, with the highlight being his modern gospel classic ‘We Magnify His Name’.
Finally, closing a rammed Boiler Room stage was the inimitable Marcel Dettmann, who served up a characteristically eerie set. His often obscure and leftfield track choice created an intense atmosphere, where he would then throw a curveball with something funkier or acid flavoured, keeping the mood constantly shifting.
For a festival only 3 years old, Dekmantel have created something truly remarkable. Their incredible attention to detail and care for the quality of the experience they provide is clear, and they have attracted a knowledgeable and respectful crowd, which is a vital part of a successful festival. If Dekmantel continue the way they are going, they are definitely in line to become one of the finest electronic music festivals around, if they have not already achieved that accolade.
Photos: Bart Heemskerk, Desiré Van Den Berg