This past week, 5daysoff was at the center of Amsterdam’s nightlife once again. The festival is held every year at the city’s prime popvenues, Melkweg and Paradiso, provides the audience with a coherent cross-section of what’s going on in the global electronica circuit. So despite our 3 day SXSW showcase festivities looming at the horizon, BAMM decided to enter the maelstrom of beats and synths and get inspired. So, what acts caught our attention?
Every day each venue focuses on a certain segment of the electronic scene, either by inviting prominent clubnights held in the city throughout the year, leading record labels or touring events to present themselves to the audience on one of the nights. On the first day, the Paradiso featured several hip hop acts from the influential Dutch label Top Notch, while Melkweg hosted a special edition of their new event Closer, featuring artists who operate at the frontiers and cross-sections of electronic music. Despite the strong line-up at Melkweg, including Brooklyn’s post-punk-electronica wonderboy Matthew Dear and the talented British producer Gold Panda -not to mention an amusing DJ-set by Caribou’s Dan Snaith, our pick of the day is uncontested: De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig for the win!
“Who?” do I hear you thinking. Well, De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig (The Youth Of Today) is definitely one of the most influential Dutch hip hop crews to hit stages and record charts in the past 10 years. These avant-garde electrofunkateers bring a unique mix of artistic beats, linguistic innovations, and playful nonsense. Starting off as a bit of a joke, their surprise first hitsingle Watskeburt?, released in 2005, immediately catapulted them to both star- and cultstatus in the Netherlands and Flanders inflatable toys for kids. Six years laters, and with three full-length albums and countless side-projects and guest appearances under their belt, MC’s Willie Wartaal, Faberyayo, Vieze Freddie and producer Bas Bron reside at the very top of the Dutch music scene. Their 90-minute set during 5daysoff was riddled with bona fide dancefloor hits, including Elektrotechnique, Hollereer, Shenkie and Wopwopwop, and lots of fooling around.
The second day was a toss-up between the circus surrounding world-renowned Flemish mash-up and remix artists 2manydjs in Paradiso, and a night of techno at Melkweg. In the end we couldn’t resist checking out the Melkweg. Techno has a special place in the electronic spectre: despite being quite and old concept; and its development’s at a relative standstill compared to dubstep for instance; the scene is remarkably consistent, with plenty of audience to go around. Both Dutch pride Joris Voorn and Hamburg-based DJ Koze displayed their top form with tasteful sets of funky minimal and eclectic electronica respectively. But it was none other than Berlin’s first lady of techno Ellen Allien who was truly shining at Melkweg on thursday.
The 42-year old German dj/producer has been enlighting the scene since way back in 1992, but is far from retirement. Her label BPitch Control has released landmark works from the likes of Paul Kalkbrenner, Modeselektor and Apparat (more on him later), and off course her own releases. As a dj, she’s had good an bad moments. She’ll never be a virtuous mixer, and at times she tends to stick to flat beats and little variation, which makes for kind of a bland performance. Luckily, tonight is not one of those nights. She plays to her strengths, and mixes one surprising, tasteful record after the other. Ranging from electro to pop to ambient sounds to wobbling dubstep and back to pounding techno; ms. Allien is focused, in charge and shining. After a career spanning 19-years and countless nights in clubs like Melkweg, she is still as eager as ever. This lady demands a lot of respect.
Check in later this week for part 2 of our 5daysoff roundup.
Jasper van der Put (1987) is a member of BAMM’s music team. Working from Amsterdam, Jasper will share his thoughts on current developments in the music of North-Western Europe.