Needless to say Amsterdam Open Air Festival got really lucky with the weather on both of its days, as it tends to do year in and year out.
Saturday seemed to lean slightly more towards hip-hop, pop and Caribbean electronic music acts, however there was always the Straf_Werk stage to run to for all the true house aficionados. The line-up was solid: Finnebassen started, with Jonas Rathsman following up with an unusually light set for him, perfectly fitting for the midday. He was followed by, apparently, a great fit of Nuno Dos Santos and Tsepo playing a B2B sunset set, finished by the remix of the classic Gala – FreeD From Desire. The track landed onto the lips of the dancers for the rest of the weekend (possibly even the whole week), also making it one of the weekend highlights. Regardless, none of the other performances were musically as diverse, from banging techno to garage beats, as Miami’s born and bred Danny Daze. Starting his set with his own ‘Ready2Go’, one of our last year’s top tracks and finishing with his newest “off-the-cuff mayhem grace” ‘Swim’.
Straf_Werk was not the only stage though, there was also Dominik Eulberg (Traum Schallplatten, Cocoon, Herzblut) doing his thing on Oliver Weiter’s eponymous stage. Considering the smooth pace and harmony of Dominik’s set over the sunset, it was deeply corrupted by a phoney stage set of two scantily clad go-go dancers (seriously, it’s 2016!), guarded by a stone-faced security guy in 25 degrees of emitted heat. This one didnt’ seem too necessary, not just from the misogynistic nature of the nearly nude female, but also juxtaposed against the morose expression of the security guard and put in simple term, just made people feel awkward.
Sunday was a bit more manageable, as the heat was a little less and the humidity was virtually non existent. Also, it seemd like the crowds were much sparser than Saturday, which for an ageing party animal like myself (who may or may not also have social anxiety disorder), is a very welcome sight.
Again, it was Straf_Werk that held most of our focus during the day, as the likes of (friend of DHA) Prunk got things going, followed by a nice (and nicely British) set from Huxley, who highlighted it with a reworking of the Olive classic ‘You’re Not Alone’. Following up came Dutch favorite De Sluwe Vos, who’s trademark big hair was as active as his relentless beats. Finally, the night closed off with a 1-2 punch of Green Velvet vs Route 94 (a personal favorite on the day), and the always energetic Eats Everything closing things down.
On the day, my travels found me also drawn to the more intimate Lotgenoten and Klear stages, where some more eclectic music could be heard. For example, the Benji B vs Cinnaman set that closed down Klear was full of everything from dancehall, ragga, jungle, to disco and house music, giving the very eager revellers (who ALL were there for the music) more than they could handle. Lotgenoten was an interesting stage as well, especially given its volatile crowd size, ranging from almost non existsent to packed. To my dismay, Heidi was unable to attend Open Air as she had broke her ribs, but Ferro stepped in with an extended set that didn’t disappoint. Finally, Amsterdam’s Tom Trago did was Tom Trago does, to a fully packed stage, closing down the night.
All in all Open Air is a reliable festival, especially in its social aspect. yes, all festivals are social places, buy Open Air really does strive to provide many chill spots and areas to hang out, with activities and quirky elements throughout. Though for my own personal tastes it’s a bit too bright and colorful, with a crowd too match (think flowers, short shorts, ethnic appropriation, shirtless club monsters), it still is fun. Though I didn’t cover much of the more “mainstream” sounding stages like the massive, Bear designed main stage, the smiles were aplenty so I’m sure they all captured the attention of their respective crowds.
Rightfully so, Amsterdam Open Air is a staple on the annual festival calendar, with its rolling greenery and musical and food options. Designed for everyone, it isn’t the place to bring your house music snobbery. Rather, it is a place to let your guard down and just be.