It’s been a week since DGTL took over Amsterdam’s NDSM for their sixth edition. A prominent and important date in The Netherlands highly competitive (and at times, highly over saturated) festival and electronic music market, DGTL is still able to fortify its place within the countries creative eco system with consistent quality curation, as well as a forward thinking approach to Art, Technology, and Sustainability.
Last week, I wrote pretty extensively on the selections of Art at DGTL AMS 2018, which featured everything from a before-the-gate- augmented reality app (personal note, isn’t AR so much better than VR? I feel like Augmented Reality has actually always been “Reality”…topic for another day, though) to its massive installations constructed from sustainable components.
Such a focus on sustainability would be a bit hypocritical if only residing within the space of art (and the creative apparatus behind it), however; it could easily veer into holier-than-thou territory, where the template-driven liberal crowd push ideology over actual practice. At DGTL, however, every facet of the festival is built around Sustainability, with its cyclical REVOLUTION initiative (aspiring to be a 100% waste-free festival) really taking shape this year. I say “this year” as the strides in technology, approach, practice, and (even) food, each took a massive step forward, both in education and application (last year’s fragile grass burger, as I called it, was replaced by a substantial, and tasty, Portobello option this year, as one small example of this improvement). A quick tour around the event space would immediately yield views of solar powered windmills, circular waste disposal, regenerative power, and more. To me, some of the major aspects of its revolution project revolved around:
– A central food court, which used recycled materials and distinct disposal protocol. This was a refreshing change of pace as it centralised the event’s most reducing element into an easily manageable location.
– The recycling of urine phosphate, which turns pee into tea. No, you’re not directly drinking someone else’s piss. Rather, it breaks down the positive nutrients of waste into fertiliser, which in turn is used on various locally sourced food items.
– A Plastic to Oil program, which breaks down difficult to do so plastics into oil for a new, cyclical plastic production. Called Pyrolysis, this can be a revolutionary new way to curb the global epidemic plastic waste…just about all of which inevitable ends up in our oceans.
Of course, this is only the highlight of the REVOLUTION program, which also included more standard practice like cashless systems, hard cup recycling, and a surprisingly high amount of easily accesible (and digestible) environmental information (225K avg. cigarette butts per festival :/ ) scattered on site, giving patrons more than enough practical and intellectual tools to make proper decisions of their own on issues of sustainability even outside the festival gates.
Finally, of course there is the music of DGTL. I think we’ve expanded on this quite nicely over the years. I mean, it’s not like DGTL is going to present a boring lineup on any of its international editions or anything. You can rest assured on that. On this weekend, there were quality sets from just about everyone involved, across its spectrum of sound from the deeper shades of FREQUENCY (where Satori closed things down on Sunday with an amazing, emotive live set) to the more relentless GENERATOR space (Blawan, for the win) to the intimately (and artistically) set GAIN by RA (just about everyone was great here, with particular shout outs going to HAAi, Man Power, and Philou Louzolo), to the more mainstream representatives of Dance Music on MODULAR (Maceo Plex, Tale of Us, ÂME II ÂME, etc) who showed why they are who they are. Of it’s 70+ acts, DGTL featured (roughly) 12% female identifying artists, situating it within the more respectable festival gender representations around. Still a bit of a way to go until 50/50, and the showcasing of more non-caucasian acts leaves something to be desired (Jeff Mills, Theo Parrish, Honey Dijon, Hunee, Philou Louzolo, members of Damian Lazarus & The Ancient Moons, represented the extent of ethnic & cultural diversity), but I have no doubt that as the years go by, DGTL and its consistently solidifying brand identity will be at the forefront of representation for years to come.
All in all, DGTL was (of course) a top event with an energy unparalleled. Its early Spring date, usually cold/rainy weather, and non stop music create a party atmosphere distinctly unique to itself. There is a palpable sense of excitement throughout the city of Amsterdam, which only grows the closer one gets to the industrial NDSM. For me, and my inevitably jaded (possibly pretentious) industry approach, I always ask myself…if I didn’t work in this world, would I spend the money out of pocket to go to this event. I can tell you that there are only TWO events where I would actively spend to attend as a fan, Dekmantel Festival and…yes, DGTL! This is am Amsterdam electronic institution who’s multi faceted approach to the future of the festival (and planet) can only be admired.
Featured Image: Tim Buiting