With over a quarter millions visitors entertained by 2000 DJ’s in over 100 of the best venues in Amsterdam, you won’t find a wider variety of sounds and sights in electronic music on the planet. From All Gone Pete Tong to the awe inspiring sight of DVS1 at Gashouder, Amsterdam Dance Event is truly epic in both scale and diversity.
We were expecting more interruption to the already cramped environment of central Amsterdam, but the festival blends in sublimely with the characteristic ADE logo winking in windows and flags down every street. Compared to the often disappointing ‘city festivals’ in university towns across the UK ADE is like a giant Overlord; it felt professional, and exceptionally well designed. The oversight of all this is the cost, tickets can run into Ibiza level pricing and trying to hit multiple venues requires serious organisation and financial commitment. Uber was helpful.
On Thursday our warm up to the insanity to come was Mixmag & Ciroc ‘Ben Pearce & Free cocktails party’ held in a suitably edgy bar next to Trouw, a good soundsystem, chilled atmosphere and a funky set from Ben Pearce made for a great warm up to ADE. Onwards to All Gone Pete Tong at Air, despite solid sets from the always fun Heidi upstairs and Walker & Royce downstairs we weren’t enamoured with the place. Depsite a good punchy sound system and well designed LED ceiling a crowd of tourist weekend warriors and wannabe shufflers combined with stale smoke aroma ruined it somewhat. After consulting our host it turned out we had basically gone clubbing in Amsterdam’s Leicester Square. The sparkler adorned grey goose bottles really should have warned us.
Friday afternoon saw the HOAX chill out session in the middle of the Vondelpark, a gorgeous setting for a chilled dubby set from DJ+
in the setting sun. It’s hard to imagine the same thing working so well in Regents Park.
After a quick disco nap we found ourselves on a ferry (because that’s a thing) on the way to DGTL & Paradiso at the snappily named DSM Scheepsbouwloods (i’m assuming it sounds better in dutch) which saw Richie Ahmed delivering a heavy set of funky house which balanced well against a backdrop of red lasers and snapbacks.
With no rest for the wicked we moved on to Audio Obscuras Dream Don’t Sleep night, held at the 150 year ol Concertgebouw in the middle of uptown Amsterdam. A venue that describes itself as a ‘majestic concert hall’ made a surprisingly good venue for Maceo Plex‘s charming style of french inspired Groovey house, set against a surprisingly good sound system and a beautiful visual set up in the all white hall. Really impressive that it didn’t feel at all forced or awkward.
After being kicked out at 3am we sauntered on to MN2S present DJ Wild & Friends at the Sugar Factory, having arrived too late to catch the man, the legend Jazzy Jeff but DJ Wild’s disco tinged house styling’s were a more than adequate replacements to see the night out.
With Saturday being our last full day of ADE’ing and head’s now spinning from lack of sleep and 2nd hand wacky backy smoke it soon came apparent we didn’t have a chance of seeing evena quater of what we would have wanted, so for reasons of FOMO we set a goal of hitting 6 venues in one night. We managed 8.
Resident Advisor @ Trouw
Beautiful venue, really feels like someone with a clear vision really designed the place around a vision, with more similarity to the Tate Modern than Fabric. Having wandered into a near silent darkened room it took a good 5 minutes to realise that we were actually in an art exhibition rather than Room 2 during a technical hitch.
After taking 2 photos, we were promptly asked to stop taking photos, so left, later learned it was immently closing and regretted it. If you get a chance in the next two months it cannot be recommend highly enough to check out this gorgeous intimate space. They even make their own smoothies.
Seth Troxlers Big Tittie surprise Part II @buttfuck nowhere
Seth Troxler’s Big Titte tour blew us away, it’s almost impossible to have not noticed the tour at some point during its excursion around the world but even so the attention to detail was suprising. Although we weren’t able to catch much of the night the minimalist ambient house-y set of William Kouam Djoko & Harvard Bass went down fantastically well in the cavernous space. It’s a bit of a gut-wrench looking back particularly as the rest of a fairly knockout lineup consisted of Kerry Chandler, Jackmaster and the man, the legend and pretty convincing blonde drag queen Seth Troxler. We’ve certainly been to festivals that have made less effort on venue than this one night.
Transmat @ Paradiso
Paradiso has a big reputation, and a beautiful central room, but didn’t have much atmosphere, and a crowd you’d associate with 2 for 1 on Carling at Revs Slough. Didn’t stay long.
Noisia Presents @ Melkweg
Solid DnB set from Noisia, but not enough to entice me to stay, melkweg is perfectly decent, but after Trouw it felt commercial and a little bit soulless
4Dsound: Stimming @ Compagnietheater
Wandered in here on a whim (ADE wristbands are gooood). Layered electro rhythm over orchestral melodies built up layer by layer by Stimming. Although a bit early in the night for this style the overall effect was beautiful, especially with the setting of a raised floor lit by pulsing lights, with column mounted speakers creating a flowing changing sound merely by asking through them. Stayed to the end
Dekmental ADE Curated by Joy Orbison @ North Sea Jazz club
Intimate little venue with a an awesome sound system and some awesome lighting, I arrived in the middle of a slightly odd hip-hop infused set from Morphosis and although it wasn;t unpleasant i think I may have had to have been there longer to really get it.
Awakenings presents: Electric Deluxe @ Gashouder
When people talk about the good old days of 90’s raving I used to wonder if they ever existed beyond the rose tinted glasses. Gashouder gave me a taste of what that could have meant. Easily one of the most stunning venue’s we’ve ever been in, Gashouder is a repurposed gas storage tank in the heard of the Westerpark. The scale of the place is stunning, and the visual setup was breathtaking. I’m surprised this place isn’t more famous.
I’m having difficulty describing how stupidly amazing Gashouder is so will let the photos speak for themselves, but the thundering techno set from DVS1 matched perfectly with the bleak interior. Wishing we could have spent more time here.
Verknipt Present Avotre @ Westerunie
the final top on my whirlwind tour of ADE took me to Avotre at Westerunie, walking into a pumping tech house set from legends Sante and Sidney Charles made one of the most buzzed crowds I saw throughout ADE. Follow up sets from Darius Syrossian and Hector Cuoto managed to keep the vibe up, and despite a significant contingent of shaved chested shufflers in floral prints Avotre was mad and awesome
So, at the end, any stand outs? Seth Troxlers Bit Tittie and Awakenings at Gashouder, with a special mention to Trouw.
ADE and everything about ADE has it’s downsides, as much as we’d love it to be all about the music trying to find accommodation was somewhat of a nightmare, but if you truly want to surround yourself with nothing but the finest offerings in electronic music there’s nothing that even comes close. You could have gone to 2014’s ADE 4 times over and still been left with more to see and hear.
Words & photography by Callum McClarty
You can peep the best of our ADE adventures through the image gallery below.