Over the course of seven years, Amsterdam’s home grown brand, DGTL, has continued to push boundaries through music, art and sustainability. As usual, the event took place over the long Easter weekend, but this year was extra special with summer-like weather, new acts on the line up and some great new initiatives that put them closer to being the first circular and climate neutral event by 2020.
For the first time no wristbands or tokens were needed, just your bank card or an app on your phone, which reduced plastic and made paying much easier. They also introduced a great way to offset your carbon footprint from your transport to the festival. Whether you were traveling from within Amsterdam or from abroad, you could visit their website to calculate your carbon footprint, and then pay to offset it, the money going to plant trees. It’s initiatives like these that when done collectively can really make a difference, and we all need to make an effort now more than ever!
The crowd at DGTL is full of music aficionados so every act brought their A-game and it was definitely noticeable! Here is a walkthrough of the best sets we saw over the course of the weekend.
Opening Night – April 19th
DGTL officially opened Friday night with an immersive 3D art and musical experience set inside the entrance of the warehouse. As people entered it looked like floating wave of lights, almost like an equalizer floating through a night sky. This was a kinetic lighting plan that was created by three Dutch designers, Boris Acket, Nick Verstand, and Bob Roijen who partnered up DJs each night to create a fully immersive experience. This concept surrounded you and it was possible to watch from so many different angles; it was a unique twist on usual DJ set up that would be great to be seen more often.
On top of that our main motivation for opening night was to get a repeat performance from two of our favorite label founders, Koze of Pampa Records and Mano Le Tough of Maeve, who were amazing six months ago at DGTL ADE, needless to say, they delivered yet again.
Saturday – April 20th
Everyone arrived smiling in their Summer festival fashions, with splashes of 90’s neon mixed in with the standard techno black. There was a lot of skin soaking in the sun that made the experience much different to the typical Dutch weather we had to endure in previous years. I arrived just before 3 pm to catch the debut of the French/Dutch act Parrallells, two brothers who have quickly built a name for themselves since they started making music together only five years ago. Not only was it their first time to play DGTL but it was also their first time to play a totally new live performance, which included Julien mixing and, on the saxophone, and Thomas on the synth and vocals. The tent filled up quickly to see the multi-talented duo. By the time they closed with a homage to their French roots ‘Charles Aznavour- Les Deux Guitares’, the crowd was fully energized and could have easily enjoyed an encore.
We then found ourselves in the Live tent oblivious to who was playing but quickly realized it was Joaquim Pastor. He quickly locked us in with his euphoric tracks like ‘Trauma’ and his latest release ‘Effeil Powder’. Hands were in the air for the duration of his set and it was hard to make a move but with the sun shining outside we couldn’t sit still. We made our way to the transparent AMP stage where the sun was shining brightly and Archie Hamilton was blazing through a masterful set, some saying it was the best they’d ever heard him play.
Back in the fully packed Filter stage it was time to support the Bedouin boys from New York, who were working their magic with tracks like ‘Colleˊ – Magari Feat: Farari (Wild Dark Remix)’, due for release this summer. The combination of tracks like these, the sea of people in front of us and the massive disco ball that glistened above, took me to a place gratitude. It also reminded me of the foundations of house music, it’s about unity, love and acceptance regardless of everything else that makes us different. I felt these vibes over the weekend, and it was refreshing.
We then made our way back to the AMP stage to check out Detroit legend Robert Hood and his daughter who DJ back-to-back as Floorplan. I was amazed to hear their synergy as they churned out one of the grooviest house set’s I’d heard in ages. They had the crowd dancing up a storm and we were all smiles.
We closed out the night at the Modular stage, which had one of the most impressive audio and visual setups I’ve ever experienced. The massive tent with a capacity around 5,000 people had a 360-sound system so nearly anywhere you stood the music was still crisp. The visual display wrapped around us on the dance floor and the immensity left us awestruck. So many individual lights were constantly moving in interlocking strips and pulsating perfectly to each beat. The visual artists and production team who curated this need a big applause for creating such synergy with the tracks that Maceo Plex was dishing out. Weaving between his Maceo Plex and Maetrix monikers he reinvigorated our love for his style and proved he is very much at the top of his game. We left gobsmacked at what we just witnessed and uncertain at how day two could top it.
Sunday – April 21st
Sunday started full force with Bicep and then into the techno-heavy Generator stage where the laser beams were moving as fast as the beats Len Faki was spinning. After a good dose of solid beats it was time to go see the only Dutch act we saw all weekend, and one of my all-time favorites, Eelke Kleijn.
Late last year Eelke released his third studio album ‘Moments of Clarity’ on his own label ‘Days Like Nights’ and since he has been preparing his new hybrid live set which he debuted at DGTL. It was amazing to hear the intensity of tracks like ‘The Calling’ played live. The tent was packed and the energy was full throttle, it was definitely a major highlight of the entire weekend.
It was then time for the grand finale with the legendary Laurent Garnier. The visuals in the Modular stage were again on point, perfectly sync’d with every beat like they were the night before. This set was a voyage with a lot of mystery and some surprises like with Maceo Plex’s remix of Blade Runner. The best part of seeing of a DJ is hearing new sounds or hearing old ones in a fresh new way that builds excitement. This was the case when I heard a saxophone coming in the distance. I had never actually heard the French legend play his classic, so when he finally brought in ‘Man With The Red Face’, I was truly amazed at its perfectly crafted beauty. The reaction to this set was incredible. As I did a 360 turn all I could see were thousands of hands clapping in unison in total delight. It was an epic end to a blissful weekend of music.
We are now extra motivated to join the next European edition of DGTL this August in Barcelona. The full line up is out and it offers another fresh blend of talent we can’t wait to hear!
Photo Credits: Tim Buiting, Kirsten van Santen & Jordy Brada