Amsterdam, Holland—If you’re looking for a little rest and relaxation, The Netherlands’ biggest city isn’t really the place to do it.
Not that we were trying, mind you—because once again, we had completed our participation at the Amsterdam Dance Event where we met with dozens of DJ/dance industry folks and experienced sets from loads of global DJs. The event sold out its allotment of 2,500 badges and filled 44 area venues deep into the nights.
Held this past Oct. 20-23 at Amsterdam’s Felix Meritis Centre and the nearby Dylan Hotel, the daytime portion featured seminars like the Detroit music retrospective “D25”—with that town’s DJ all-stars—plus, keynotes from newer DJ/artists like Holland’s Chuckie and classic acts like the Tom Tom Club’s Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, both founding members of Talking Heads.
The “Disintegrating Genres” panel, featuring Sander Kleinenberg, Dubfire and Pedro Winter a.k.a. Busy P of Ed Banger Records, rejected genres as merely a way for journalists to describe music to readers.
“There are only two kinds of music—good and bad,” Kleinenberg said. “It’s all about creating interesting, forward-looking and relevant music. Genres are a non-issue for me.”
On the “How to Throw a Party” panel, promoter Irfan van Ewijk said it often helps a promoter’s credibility if he winds up in jail for his efforts—he ended up in jail a few times doing poster rounds. “It gives you credit when people know you’re going that far to promote your party.”
On Frantz and Weymouth’s panel, moderated by English DJ/scribe Jonty Skrufff, the ex-Talking Heads described how touring America’s vast expanses in a van informed the existential lyrics of “Once in a Lifetime,” the Heads’ most enduring tune. “Once you get away from the coasts, the radio is all filled with religious stations and you’d hear preachers say things that just didn’t always make sense. You’d think: ‘Where am I?’ Of course, David [Byrne] would be in the backseat taking notes.”
So how, then, did the Talking Heads, make their transition into more rhythm-based music, which came with tunes like “I Zimbra” and the entire Remain In Light album?
“For ‘I Zimbra’ from Fear of Music,” says Frantz, “it was influenced by playing Afrobeat records in our loft in Long Island City. At that time, we were listening to the New York DJs at Mudd Club, Danceteria and later Paradise Garage. When we’d get off those Talking Heads tours and return to New York, we’d be ready to parrrrty!”
Party? Um, yes. Plenty of that in Amsterdam.
Early Friday night at Air for local house heavyweights Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano, the party seemed to attract the Dutch equivalent of the bridge-and-tunnel crowd. Incurious groups texting, motionless on the dancefloor, oblivious to the duo’s fat grooves. Very unlike the previous two evenings of mania, which saw Josh Wink, Carl Craig and Dubfire man the decks.
So, on to Melkweg for “Dave Clarke Presents…,” and an evening of proper techno with an audience brimming with proper enthusiasm.
As usual, Clarke delivered a blistering big-room set—bananas. In the smaller room, Robert Hood dropped a set of minimal groovers that had the room swaying and spilling more than a pint or two. Truly inspiring. Back in the big room for Green Velvet? Five words—“cameras ready, prepare to flash.” Whew.
If Friday night was my evening of techno salvation, then Saturday saw me dip my toes into the trance pool. Fact is, the venue for the “Synergy” event was so big, I had to dive in completely. At the massive Passenger Terminal—generally used for cruise ships easing into Amsterdam’s Docklands—Germany’s Cosmic Gate and Holland’s Ferry Corsten deftly mixed buzzbombs with celestial melodies, making the vast dancefloor raise arms in unison—over and over.
So, yes, luckily for my sleep cycle, the show’s finally over, too. Thanks, ADE.
– Jim Tremayne