It’s difficult to try and capture the atmosphere of a music festival in words, especially as this is my first review of one. In all honesty I was relying on my backstage pass to enable me to win some information worthy of a good article and on my experience as a visitor from the previous year’s edition. So there I was, wide eyed, with notepad and all ready to experience this adult’s fairground called Buiten Westen.
As I stepped on to the terrain, I noticed that the general mood was a positive one with hoards of mid-twenty something’s, scattered and dancing, giddy with excitement. On first impressions – this place was vast and chaotic. After having familiarized with this unknown territory by taking a quick tour of its six stages it became apparent that this festival was not so huge as others I had recently experienced in Amsterdam. It was in fact quite an intimate and relaxed setting. Small groups were dotted along the sunny hill chilling to Karmon’s set at the already busy Pleinvrees stage and other carefree individuals were warming up to Dirty Doering’s electronic beats at NMH.
With clear signage the stages were easy to locate but due to their proximity, the various music styles would sometimes merge into one, loud, noisy sound. As I wandered around a little bit more, still trying to process everything around me, I found a little flight of stairs that took me to the packed food area, but props to the organization for making this space accessible by separating it from the rest of the festival. Although there was a lot going on, the layout and structure of this festival was spot on.
Not feeling particularly hungry but eager to experience at least a couple of stages, I made my way to the PaardenKracht stage. I decide to go backstage, the atmosphere there is relaxed, no arrogance whatsoever and those there were generally very welcoming and open to dialogue. As I sit with my cold beer in the hot sun I see the guys from Homework and SHMLSS chatting away and Rush Hours Tom Trago, waiting to go on for his set that starts at half past four. I offer him a cigarette and we have a quick chat about him not being particularly nervous and how he doesn’t really know what he is going to play for the crowd, he goes on to say that the crowd’s energy and their vibe will help him with that.
When I ask him about his major influences he explains that black soulful music from the early-80’s such as Prince played a huge role in his development as a DJ i.e. at that time expensive and new studios were built where producers combined live music with disco and house. It’s time for him to go so I leave and make my way back out to the front of the stage. It’s quite obvious that many in the crowd have come to see him especially – their roar of support as his set starts and the rain of confetti that subsequently explodes across the stage could not be a better welcome.
Next up is the massive Pleinvrees stage. I arrive as Wankelmut is half way through his set and it’s refreshing to see a DJ lose himself in their performance – the sun comes out and the crowd is going wild as the beat kicks in of his popular release ‘My Head is a Jungle’. So much energy and so little time, as his girlfriend tells me that they will not be able to experience the festival fully as they will be jetting off to another gig immediately after his performance. I walk around the stage and I bump into the organizers from Milkshake Festival, who tell me that they are checking out the stage and its capacity for their festival the following day. Again the vibe here is positive which is reflected in the chit chat and networking behind the podium and in the upbeat energy from the audience who are there for the likes of Oliver Schories, Alle Farben and Adriatique.
At BlackOut, people were dancing on the hill to Huxley’s extraordinary set and to Danny Daze’s dirty deep techy sound. Next to Pleinvrees and PaardenKracht, which was one of the three open air stages.
The sun is going down and my time is nearly up, so I decide to head over to PaardenKracht again. I meet Kunna who was responsible for Buiten Westen’s marketing campaign and creative set up. We had a good conversation in which she explained that her parties were about stimulating people to dance, in her words it was ‘time to really dance’ – this was genuinely reflected in what I was seeing and experiencing at the stage, a true festival vibe. A happy and lively crowd, blow up animals and umbrellas bouncing up and down, one of the SHMLSS DJs expressed how it was this kind of environment that won his preference in playing at festivals over clubs.
As I take off my wristband I have some regrets in not being able to visit the other stages long enough to have an impression of their concept and DJs they promote. At the same time I am glad to have spoken to those who contributed to this year’s edition of Buiten Westen i.e. security, drugs information teams, DJs, bookers, friends and family of and organizers. Now it’s my time to enjoy the last couple of hours of this festival as I make my way to my personal favourites Agoria and later on to Adriatique’s closing…