Last Saturday saw Buiten Westen Festival hosting its fourth edition at Westerpark, a stone’s throw away from the Amsterdam city centre. The sold-out event covered six stages where visitors could enjoy a well-curated selection of DJs in house, techno and disco – some of the biggest names brought to the table were Fritz Kalkbrenner, Kerri Chandler, Delano Smith, Aeroplane, Late Nite Tuff Guy, Claptone, Culoe de Song, Max Cooper, Lil Louis and Italojohnson. There was something for everybody though, even for those those that did not even come for the music specifically, but more for the atmosphere, the sideshows, carnival attractions or the open air catwalk of beautiful, and beautifully dressed, people dancing and strolling by. 

Pictures by: Steve Rickinson

First up was the massive Pleinvrees stage. Set up as a multi story residence style facade straight out of Old Havana, Pleinvress offered some of the day’s more melodic house. Our day kicked off around 3pm when the 1/2 punch of Illesnoise followed by Nora en Pure got the (huge) crowd grooving instantaneously with seductive beats and undeniable stage presence. The latter set eventually giving way to Fritz Kalkbrenner‘s live set where there was not a frown to be found. Once Fritz dropped his edit of brother Felix’ seminal anthem ‘Berlin Calling’ it was safe to say the festival reached peak emotion. Fritz Kalkbrenner was followed by the masked and mysterious Claptone, who’s star seems to rise with each and every appearance. Claptone provided his usual mixture of retro fitted cosmic house, bouncing with the beat, as well as with the still up-for-it crowd.

With the energy of Pleinvrees permeating the intimate festival grounds, we found our way to one of the events farther stages where Next Monday’s Hangover hosted a stage of underground heroes. With live sets coming from two Kompakt favourites, Weval followed by Dauwd, the smoothed out nature of the Hamburg-based label set a tone that would get deeper throughout the day. Following Dauwd came a seemingly massive 2.5 hour set from two DJs-of-the-moment, Daniel Avery & Barnt, given just the right amount of time to gradually transcend the day’s sunshine into the haze of the evening to come. Next Monday’s Hangover then really brought out some heavy hitters with 3 x 1.5 hour sets beginning with South Africa’s Culoe de Song, followed by the one and only artistry of Israel’s Guy Gerber and wrapping up with Amsterdam’s favourite son Job Jobse.

See also: Interview: Max Cooper

The Cartel stage, although inside, hit all the right buttons, from the water fountains behind the DJ booth to the all-encompassing dance floor that was put to use. Delano Smith, one of many old Chicago masters lined up that day, was playing a mix of early house (like golden oldie “Your Love” by Terence Parker), mixed up with rougher cuts and some surprising edits to spike up the energy level in the room, like one of Depeche Mode’s new wave anthem “Enjoy The Silence” – which came perhaps a bit too early in the day to get the response it fully deserved.

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Up next at Cartel was Murat Tepeli, the Berlin vinyl-head and, together with long time friend Prosumer, the co-runner of generic house label Potion. Murat Tepeli’s taste in house is unassailable, digging for one acid gem after another, following up an act such as Delano Smith gracefully. The Cartel stage was starting to fill up with more people as the sun was starting to set.

Right Next door was ZeeZout‘s stage, which was flooded by house and techno lovers to see artists like Lil Louis, Dutch maestro GERD, and Italojohnson, the enigmatic German trio who have become just as known for their eclectic sets as for their brilliant way of marketing themselves – or complete lack thereof. Solely letting their music speak for itself has gotten them to be noticed as one of the most exciting underground acts of recent years, and they keep their reputation from the first track onwards.

Following up at ZeeZout stage is a b2b from Rush Hour comrades Interstellar Funk and Robert Bergman. The duo are a match made in heaven. Their record collection runs deep, with tracks from Greg Baeto, Gesloten Cirkel, Soundstream, and Jacob B (with the allmighty “From The Underground”), but they don’t hesitate to play a popular track or two like “Feel My MF Bass” by Paul Johnson or Blackwater by Octave One. Their closing set maybe didn’t attract as many people as Alle Farben at Pleinvrees, but the atmosphere they transmitted through the speakers sure kept the crowd in equally high spirits.

See also: Paul Johnson Podcast

Buiten Westen