As Amsterdam plowed through merely a dozen festivals this past summer all of which with immense line-ups, perfect weather and people buzzin’ with the excitement of the fresh air, the end of August meant one thing and one thing only: it was time for one of Amsterdam’s fastest growing brand to leave its mark as Straf_Werk Festival was about to open its gates for the second time.
We found ourselves walking towards a remote location, closing in to the suburbs. It’s a place in Amsterdam that breathes tranquility and peace. On this particular August day that was radically changed when Straf_Werk Festival set up camp at Sportpark Riekerhaven. One way of noticing that was every means of transportation was overflowing with people that had only one thing in mind, and that was music and a hell of a good time.
Leaving behind the concrete mainstage we ventured into the miniature forest that can only be compared as an oasis in the desert for those that live their lives within paved roads. As you stepped onto the grass you were instantly connected. The sound and vibrations propagated from the other side of the park was slowly fueling your body with energy. After a mild and short trip though whiskery “wilderness” we reached the gate and we easily entered the festival as the lines were moving fast.
Despite the previous murky and rainy days this one was a lot better during the largest part of the event. The sun was up, you were one with the nature and the music was blasting from every corner of the glade and you could instantly get in the festival spirit as the sea of people was wondering from side to side looking for their sound of choice.
We had a quick scoop through ‘Trappenhuis’ where Agoria was underway, warming up the crowd and tiring down the wooden paved dance floor with his energetic spacey lo-fi sound. We were in a rush. We headed out and on our way to the big stage we were greeted with dance, good will and high amounts of energy from Prunk who was well underway with his B2B set with PONY. Disco, house and the UK deep house sound were a nice sidedish to the festival’s rougher musical edges.
Inches away from the ‘Ruimte’ stage where Jamie Jones already started playing, we ventured in a more at home part of the glade. The way towards the stage left us breathless, the past rainy days left their mark. It felt like a stampede of water and mud, but don’t think that made any difference. People present couldn’t care less and made the most of it.
The Ruimte stage, promised a different spectacle. Covered slimly with a round overhead to reflect the sun, the area, mostly paved normally aided as a coliseum surrounded by glimpses of both worlds; nature and steel, all perfectly intertwined. The music on the other hand was an exhibition in itself. Jamie Jones’ set was eccentric and high in energy, just what the doctor ordered. Full on minimal conveyed sounds that were layered on a house and tech base brought about a modern yet spaced out sensation. JJ’s set seemed endless; he kept tilling and turning things from onward and upwards till the set reached saturation.
It was time to surf around the location some more as we winded up at the Thump stage. The surroundings of the stage gave the impression of a old barn, with a rustic feel and the music played by GERD was of the same caliber. The Rotterdam-born DJ was fusing genres with such easiness that it left us a bit astonished. House was the stages main course and as minutes passed, the place was getting richer and richer with people.
Onward we went and we headed back to Trappenhuis where we got to see the opening minutes of Ten Walls. With a packed up tent, it was impossible to even see the stage, but in our eyes, “Walking With Elephants” sounded much better gazing at the sundown. As Ten Walls accustomed us, over the course of summer with his numerous appearances, his sound lacks no energy and conveys a misty appeal when all sounds fall into their right place.
As Ten Walls became too thrilling for us, we felt the need to retreat at Ruimte once again and catch the final two acts. Kink was way into his set by the time we got there and his passion for rhythm and analogue sounds was felt onto the dance floor as the concrete pavement was moving beneath our feet and the sea of people was surging like a wave. By the time the sun set beneath the trees, Tensnake took control of the last 2 hours of the Straf_Werk Festival. Things began to become murky, lights were flashing and the dancing mood was on. The remembrance of the last hour is quite fading away. All I can tell you is that my phone’s step counter showed a distance of 10 kilometers of dancing between 10 PM and 11 PM, the exact times Tensnake was on the stage. What an ending it was.