On the Saturday of this year’s Dekmantel Festival I heard a story about one of the festival’s founders, Thomas Martojo, approaching Jeff Mills after the Detroit legend’s performance the previous night. Mills is one of the key inspirations behind the entire Dekmantel operation, and he’s closed the main stage at three of the Amsterdam festival’s four editions so far. “Your music makes me feel like I’m a 15-year-old kid again,” Martojo told Mills.
This deep, sincere passion for electronic music is evident in every detail of Dekmantel Festival. It’s there in the way the stages are set up, with excellent sound and pleasing aesthetic touches. (Did the Greenhouse stage really need that many plants? Probably not. But it looked amazing.) And it’s there on the festival lineup, which is filler-free and puts local artists on an equal footing with international stars. Neither organisers nor festivalgoers seem to place much emphasis on headliners in the traditional sense. The three acts who closed the main stage at Amsterdamse Bos—Jeff Mills, Dixon and Motor City Drum Ensemble—are all big names, but if, say, you swapped in DJ Harvey for MCDE, or Robert Hood for Mills, it’s doubtful many people would mind. And that’s the thing about Dekmantel—the music is consistently wonderful across every stage, from the first record of the day to the last.
This year’s edition was its biggest yet, with the three-day festival at Amsterdamse Bos and Melkweg supplemented by an expanded opening day conference followed by live music showcases at venues on both sides of the IJ waterfront.
Check out the five of the key performances from across the weekend over at Resident Advisor.