Amsterdam Dance Event ’15: Tech-House Paradises, Captivating Trance, & Jackmaster’s Dominance

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While the daytime portion of Amsterdam Dance Event hammered attendees with a treasure trove of industry knowledge, the festival programming hit everyone with a sledgehammer of beats and fun for five-plus days.

With 2,289 artists playing across over 1,000 events throughout the city, there was something for literally any person who considers themself a fan of electronic music. The city itself was transformed into an EDM mecca of sorts, with an estimated 365,000 visitors bustling and shuffling to the grooves of dance music’s brightest talents.


DJ Times made its annual Dutch voyage to the festival, and here’s what we caught at its parties:

Wednesday evening kicked off with a trip to the North for Armada Captivating’s party at the floating Undercurrent. It was a night of high-octane journeys into the realm of trance, with ethereal melodies, huge vocals, and a beautiful assault of hands-up moments characterizing much of the night. The night itself presented an interesting dichotomy to Armada’s party at the massive Heineken Music Hall at ADE 2014, as this year’s venue was much more intimate endeavor.

Spread across two distinct rooms, the party boasted performances from Armada mainstays, newbies, and close associates (including John Dahlbäck, Mark Sixma, and Andrew Silva). It’s not shocking that the surprise guest—one Mr. Armin van Buuren—gave the audience an absolute thrill, with the 600-person room an environment in which few will ever get to experience the trance titan. However, a personal highlight had to be headliner—and October DJ Times coverboy—Andrew Rayel, whose high-energy set was taken to the next level from his own palpable joy and excitement. Don’t miss our chat with the Moldovan prodigy about his cover, performance, and forthcoming album here.

Back near the city center, the boys of Soul Clap brought a stellar Crew Love showcase to subterranean club Closure. The Boston natives brought friends Nick Monaco and No Regular Play along for the voyage, with the latter’s laid-back house grooves augmented with member Greg Paulus’ live trumpet stylings. When Soul Clap finally took to the decks of the steamy club, the crowd was treated to smooth E-Funk sailings for hours.

It all went Pete Tong on Thursday, as the BBC Radio One DJ brought his star-studded party to Rembrandtplein’s AIR nightclub for a jam-packed night of music. Danish DJ/producer Kölsch dropped a sea of emotional techno odysseys, full of sweeping melodies and long builds. That tone was continued by Tong himself, who eschewed any sense of commercial house hits he may play on his radio show in favor of a moody, vocal-less ambiance.

The Red Bull Play Rooms hosted a special album release party featuring Loco Dice on Friday.

The Red Bull Play Rooms hosted a special album release party featuring Loco Dice on Friday.

Friday night had an early start thanks to Loco Dice’s secret album launch party at the Red Bull Play Rooms in Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District. The night was a true clubbing playground, with multiple rooms, floors, and even a fully-functional tattoo parlor serving as a plethora of stimuli for the excited denizens. The packed main room was adorned with marble columns and climbing ivy, and Dice laid out some bumping techno throughout the night.

However, it was the hidden, sub-100-person backroom that housed German techno duo Pan-Pot that proved to be the spot to hit. The pair was fresh off a huge performance at a huge HYTE warehouse party the night before, so the tiny room—complete with a stripper pole and dancer in the middle—was a truly unique way of taking in their pounding techno slammers.

Afterward, it was time to pull an all-nighter with Jamie Jones and the rest of the Hot Creations crew for the ADE edition of Paradise. This year’s (expectedly) sold-out event was once again put on by the DGTL festival, which nestled it once again in the NDSM complex’s Scheepsbouwloods. Offering two massive warehouse rooms, Paradise ADE was a stunning mix of tech-house’s freshest beats and carefree vibes. The second area hosted a pair of bomb back-to-back sets from Eats Everything & Richy Ahmed and Patrick Topping & wAFF, but it was Jones’ own two-plus-hour closing performance in the main room that kept the crowd going until after the lights came on.

Jackmaster's Paradise set was a highlight of ADE 2015. | Photo: Marty Marn Photography

Jackmaster’s Paradise set was a highlight of ADE 2015. | Photo: Marty Marn Photography

Of the entire week of ADE, though, there stood one true champion: Jackmaster. The Glasgow-native delivered a pair of performances during the week—a high-profile slot at Jamie Jones’ Paradise and an unannounced set at All Gone Pete Tong—that turned out the discerning ADE crowds into a swarming, grooving mass. The magic of a Jackmaster set is that of a true selector: there’s little in the way of predictions one can make going into the set. From roaring diva house—Bicep’s edit of Dominca’s dance classic “Gotta Let You Go”— to squelching tech-house belters, the Scot truly made each night his own.

Of course, what we could manage to see in a week of ADE is a minor fraction of the limitless possibilities any other fan could embark on. The fear of missing out is real, and we’re already looking forward to making our schedule for ADE 2016.

But mostly we’ll miss the Belgian French Fries.