The Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) is a pioneering program that has blown what used to be a modest festival, into a multi-tiered, multi-talented bonanza…. The experience is something I can honestly say is something that should go on your bucket list. It should be a goal to see the amazing world we can build for 5 days.
This year was bound to be lit. ADE began back in 1996, so this past year was lauded as their 20th Anniversary. The fans did not disappoint, dragging over 350,000 of themselves out to Amsterdam. This year featured nearly 3,000 artists, over 500 speakers, and more than 1,000 events this year. The 5-days was spent with people milling around, attending conferences in the day, parties and performances at night.
That’s something you need to keep in mind when referring to ADE. It truly is an event, not just a festival. The basic structure is broken down into three categories; Festival, Conference, and Playground. Festival is the music, the performances, the parties, the shows, etc. The Conference is part of the educational and progressive symposiums they host under ADE. For example, there is ADE Green.
This was ADE Green’s third year after coming into fruition, yet is such a short amount of time has accomplished so much. One of the greatest issues with mass festivals such as this is the clean-up. The mess, the trash, the stink. Plastic cups and nick bags left to never-rot all over their venues. Badly disposed of waste and all kinds of harmful, thoughtless slobbery that comes when you throw hundreds of thousands of people week-long parties. ADE Green saw this and decided to work on it. At this year’s conference an agreement was met by multiple festival companies to reduce damaging waste. Their website summarizes.
“During the 3rd edition of ADE Green, a symposium dedicated to discussing sustainability, innovation and social change in entertainment industry, eight of the Netherlands’ leading festivals signed a landmark Green Deal to make their festivals waste-free. Amsterdam Open Air, DGTL, Extrema Outdoor, Into The Great Wide Open, Mysteryland, Solar Weekend, Welcome to the Future, Zwarte Cross, plus two national organisations (sic) NederlandSchoon (‘Clean Netherlands’) and Green Events Netherlands, made a commitment to making their festivals more sustainable by reducing waste, sorting waste more effectively and increasing recycling.”
There are a variety of Conferences, such as ADE Beamlab, whose speaker this year was Sean Wilder, the Innovation Strategy Director for Immersive Ltd. Immersive is an audio-visual design team that has created stages, shows and installations, across the globe for Deamau5 and the like. During this year’s conference Sean spoke about everything from basic light shows, to their growing work with holograms.
The Playground is art and how it’s grows and plays off of technology. It is basically a catch-all where you “other”. The entire festival is spread all over the city, and the Playground has everything from a film festival, art shows, pop-up performances and interviews spread out between clubs, galleries and cafes. You could bounce from Nova, to Paradiso, to the Melkweg and find something different at every venue. There is also a cook-off.
Don’t scoff at the idea of a cook-off. I’ve realized most DJ’s and producers have an obsessive attention to detail and balance, just as a cook would, so this works. If you’ve ever been to any kind of show, ever, you’ve been starving after and wished that someone would cook you gourmet finger-food. But you’ve always ended up with McDonalds and pizza, because, duh, no one COULD cook gourmet finger-food. Those days are a thing of the past. At least, not in mid-October Amsterdam if you’re an ADE speaker or delegate. This year those folks enjoyed plates prepared by talented industry greats such as Paul Oakenfeld, David Clarke, and veteran winner, Seth Troxler. The cook-off was won by Copenhagen-born producer Rune Reilly Kølsch. This was his second win and took the time to tweet his plate, just in case you didn’t believe me about the skills.
The cook-off is just another artistic expression of the multi-talented artists who got to attend and provide for the legendary festival. The Playground also hosts a film festival and art show. The film festival included everything from indie shorts, label showcases, to intimate interviews with your favorite artists. This was the first year that ADE presented SoundSpeakers, an 8-episode series, where fans can head to Desmet Studios and have an up close and personal experience with the artists, and see them outside of their booths. Guests could submit questions beforehand, making the interviews less canned and more natural. Chuckie and Laidback Luke were just a few who we got to take a walk with this year.
During the festivities, ADE Films also showed Cineville & De Balie present: ADE Films Industrial Soundtrack for the Urban Decay
“Industrial Soundtrack For The Urban Decay is the first film to trace the origins of industrial music, taking you on a journey through the crumbling industrial cities of Europe to America’s thriving avant-garde scene.”
The art gallery boasted many entertaining exhibits, such as the official opening of Uncovered. The Art of the Album Cover II + Exclusive Live Set by Falco Benz at the Mini Galerie. Also included was Urban Art Now presents: Urban Art Festival Amsterdam, with artists like C215, Pipsqueak Was Here, Fake, BustArt, Jaune, Tankpetrol, Skount, Kenor, Graphic Surgery, and OVNI as their performers. Also notable, was the Instagram Gallery on Music Photography. The relationship between technology and art is exactly what the Playground represents, making this gallery particularly relevant.
Of course, every artists is going to present their talent in their own way. ADE is a great tool for networking and exposure, and is often used for just that. Trance powerhouse, Armin Van Buren, treated a few media moguls to a party on a canal boat, complete with him dropping his album, Embrace, for them. Musical wunderkind Martin Garrix debuted his new, independent single, “Poison” during his performance, and Axwell /\ Ingrosso dangled “This Time”, featuring Pusha T, in the crowd’s salivating faces.
ADE has proven a great place for fans to discover new music. The spotlight on DJ Nobu is deserved. The underrated electronic star has been producing incredible music for years now. “Colors” is one of the best feeling tracks you’re going to listen to for a while. His style is bright and unique, and he’s been in the dark for far too long. The Tokyo-based producer got to perform on the 18th with the eclectic Mark Ernestus.
In case you were wondering what caught festival-goer’s attention or just left them bamboozled, below is a tracklist of ADE ‘15 most shazamed songs.
10. Diplo & Sleepy Tom – “Be Right There”
9. Sam Feldt Feat. Kimberly Anne – “Show Me Love”
8. Calvin Harris & Disciples – “How Deep Is Your Love”
7. Dzeko & Torres – “L’amour Toujours” (Tiësto Edit)
6. Years & Years – “Desire”
5. Moguai Feat. Cheat Codes – “Hold On”
4. Kygo Feat. Ella Henderson – “Here For You”
3. Ronnie Flex & Mr. Polska – “Niemand” (prod. Boaz)
2. Sigala – “Easy Love”
1. Robin Schulz Feat. Francesco Yates – “Sugar” (Feat. Francesco Yates)
I’m not one to blow hundreds and hundreds of dollars on a festival. I love live music and shows, but sometimes it’s hard to defend the money. This is especially true since most of us EDM fans are probably looking for a decently paid, profession that satisfies our particular creative temperaments. But ADE is different. It’s not just an event, it’s an experience. You can make and spend that money, but these memories will last your entire life. If this year is any indication, this is only growing more impressive every year. Even if you have to start saving now for ADE ’20, be confident knowing that I’ll be there as broke and as happy as you.