Scene Noise headed out to DGTL Amsterdam for a springtime festival experience that proved unrivalled in many aspects.
Rewind to Friday, April 14th. It’s right around the time when folks head home and night owls head out to get a glimpse at each other. And after a day of playful - and entirely legal - fun out in Amsterdam (the type that’s entirely frowned upon back home), we were catching a ferry from Amsterdam Centraal to the NDSM Docklands.
You could hear the bass rumbling in the distance, less than 10 minutes into the ride. There was already a plethora of events going on in Amsterdam that weekend. And while a certain renowned festival was celebrating its 20th anniversary nearby, this was only DGTL’s fifth. We land at the docks and make our way to the entrance, and during that walk, one can’t help but think they’re on their way to a warehouse rave, rather than an organised music festival. All the containers, graffiti, distressed industrial buildings, and scaffolding certainly contributed to that vibe.After a swift and painless entry to the grounds (told you it didn’t feel like a festival), we make our way to the Generator room, which was the only stage in business that night. Sets were scheduled between 10 PM and 6 AM. Walking into the Generator, once again a feeling of this will get raided any second now hits because it’s a huge concrete room with steel beams hanging across the ceiling and metal sheets as a backdrop behind the DJ booth. The line up featured Dutch whiz kid Pascal Terstappen aka Applescal who kicked things off with his unorthodox brand of music.
Following him up were fellow Dutchmen Patrice Bäumel and Nuno Dos Santos who had a wicked back and forth set. The opening night waged on with maestro DJ Tennis, Mathew Jonson who treated us to one of his outlandish live performances. Closing things out in the dawning hours of Saturday was left to the man who’s best known for that sort of thing - Âme’s Kristian Beyer.We took the ferry back only to catch another ferry ride again in a little over 7 hours. This time it was the real deal, 12 hours of the finest music spread across the dance music spectrum, taking place in six different rooms. And with the number of people almost quadrupling, compared to the previous night, the great staff and security helped us glide through the gates once again without a hiccup.
One thing that’s readily noticeable about the staff is how they blend in with the festival-goers. Most of them were 20-something, neatly dressed, tattoo-clad people who are more than glad to help. And even the older personnel never showed that nag to look down on you that we experience in a considerable number of events.
Commuting between stages, the amount of cosy sitting areas available was unusual given the industrialist and raw nature of the venue. Bars and food stalls were in abundance, but not just any food - vegetarian only. The image of the rebellious warehouse rave embedded in our minds from the previous night was slowly shifting into that of a more responsible and environmentally sensible approach to partying. In between making agonising decisions to moving between rooms, which frankly weighs heavily on our conscience to this day given the myriad of amazing top notch music sets, we managed to catch several DJs and live acts. Starting out with Nachtbraker’s infectious house grooves at the Filter stage and Jamie Jones and Tom Trago at the Modular stage for some classics. Henrik Schwarz at Maceo Plex’s Amp By Mosaic was also hard to miss, as he was playing one of his much celebrated live performances. And finally, Leon Vynehall b2b Ryan Elliott back at the Filter stage, which was a mind-blowingly chic set. Now, all that was left was one more ferry ride to the docks for the final day of DGTL, on Sunday the 16th. Everyone making their way out of the lockers was greeted by a tall young man giving away free hugs, everyone must’ve high-fived someone at some point making their way between rooms. It was the warmest, sunniest day of all three.
First up on our schedule was Andhim at the Frequency stage. One thing particularly staggering about that room was the tropical vibe to it. Sure we were in the middle of an industrial jungle, but the minute we stepped into that room and saw all the greenery hanging everywhere and heard the slower music, it felt like a forest. This was the perfect atmosphere for Andhim’s monkeying around in the booth. We then returned to the Generator room once more for De School resident Sandrien, the buzz around her and her sets was immense. Her mechanical approach to techno and the sound in that all-concrete room were a match made in heaven. We next caught house deity in the making: Midland, back on the Filter stage to cool down and recover from Sandrien’s stamina testing set. Our next and final choice for the day was a no brainer; Dixon had hosted the AMP stage all day and was closing it out himself with an extended set. That was an offer hard to walk away from.
Now, to describe Dixon’s set and the feelings it evoked would be very difficult because it was unlike anything we’d ever seen before. The AMP stage was on a different planet that night, we’ll let the footage speak for itself.
But walking out of DGTL that night, every little detail fell into place to form the idea that this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill festival, with its relevant/contemporary line-up. We never saw that avalanche of flower tiaras or out of place 60-somethings who found out about the event on their granddaughter’s Facebook. Those bulky guys with waxed hair and oversized black t-shirts waiting for Carola to walk in with a hoard of fake tits never showed up.
Instead, people were there for the music and the crowd was very organic. People resting on the floor were quickly approached by other concerned crowd members and friendly security to make sure they’re OK. This wasn’t the type of festival people attended to unload selfies on social media, it was one of pure enjoyment and class acts.
But then, of course, we spotted a giant arrow once we stepped outside with the word 'Afterparty' plastered on it and all this sensible, sensible thinking went away.