Amsterdam Dance Event 2012 - Review

Words by: Marcus Barnes
Posted: 5/11/12 8:58

Amsterdam Dance Event 2012 - ReviewThis year marked the 17th annual Amsterdam Dance Event, and was undoubtedly the biggest so far. Having been to Amsterdam for ADE over the last two years, the growth was clear to see with a huge number of media exponents, as well as DJs, promoters, bookers, agents and so on making their way to the Dutch capital to get down to business. And it's this aspect of ADE that sets it apart from Miami's WMC, which although set out as a conference, is typically more geared towards partying.

Understandably the weather, beaches and numerous hotel pools in Miami help to promote this party atmosphere whereas in Amsterdam, though there are endless parties happening at night, the autumnal weather is not really conducive to partying all day. Perfect really because it means everyone knuckles down and gets their heads into arranging meetings, forming new relationships or strengthening already exisiting ones – as well as attending panels and simply standing outside the Dylan Hotel and the Felix Meritis to talk about music.

To give you an idea of how big this event was, here are some of the figures – 200,000 visitors overall, with 350 media outlets represented, 1,700 artists and 75 venues taking part in the whole thing. All in all this made 2012 ADE's biggest year thus far.

The merits of criticism in electronic music with Nick DeCosemo (editor of Mixmag), Josh Glazer (URB magazine) and Andrew Gaerig from Pitchfork, along with chairman Todd Burns from Resident Advisor.I was very fortunate this year to be invited to speak on a panel myself, discussing the merits of criticism in electronic music with Nick DeCosemo (editor of Mixmag), Josh Glazer (URB magazine) and Andrew Gaerig from Pitchfork, along with chairman Todd Burns from Resident Advisor. Though I was worried about the whole thing beforehand, not being much of a public speaker, it actually went really well and the issues surrounding the relevance of reviews, the effect of online reporting (blogs etc...) and many other topics relating to the role of the music journalist in the 21st century were covered in a laid back, humorous and informative chat.

This was just one of many, many panels that took place during the conference – from Dutch-based discussions through to new talent having a voice, technological advancements and many more.

A favourite of mine was the '25 Years Of Def Mix' panel, which featured Hector Romero, David Morales, DJ Meme and Frankie Knuckles along with Def Mix Lady-In-Chief, Judy Weinstein. There's an air of authority and romance about the way in which these people speak about the way things were when they were first coming up, in the times when the music we know today was still in its embryonic stages – a bygone era that will never be repeated. They all accepted that things were very different compared to back then, but there was rarely a hint of negativity, just acceptance and the notion that evolution is a part of what they do and they just have to adapt and stay at the top of their game. Very humbling and informative.

Maceo Plex played a set in the JC.Rags store The whole of Amsterdam was taken over the course of ADE's five days, with music industry representatives everywhere you went. One of ADE's most interesting additions this year was the ADE Playground – a series of pop-up events that took place all over Amsterdam. For instance, Maceo Plex played a set in the JC.Rags store on one day.

Elsewhere the Boiler Room pulled off another special show with Ame and Dixon playing a set in an old hotel room, feathers flew and hearts fluttered as they crafted another impeccable set for a select crowd. Then there was the cookery school, where various members of the electronic music fraternity worked their magic on the hobs, rather than the decks. At the bitterly contested cook-off, there was little surprise (on my part at least) that Seth Troxler once again reigned supreme.

One of my first points of call music-wise was Jeff Mill's sublime Cine-Mix at the EYE Film museum – just a short (and free) ferry trip across the waters from Amsterdam Central was where the venue for this extra special event was located. Jeff used four decks to mix together a selection of music specially created for the Cine-Mix, where he performed a live mix to soundtrack cult science-fiction silent movie Die Frau im Mond (The Woman in the Moon) created by Fritz Lang in 1928. The Wizard worked his magic in the corner of the room while a packed out cinema room watched in awe as the film played out in front of them, Jeff playing his spacey beats to match up with the film's various dramatic (and often amusing) scenes, culminating in the standout scene where a rocket takes off into space. A slightly leftfield, but thoroughly enjoyable start to ADE's evening entertainment.

Eats Everything and Justin MartinAfter which, I headed to the Ovum party at Chicago Social Club where Steve Bug and Josh Wink played a strong back-to-back set, while upstairs in the loft area there was plenty of bounce as plenty of traditional 4x4 house was laid down – including Dale Howard's excellent The Hook, which was recently released on Noir.

Other notable highlights from the plethora of parties that went on at ADE during the week included Pete Tong's night at AIR, where Eats Everything and Justin Martin tore the club a new one with a huge, bass and beats-driven set. Over at Trouw (which has become one of my favourite clubs in the world), Maya Jane Coles powered her way through a typically dark and dubby set, Zebra Katz's menacing Ima Read and BareSkin's Eyes nestled in among her well-crafted selection. What an amazing club as well, perfect for a dark, sweaty rave with a powerful sound system and a crowd who partied as though it was the first time they'd ever been anywhere.

A back-to-back from Cajmere and Maceo Plex and Deetron's superfluous skills were also among the highlights of ADE's night-time entertainment. Not forgetting the ridiculous interior at De Diuf, a church which is now used as a social venue – Dutch legend Dimitri played, along with a pair of younger Dutch stars, William Kouam Djoko and Boris Werner, plus a back-to-back set from Ryan Crosson and Eats Everything.

 Junkie XLAnd, on the slightly more commercial side of things, Pretty Lights played to a packed 'house' at a huge huge venue just outside Amsterdam's centre. The amazing venue, named Concertgebouw is a gargantuan concert building which played host to Pretty Lights, local hero Junkie XL and more – with a slightly different crowd to the other parties I attended, though the atmosphere was impressive, as was the stage set up. Who'd have thought that electronic music would be showcased at the same venue where Beethoven's works get regular play?! Later in the week Richie Hawtin, Loco Dice, secretsundaze and London underground stalwarts Lo:Kee* were also responsible for some of the better parties in the Dutch capital.

So, all in all, another hugely successful year for ADE - from the massive parties featuring underground heroes like Hawtin, through to the DJ Mag Top 100 bash, ADE's University, panels that worked on moving our scene forward, unusual gig locations, new business relationships, the good times, the down times and everything in between. A big salute goes out to all the people behind the scenes who made it work as smooth as it did. Until next year...

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