Amsterdam Dance Event 2018: Five key performances

  • Five days, dozens of parties, 100s of sets. Who stood out?
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  • Amsterdam Dance Event, AKA ADE, is the biggest dance music meet-up in Europe. For five days in October, tens of thousands of people descend upon the Dutch capital to discuss business, forge new relationships and peer, wide-eyed, into the future of clubbing and club culture. It's an unparalleled event, where fans, artists and industry folk from every sector of electronic music come together to debate topics like sustainability, misogyny, activism and technology. (Or simply to have a beer and listen to tunes.) ADE is also the best week to party in Amsterdam. Every music venue, bar, record store, radio station and occasional restaurant rallies to the ADE beat. From Wednesday lunchtime through the wee hours of Monday, you can be out dancing to all your favourite acts. But it's worth going off-piste during ADE, too. Hop on the ferry to Noord or sniff out a basement rave and you’ll encounter the local, peripheral and next generation of dance music stars waiting to be discovered. Here are five key performances from ADE 2018.
    Rebekah Most artists play at most a couple gigs during ADE. Rebekah had three back-to-back shows from Wednesday through Friday, interspersed with two panel talks alongside Paula Temple. Her and Temple's explosive collaboration (which began last summer with a hybrid live set at Exit Festival) was the highlight of Awakenings' Hard Opening Night at Gashouder on Wednesday. On Friday, Rebekah DJ'd at Dave Clarke's techno residency at Melkweg. In between, she delivered a headsy live set for Verknipt at Amsterdam Studio's, a 2,000 capacity warehouse in the east. Weaving elements from her latest clutch of releases––Fear Paralysis on Soma, My Heart Bleeds Black on Mord and Into The Black for Sonic Groove––into a dynamic 60 minutes, Rebekah reset the pace that had been steadily mounting after Fatima Hajji and Gary Beck. The main room, pierced with lasers and absolutely heaving, was full of young, up-for-it ravers. It was particularly refreshing to see everyone get behind her more disruptive peak-time techno sound. My night was made when a raver in a wheelchair adorned me and everyone around him with wearable glo-sticks.
    DJ Stingray Veronicaschip has been docked at NDSM wharf, on the north-eastern shores of Amsterdam, since a storm damaged its anchor in the '70s. Formerly a pirate radio station, the boat is steeped in rich musical history. In May, it reopened as an intimate 300-capacity club and restaurant under the name noorderschip, before rebranding as noorderling. What better way, then, to launch straight into ADE than with a night of fast-paced techno and electro curated by DJ Stingray on a subaquatic dance floor? The Drexciya affiliate pulled together a watertight lineup featuring DJ Nobu, Inga Mauer and the rising SPFDJ, each of whom delivered fierce sets. At around 3 AM, Stingray ambled impressively down a steep and foggy flight of stairs to the booth, situated in the ship's hull. He dived straight into a high-velocity mix of slamming electro, which sounded particularly punchy as it reverberated off the steel walls. I didn't recognise a single tune all night—usually a good sign.
    Cashu The queer techno party Spielraum is proof that ravers throw the best raves. During the day, the promoter teamed up with ADE and the local dance platform ICK Amsterdam to present Body In Revolt, a programme of panel talks and dance performances, attended by politically engaged ravers from around the world. Later that night, Spielraum partnered with the Tbilisi club Bassiani for a party at RADION. The Brazilian artist Cashu, who had represented her Mamba Negra collective earlier in the day, shared the bill with the likes of Tijana T, Héctor Oaks and Zitto. Banging out electro, she went from acid to breakbeat, filling up the club's second room in no time. Things got more energetic and hypnotising from there, thanks to tracks like Hymns' "Heinz Harald Frentzen." In the context of so many geographically dispersed collectives coming together, she created the ultimate soundtrack for a global community of like-minded ravers.
    Mattheis Finding free parties with high-quality music can be hard during ADE. On Saturday, Rolling Rock Kitchen partnered with DOGMA to host a crop of Dutch talent who, though not new to the industry event, are doing a lot to push the domestic scene forwards. Nous'klaer, a label and party crew based in Rotterdam, manned the decks from 3 PM until deep into the night. Mattheis, who just released a new album, Thin Sections, reminded us why the label is so interesting: no Nous'klaer release can be easily tied to one genre. Mattheis raised the hands of ravers and labelmates alike with classics from the catalogue, such as Melatonin Man's "Cruise Control Love." The love in the crew is strong, which gives Nous'klaer the perfect foundation to continue to develop its sound.
    upsammy Upsammy has developed into a key figure of De School's upstairs room in the past year. Playing some of the toughest morning slots, she remains calm under pressure whether dance floors are packed or empty. When she played on Sunday, during the club's 62-hour weekender, the room had already been primed by an energetic set from another resident, Oceanic. Upsammy's approach was more restrained. Never afraid to play slower and more stripped-down tracks, such as Rae's "Sleep Rotation," she asked her audience to pay attention. That might have caused some to leave early—understandable after so many days of dancing—but those who remained were treated to a set that was well-paced and relentless in all the right ways. Photo credits / JNQ Photography - Rebekah Sanne van den Elzen - DJ Stingray Toto Stoffels - Cashu Mieke Lindeman - Mattheis Sophie Wright - upsammy