Festival flashback: Dekmantel 2018

Keep your body moving.


There’s only so much a body can take when raving on for three—or even five—consecutive days. But again, this year’s edition of Dekmantel Festival somehow caused all sense of limitation to cease. Glamcult embarked on the experimental tour de force once more, embracing both the bright heights and dark corners of electronic music. And despite having to make difficult choices between the many names on Dekmantel’s huge line-up, gems weren’t so hard to find. Here’s the acts that still have our headphones buzzing.

Kicking off our festival experience with a local talent, we first turn to upsammy—also known as Thessa Torsing—for an ethereal dose of sonic scapes. There’s a rare quality about an upsammy set; it’s both introverted and euphoric, both eerie and dreamy. Her live demeanour is an utmost state of concentration, upsammy’s superpower being her attention to detail and a prevailing sense of impending doom. Releasing music on Nous’klaer, amongst others, we can’t wait for what’s next in this producer’s beautiful universe.

Whatever it is that Objekt mixes, it is ruthless. The acclaimed selector and producer blasts off his closing set in Dekmantel’s giant ‘UFO’ tent on a steady techno tempo, but as always, doesn’t fail to shock and make a U-turn where he deems necessary. His best surprise comes in the form of Sophie’s Immaterial, likely our favourite Dekmantel track of the year, taken from one of the best albums of the year. From there, Objekt’s brilliant and experimental rave is a rough rollercoaster—not for the faint of heart.

What’s not to worship about DJ Stingray? As mentioned in our festival preview, our hopes regarding the hooded force from Detroit are ever high—and thankfully, each and every expectation is made true. Mixing at the speed of light, with all Dekmantel strobes in overdrive, Stingray’s rocky yet seamless mix of electro, techno, bass and even funk and trap turns his audience, rapidly getting more and more naked, into a steamy mess. If you didn’t move/sweat/undress to this living legend before, make sure you do ASAP.

The best thing about festivals is that they come with surprises. At Dekmantel, one of them is a blast from the past: out of nowhere, the instantly familiar voice of Nitzer Ebb—better known as Douglas McCarthy—echoes through ‘UFO II’ on Sunday afternoon. Backed by producer Terence Fixmer under the Fixmer/McCarthy moniker, the enigmatic singer leads his eager audience into a frenzied techno trance. And somehow that makes complete sense at this year’s festival, as EBM makes a bigger comeback than ever.

When God said, “Let there be house”, he also probably mumbled, “Let there be Carista”. Taking over the Boiler Room for the first time, this Glamcult favourite and resident of De School takes Amsterdam’s forest to higher levels with a set that is, more than anything, full of joy. With influences ranging from jazz to garage, and her generous smile ever matching the throbbing music, dancing is really the only option. And the good thing is: you can relive the entire experience right here.

From the very first festival day to the last, the question where one should conclude the festival doesn’t even need to be asked. The answer is Helena Hauff, and everyone knows it. Taking over the main stage for the first time without losing an inch of credibility, the fact that Hauff provides Dekmantel 2018’s euphoric grand finale is exactly what makes the festival so great. From one track to the next—each marked by her high-speed, synth-heavy, electro-infused, dark and often choppy signature—Helena indisputably crowns herself Queen of Techno. And all bow down.

Header image: Helena Hauff by Bart Heemskerk

Words by Leendert Sonnevelt



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