The Extrema brand are on the brink of a huge milestone with their 20th anniversary just around the corner. Also venturing across the border with a sister event in Belgium, the Eindhoven-based festival takes place around a lake just outside the city centre. At Extrema you can expect a bustling carnival atmosphere, a series of dazzling arenas and a huge main stage with an aura like no other.
Some say the Dutch audience have the broadest spectrum of musical knowledge in Europe, with that in mind the line up was always going to be made up of a stellar cast. From EDM through to drum’n’bass and techno with hints of house thrown in for good measure, this was a sure fire hit with the 30,000-strong crowd.
Upon entering through the main gates, you are met by a wall of colour and and array of happy punters all lining their pockets with those trusty festival tokens. It’s still up in the air whether the tokens are a plus or a negative at these foreign festivals, what they do do though is provoke a fair amount of debate. Navigating our way across the grounds we started with an early techno installment laid down by local boy De Sluwe Vos taking the reins on the Emerald stage. Moving around the lake we caught the end of Erol Alkan, who provided a heavier grimy set from his usual disco outings; perhaps catering for the Dutch audience, this sounded like the Erol of old and really got the crowd going.
Back at the Emerald stage we were on the receiving end of a double pronged attack of English techno. First up was James Ruskin, who curated a moody but pivotal early afternoon set. He was followed by Ben Sims, who followed on with a sublime dubby effort, it was a proud moment to catch the UK guys showing the Dutch how to work the ones and twos.
The Diamond stage was the epicentre of the whole park. Its jaw dropping production and timely lazer bursts were also met with a well-tuned sound system. We caught a glimpse of Laidback Luke and Nervo where performing after one another. Among the crowd pleasing hits in Laidback Luke’s playlist was an edit of Chemical Brothers classic ‘Hey Boy Hey Girl’ whilst Nervo jumped in with a plethora of sublime dub cuts.
Sandwiched between the ever present stages Emerald and Diamond was an intimate house and bass area with Zed Bias and Levon Vincent heading things up. Both had timely slots, with Zed Bias capturing everyone’s attention with some old school London cuts married with a selection of sultry house numbers. Levon then teased his fans with a variation of deeper blends and rounded things off nicely.
Jeff Mills finished off the Emerald stage with a three-hour stomper. Firmly maintaining his grip on the audience accompanied by the ever present, stunning lazer show, he rounded off the stage with an arsenal of heavyweight techno bombs. After Fedde Le Grande performed, a huge firework display took place over the main stage just to rubber stamp the success of the whole show.
The production is also worth a mention; there were cannons shooting off stages, complex lighting rigs and 3D mapping, right the way through to the quirky stalls and innovative dancing groups. Fantastic festival all round, we can’t wait for the 20th anniversary!
Words: Jasper Price