DGTL Festival 2016

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  • DGTL Festival's fourth edition took place once again in Amsterdam's sprawling former shipbuilding stronghold. The area is connected to the centre of the city via ferry or a rather circuitous drive, lending the place something of an island feel. This was by no means always a good thing—getting to the city centre after the festival finished could only involve expensive taxis or enormous queues for the ferries. Still, with its hulking cranes and overgrown train tracks, the area is a fitting backdrop for a festival like DGTL. I didn't make it to Amsterdam in time to catch the first night of DGTL, but caught the entirety of its two main days: Saturday and Sunday. The difference in quality between the two was hard to ignore, with Sunday packing the more exciting bill by far. Saturday was by no means devoid of interesting names, they were just thinner on the ground. Much of the afternoon was spent with a thoroughly enjoyable back-to-back set from Jackmaster and Optimo at the Stereo stage, a highlight of which came when they mixed an unidentified disco vocal into CLS's "Can U Feel It." KiNK's live show that evening was as impressive as usual, but the crowd interaction that usually makes it a compelling sight was largely missing in the cavernous Analog stage. Sunday demanded more regular scrutiny of the festival's mobile app, and after an early pre-party event in a crane-cum-three-room-hotel, I dove into superb, criminally under-attended sets from Red Axes and Andrew Weatherall on the Phono stage. Local fixture Makam had a home crowd and the lure of pounding 4/4 on his side during his packed-out afternoon slot in Digital, while Prins Thomas and Gerd Janson turned out an airy back-to-back set over in Stereo. Motor City Drum Ensemble's disco-laden turn on the same stage was a no-brainer as my festival closer. DGTL is a festival with a unique setting and a noted emphasis on sustainability, but at it's heart, it's all about heavy-hitting DJs banging it out in vast halls. Whether or not that happens to be your thing, it's hard to find fault in their skill at doing it. Photo credit / Tom Doms Kirsten Van Santen