“Sex, drugs, and insanity have always worked for me, but I wouldn’t recommend them for everyone.” - Hunter S. Thompson.
Dekmantel - August 2018 (exact date TBC), Amsterdamse Bos, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Dekmantel is relatively new on the festival circuit, but it’s made a massive impact since its debut year in 2013. Located in one of Europe’s best electronic music cities, its central hub is Amsterdamse Bos, a large open-air park which is a handy 20 minute scoot on the tram from Centraal Station.
Anyone familiar with a weekend spent in one of the many amazing clubs that have graced The Netherlands’ biggest city would say that the Dutch know their tunes, and know how to party. Club 11, Trouw, Paradiso, Melkweg and the breathtaking Gashouder were and are cathedrals of European dance music. Dekmantel found its feet in some of these venues, throwing parties and running a respected, successful record label, so a festival felt like a natural evolution - a multi day, multi stage event in the heart of the city.
Booking is very electronic-focused - usually a BIG line-up of a who’s who of leading global DJs, producers and live acts. Some organisations would be content to stop here and let the acts be the focal point of the festival. Not Dekmantel, however - it brings so much more to the party.
The venue itself is stunning - Amsterdam is known for having a number of deadly parks and Amsterdamse Bos is certainly one of them, as ravers and nature meet under a lush cloud of utopia. Sound quality is given special attention, as is capacity - Dekmantel sells out, but it never feels too crowded. It’s clean, the crowd is well-behaved, and Boiler Room host a stage there. Our interest is piqued already.
“We're being compared to a lot of festivals that are really established and we don't necessarily feel like that: we've only just begun,” said co-founder Thomas Martojo.
The political situation in The Netherlands also helps - hundreds of festivals, big and small, take place in Amsterdam alone each summer, with the authorities happy to provide licenses and permits relatively hassle-free, explains Thomas. “In terms of the politics here, the city council has been very welcoming. It may have peaked as there's a lot of festivals happening but that being said, doing a three-day event with electronic music here in Amsterdam, I think we're the only ones doing that.”
III Points, October 2018 (exact date TBC), Mana Wynwood, Miami, USA
Welcome to Miami. Bienvenidos a Miami. A city with so much Latin influence has, for years, been, somewhat surprisingly, lacking in real quality festivals. You’d associate Miami more with commercial, soulless parties than anything with real substance. Thanks to III Points, that is changing.
Similar in some ways to the world-leading Sonar festival in Barcelona and beyond, III Points is visually SPECTACULAR. Billed as a ‘music, art and technology’ festival, installations, projections, talks, art galleries and culinary cook-offs all form part of the core vibe. This is a real 360 festival - there is music, from the likes of The Gorillaz, The XX and Richie Hawtin this year, but it’s just one part of the experience, rather than the experience.
“We think of III Points as a living installation, so we are always pushing ourselves to give the festival attendees a fresh experience,” says festival co-founder Erica Freshman. “As someone who lives here, I knew Miami has a lot more to offer than confetti, EDM music and sparklers on top of champagne.”
The festival is new, but it’s growing, sharply. Attendance almost doubled in 2017. Stages have gone from one to five and a half in a couple of years. 160 artists performed in 2017, up from 50 in 2014. Whatever way you look at it, that growth is steep. The majority of the booking is local, too, something that is important to Erica.
“We are dedicated to showcasing local talent,” she explained. “60% of our lineup is always local acts. When we decide on national artists, it’s important to us that they have not performed in Miami properly, meaning they’ve never performed here, have been in the wrong type of venue or haven’t been in Miami in years.”
Miami could be moving in a better musical direction, thanks to the likes of III Points. We live in hope.
AVA Festival, June 1-2 2018, S13 Warehouse, Belfast, Northern Ireland
It’s not even 2018 and already, next year’s edition of AVA Festival is sold out. Not bad going, eh?
AVA stands for Audio Visual Arts Festival and it does what it says on the tin- focusing on the strong stable of electronic music and digital visual arts from across Ireland - north and south.
The stated goal for 2018 is to ‘provide an opportunity for emerging and established artists, DJs, producers, managers, agents, labels, designers, visual artists, promoters and guests, to share their knowledge through a free daytime conference on Friday June 1st that progresses into the ticketed AVA evening showcase and ticketed daytime and evening event on Saturday June 2nd with a lineup, paying homage to Belfast’s unique energy and character’.
Some big hitters are on the menu - Jeff Mills & Guillaume Marmin, Marcel Dettmann, Bicep, Ben UFO, Denis Sulta, as well as a conference with key artists including Leftfield, Jeff Mills and Renaat Vandepapeliere and the return of Boiler Room Belfast.
Northern Ireland has long had a reputation as a place where the crowd are right up for their music - visiting DJs often comment that it is among the best they have played to in any given year. AVA Festival Creative Producer Sarah McBriar has plenty of impressive credentials when it comes to bringing the best sides of modern festivals to life. She worked on the Block 9 area of Glastonbury, arguably one of the best installations of any festival on earth, and spent many years with The Warehouse Project crew in Manchester. She has brought her experiences and passions to life with AVA Festival in belfast and we can’t wait to check it out in 2018.