In the days leading up to last weekend, the stacked festival landscape saw itself somewhat worried with heavy rains in the forecast. Rain is something that seemingly comes with the territory here in Amsterdam, where only the heaviest of downpours can cancel the show (see July’s Welcome to the Future).
Though the field was muddy, the skies were grey, and temperatures low, the Pleinvrees faithful were given a spot of luck when Friday seemed to take the brunt of the bad weather leaving Saturday (relatively) dry. With a professional and experienced crew behind the event, precautions were taken, including wooden bridges, covered dancefloors, and heating units where needed, leading to an intimate festival experience heavy on atmosphere, smiles, and vibes.
With a noon start time, I was running a bit late, but by 4pm I had walked into the gates of the picturesque sports Riekerhaven. At this point I really can’t tell these park venues from one another, although I’m sure a local could. Regardless though, for someone with a very limited relationship with the outdoors, expansive green spaces are always a welcome sight.
The grounds were intimate, with six stages spanning the contemporary sounds of electronic music. From the live stage to Back-to-the-80’s and everything in between, dance music was the name of the game at Pleinvrees. Additional to the two mentioned, stages were hosted by German label KaterMukke, the German Superfriends andhim, whose stage acted as a de facto “main stage” area, and Typsich. Finally, yours truly, also held a stage and, obviously, that’s where most of my time was spent.
As mentioned, the grounds were easily navigable with frills mostly in the form of activities. Aside from the music and food, there were massage areas, chill out spots abound, table tennis, and more. There was even a handful of merchant booths, including a realtor bringing attention to home purchasing and an interesting art sale featuring festival leftovers; for example, a cigarette butt or an empty baggie, mounted and framed. Though the art did hold an aesthetic appeal, and was one of those simple why-didn’t-I-think-of-that things, the average cost of 2500 Euro for a discarded wristband or used condom seemed a bit steep, to say the least.
Regardless of the embellishments, Pleinvress was still about the music, with each and every stage rocking and grooving for the entirety of the event. Some standout sets including live performances from France’s Worakls and Germany’s Marek Hemmann. Other sets of note came from Berlin’s Monkey Safari, who were followed by a performance from the one and only Guy Gerber.
The females force was also well represented at Pleinvrees. Though still a fraction of the final lineup, each stage featured a prominent female DJ, including the likes of Illesnoise, Nora en Pure, Miss Melera (who went b2b with Oliver Weiter at the festival and afterparty), and Berlin’s queen of deep Mira.
Our Deep House Amsterdam stage was benefited by location. Tucked away towards the back of the grounds, and providing attendees with as much solid dancefloor as was to be found, the vibes here were undeniable. Reaching a head with the feel good energy of Tsepo vs Konstantin Sibold‘s set (where were you when GALA‘s Freed From Desire dropped…festival peak!), our stage featured a who’s who of DHA favourites. From Gardens of God to Daniel Bortz, the tiki bar in the woods held some of the event’s most consistent energy (and I’m not just saying that because I work here).
Sure enough, as Pleinvrees Heroes wound down, the rain did pick up. By this point the weather was pushing many to the exits, yet the determined remained. By the time 11pm came around, the day was exhausted but not enough so to not attend Pleinvrees Heroes By Night at De Marktkantine, where many of the festival headliners also played. I’d write a bit more about the afterparty, but the memory is a bit…scarce on that topic.
All in all, the intimacy and family atmosphere of Pleinvrees Heroes was its most enduring quality. With an evenly built lineup of headliners, locals, favourites, and newcomers, the event lived up to its potential. It was a nice counter to the massive clusterfuck that was last weekends Mysteryland, where it took 45 minutes just to walk from stage to stage. With Pleinvrees Heroes, everything was at arms length, making for an accessible, easygoing time.