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Dekmantel Festival 2019: high on highlights

Five live acts that gave us life.

Taking place in the forest on the suburban outskirts of Amsterdam, DEKMANTEL FESTIVAL is a classy affair. It has, once again, showcased its electronic prowess as an exceptional playground and global change-maker with yet another treasure trove of musical wonders. Whether you relish raging live acts, ambient soundscapes, or vinyl classics, there is something for every taste at Dekmantel. Curating tomorrow’s music in practice today, look as far into the future as you dare with these festival highlights of out of this world programming.

Speaking of the future, Tunisian talent DEENA ABDELWAHED is the pioneer representing the new wave of Arab club music, this time around with the live performance of her debut album Khonnar. Having experienced her DJ just in February at our homebase De School, we saw Abdelwahed perform a head-spinning, audacious and compelling set of sounds that traversed through geographical borders. From demonically distorted vocals to Western drum kits and Arabesque melodies, Deena Abdelwahed wields a forward-facing approach to electronic music that you simply cannot miss.

Step into the world of RAMZI. Her sonic palette invited us on a trippy journey through endless landscapes of fluid mosaics, leading the crowd to encounter an unexpected blend of dubbed-out tribal dance music, elements of jazz and experimental grooves. It is exactly this combination that makes the audience curious for what’s to come next, and essentially recasts downtempo as a genre with more potential than party music in the deep forests of Amsterdam.

Looking to take things to the next level? That’s when you put together Varg, Posh Isolation’s Christian Stadgaard, and vocalist Isak Hansen for a boyband on steroids: THE EMPIRE LINE. This power electro meets post-punk formation, escorted by the harsh guttural sound of Hansen, ignites a rabid wave of raving that makes it one of the most explosiveand intense live experiences one should have at a music festival.

MARIE DAVIDSON, the French-Canadian dance-pop chanteuse, took the audience to higher grounds with her mesmerizing voice during her performance in the sun-drenched Greenhouse. Much like her wide-ranging DJ sets, Davidson‘s productions are notable in part for their versatility. But if there’s one thing that ties her musical ends together it’s the sense of sensuality that runs through it all. Perhaps it’s a French thing, perhaps it’s a Marie Davidson thing.

None other than queen RÓISÍN MURPHY herself took over the main stage on the final day of the festival, and had no trouble keeping up with the festival vibe while playing with a full band. Her performance consisted of a mix of rock-solid dance material, including some tracks of Moloko, and was topped off by a colorful variety of quick-and-easy outfit changesand props ( her wardrobe literally was a part of the stage!). It’s this fun cocktail that not only makes her shows unforgettable, but transforms them into performance art.

Words by  Ruben Baart
Photography by Bart Heemskerk and Yannick van de Wijngaert