The Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) features the finest example of electronic music in one concentrated annual event. Taking place over the course of five days (15/10/2014 – 19/10/2014), it includes every music (and non-music) venue in the city for a celebration of electronic music only Amsterdam could pull off. It features a plethora of DJ’s, artists and labels in an area roughly the size of Avicii’s inflated ego, and the line-up can often seem imposing as a result. We, at The Formant however believe that electronic music should be enjoyed and not fretted upon. So to make things easier on you, Jessica Perri and I have taken it upon ourselves to pick only the jewels from the crowning glory of ADE in a handy guide that should appeal to divergent tastes. We’ve gone through the line-up with fine-tooth comb in order to find only the most rewarding of nocturnal activities from the Festival instalment of the… ‘uhm’ festival in an effort to make your ADE an painless and effortless one. Disclaimer: We cannot be held accountable for cycle butt.
Hot off the release of her first album LP1, the UK debutant should be the first stop on your ADE 2014 journey. FKA twigs’ voice far over-reaches her diminutive stature and looms over its unsuspecting audience in a melancholic cloud. Her back-up band made up of a mixture of live instrumentals and electronics create stark fleeting landscapes within which FKA twigs seduces her listeners with her ephemeral melodies and lyrics that cut straight to the bone. “Give me two weeks and you won’t recognise her”. Forget the fortnight, an evening with FKA twigs is enough for you to forget them all.
It is impossible to cover the entire ADE as an entity that is bound by the laws that dictate space and time. As a punter, set your sights on a single night and stay the course. Dashing all over town to see the next act is an impossible task, one that will give you a severe case of bicycle butt. As luck will have it though you will have plenty time to spare between getting loved up by FKA twigs and getting torn apart by some of the best House DJs on the planet, via Amsterdam institution, Rush Hour Records. Get captivated by the eccentricity of San Proper as he takes you on a journey through his vast record collection moving from Reggae to Funk to House; or sit back and enjoy some of the mastery Antal displays at his craft as he picks his way through some of the more obscure house records in his collection. Newcomer Interstellar Funk has also enjoyed some great praise of late and this night should at least get have the Dance part of ADE well and truly on its way.
An impressive CV may be expected from a house music legend who’s been banging beats since the infamous The Paradise Garage, but the weight of Joe Claussell’s work can be best summed up through his projects and remixes with artists like Femi Kuti, Herbie Hancock, Sade, Beth Orton, Radiohead and Nina Simone. It was 1996 that he teamed up with fellow-soulful house evangelists, Danny Krivit and Francois K to create a rhythmic journey into your Sunday punctuated with live drummers and just the right touch of disco. That party was aptly called Body & Soul. If you liked the driving 4-4 and melodic vocals that characterised Disclosure’s Settle album, come check out how that house was built.
I can’t think of a better way to debut the new warehouse event-space, HYTE than an all-nighter with Maetrik (AKA Maceo Plex) and French techno extraordinaire Laurent Garnier. As was The Paradise Garage in New York so was the Hacienda in Manchester. This is where Laurent Garnier began the first of numerous residencies in Europe and beyond. What’s fascinating about Garnier is that he started mixing records at age 16 but his techno sets still remain relevant to 16 year olds today. With a great appreciation for the Detroit originators and influences as far-reaching as jazz, it only makes sense that his career includes scores for TV and cinema. Garnier’s open-minded approach and musical eclecticism is what keeps his sets creative. If you want to stay dancing all night long this is a sure thing.
Colors is one of those nights that just manage to capture the zeitgeist of Amsterdam’s left-of-centre dance culture and they’ve put one hell of line-up together for their last ADE showcase at Trouw. If you go for one reason however, go for the Hessle Audio DJs. Ben UFO, Pangea and Pearson Sound all bring something unique to their combined sets that fuse effortlessly into a single musical narrative. They’ll take you through the history of electronic dance music in the distinct voice of their label, Hessle Audio. You’ll find the trend-informed crowd at Colors incredibly enjoyable and will be pleasantly surprised by a musical knowledge that supersedes their years. Be aware however that this one will be busy, and if you don’t appreciate big bouncy crowds or queuing, you might want to reconsider. Then again, if you don’t like big crowds or queuing, ADE might not be for you.
If two nights at Trouw might be a little too much to handle, this night should be a great alternative to Colors and will be cut from much of the same cloth. Melkweg is a bit harsh compared to Trouw’s subtler approach and the crowd often reflects this, but Modeselektor are great at what they do and they are incredibly adept at putting a tongue cheek set together with a clear emphasis on the atmosphere. They are bringing a bunch of their friends along and L-Vis 1990 is guaranteed to keep things thumping, while Henrik Scwartz comes at you in a subtler approach. Keep a special lookout for Dark Sky. Following on from their excellent release, Imagin the London trio bring a dark and brooding sound to Techno and if they accommodate your taste stay for Akkord as they drop into the lower tempos with their brand of bass heavy rhythms.
There’s more than one act piquing my interest here so bare with me as I relay the riches. First, there is the omnipresent personality of UK-born DJ Harvey, who has gained an international cult following for his musical eccentricity. Before tech-house and nu-disco got together and began parading itself all along the Adriatic sea as deep-house, Harvey had already been at it for 15 years, mashing up the genre into whatever he wanted – house, electro and even re-edits of disco records like those of Larry Levan. Playing with the likes of LCD’s James Murphy, Kraftwerk and naming one of his residencies, “Moist” might have been enough to get him inducted into the Rolling Stone’s Top 25 most influential DJ list, but don’t just take their word for it; listen. It is however actually the Berlin-based duo, A Tale of Us who is the true headliner of this party. It’s a treat to see these guys tag-team on the decks only to unfold a unique story that makes apparent their subtle yet distinct musical tastes. The dance floor may not set afire, yet they have a way of quietly thumping their way into your heart. If you miss them here, they also play with Joy Orbison on 18/10.
Last year I had the pleasure of experiencing Mr. Clarke’s regular ADE night first hand. Disseminating out of the pits of Techno’s deeper darker corners, the sound that the line-up deals in could rip your diaphragm straight out of your body. This year’s line-up is quite eclectic and I would recommend this one if you are looking a very energetic Friday night. Green Velvet (aka Cashmere) always brings a bit of elctroclash flair to the dance floor, while Clouds would assume the functional demand with their industrialised textures and big beats. Daniel Miller is a bit of surprise and should be a pleasant one at that. The Mute records boss and electro legend is known for experimenting somewhat behind the decks and his sets are often praised in places like Berghain.
The Philadelphia-born, Jazzy Jeff may have accrued his initial fame as one-half of the 80’s hip-hop duo that included the Fresh Prince (Will Smith), but I assure you that this talented DJ, producer and studio owner has never stopped twiddling with all shades of hip-hop, house and soul since he started decades ago. After bringing treasures like Jill Scott to the fore, he is still a seminal party-rocker that gets all the hands in the air and has them waving like they just don’t give a fuck. His annual Summertime Mixtapes with DJ Mick Boogie will never let down your BBQ or your house party down. Ever.
Amsterdam’s Het Concertgebouw is regarded as one of the best concert halls in the world due to its superior acoustics. The idea of seeing Maceo Plex and Sasha here seems fitting, since both are known for their serious artistry. Sasha, who debuted on the scene in 1993 alongside partner John Digweed, is known for deeper progressive and techno sets. But it’s the darker tech-house sounds of Maceo Plex that intrigue me with its occasional penchant for minimal funk. Plex, an American-born DJ who now resides in Spain, released three tracks this summer known as the “Conjure Series” on three different labels including his own, Ellum Audio as well as Richie Hawtin’s Minus and the seminal German imprint, Kompakt. To Conjure Superstars, a track we may interpret as the producer’s distaste for the current state of EDM culture, was named Pete Tong’s essential new tune in July and ironically quite popular in Ibiza.
When I saw this line-up announced my heart sunk as I was solemnly reminded of my forthcoming absence for ADE 2014. Four Tet and Motor City Drum ensemble are particular exciting here. Their reputation precedes them and both are constantly referred to as the DJ’s DJ. MCDE doesn’t play out that often and he appears to have adopted Trouw as his spiritual musical home, making this event a rather special one. It should appease even the most reluctant music enthusiast as the line-up features a little taste of everything as selected by world-renowned tastemaker, Resident Advisor.
Rhone warehouse is somewhat removed from most of the ADE action and if you are to invest in this night, there would be no half-assed way of doing it. Your sense of adventure would be rewarded however as These Guys have a knack of creating something out of nothing. They always re-appropriate interesting venues for their needs and their line-ups never fail. 8-bahn is in tow for this one and if their reputation is anything to go by the techno enthusiast with a taste for the dark-side will be rewarded ten fold. Look out for A Made up Sound. His sets are eclectic and they are always formative and interesting. He is able to take the night into any direction with an emphasis on contrasting flavours, and this venue would be made for him.
Not that this party needs any endorsement. – Could the name get any “Bigger”? Any “Tittier”? Any “Dolphiner”? – Seth Troxler’s set, which is usually as wonderfully complex and irreverent as his personality, doesn’t need our approval either. When you come from a hard-knock city like Detroit and in the footsteps of the Techno Godfathers, then it’s par for the course to be creative. He might start with a hard-driving minimal set that suddenly breaks into Prince’s “I Want To Be Your Lover”, transforming a hypnotised crowd into a massive sing-a-long. That may be the most “Detroitiest” thing and the most Seth “Troxlerist” thing that I’ve witnessed since Moodyman pulled a bottle of Hennessy from his record bag and gave out shots to the crowd. It’s a highly entertaining journey with Troxler, body-slamming you with historical references while stabbing your brain with curiosity: What-the-fuck-is-that-a-new-Modeselektor-track? It’s these “Suprisier” moments that keep us coming back for more. I’d be remiss not to mention legendary deep-house originator, DJ Kerri Chandler. Let’s get awesome.
Things to learn when you move to The Netherlands: Invest in rain pants; Buy halfvolle milk; and quality Dutch techno comes from a producer called Speedy J. Regarded as one of the first techno artists straight outta Benelux, his 15-year career has spanned many corners of the musical spectrum including releases on Plus 8, Warp and his own label, Electronic Deluxe. But it’s a collaborative album he released last year with Luca Mortellaro under the Zeitgeber (“synchronizer” in German) moniker that particularly haunts my consciousness. Unconcerned with dance-ability, the project is more akin to beautifully detailed sound design. Tiny beats of various shapes and sizes clang along minimally while low-grade synths keep things warm. Who knows which version of the Speedy J sound we will receive at 4:30 in the morning, but whatever it is, you’re probably going to want to stay until it ends. (Don’t miss Nina Kraviz at 130am either.)
So you partied your ass off for 4 days, now put down the vodka and go get some dinner! We recommend a hip little Mexican joint featuring one of the biggest names out of Chicago house, Ron Carroll––a man who got his first break from Masters at Work back in 1994 and is still on the circuit doing his thing. Carroll is joined by Deep House Providers, DJ Romain, Luis Radio and a few more curated by Amsterdam’s own Boogieman. It only goes from 6pm to 1am so you can ride the soul-train for a few more hours and still get to work on Monday.
Some of you might not need to go to work on Monday. So, if you still enjoy the fortunate disposition as a living entity in procession of a pulse by Sunday 1AM fill up that vodka glass and go to Trouw for their last ever ADE event. Sometimes, because is the only appropriate reason.