DGTL Barcelona proved to be another ground-breaking edition of the Dutch brands’ growing event series with stand out performances from Amelie Lens, Coyu and Mall Grab.
We landed in Barcelona full of anticipation, excitement and curiosity about the festivals’ unique location, coordinated logistics and the type of crowd we could expect (given the time of year and vastly competitive events that were also on during this weekend). It was our first visit to Catalonia and after a day settling into the vibrant individualism that Barcelona had to offer, we were left more than ready to head into the electronic realms of DGTL Barcelona on Friday. Arriving at Parc Del Fòrum early, it gave us plenty of time to wonder around the industrious grounds of the festival site – like previous editions of DGTL we’ve attended – the dockland theme remained robust and pragmatic. Hundreds of shipping containers strategically positioned around the many solar panels, concrete steps and pools worked well and in turn provided a simplistic feel that was easy for festival attendees to not only adjust with, but to conveniently meander from stage-to-stage; making it clear that accessibility was a key factor in the organisation process. Although decor – compared to some large scale festivals – was perhaps lacking, the overall stripped-back and metallic nature of DGTL Barcelona felt more than appropriate given the essence of artists and considerably raw techno on display.
After much exploring and finding our feet with the festival grounds we were ready to approach our first set and the first artist(s) of the weekend, who happened to be the much-loved Zurich duo, Adriatique – who were commanding the Modular stage with fine confidence. Known for their melodious tones and organically driven sounds, the two Adrian’s turned on the show with the deeply moving and show-stopping track choice of Soulholic’s & 7Options ‘Memorial Day‘ which led to a contemplative moment of joy among the sea of ravers. Directly succeeding the boys on the same stage was Irishman, Mano le Tough who proceeded to take the crowds’ energetic crux to the next level with some mind-melting numbers entwined with pleasantly soulful picks. An Italodisco track that stuck with us most was Doctor’s Cat’s ‘Feel The Drive‘, perfectly encapsulating DGTL Barcelona’s extraordinary opening day.
The sun had set and now the real challenges of Friday began – with huge clashes across all stages – we were forced into making some difficult choices. Opting to catch the emotive and transcendent power of Kölsch & Michael Mayer on the open-air AMP stage, we felt this was a solid decision. The atmosphere was electric among the largely international community of globetrotting ravers who had now engulfed the extensive dance space. The B2B proceeded to exhibit the affectionate side of electronic music and was a beautiful testament to the good nature and spirited aura the pair emanate so often during their performances. Closing off the day one was some fascinating prospects: Tale of Us, Marcel Dettmann, Solomun & a B2B from Glaswegian duo, Jasper James and Jackmaster. Again, a spread of artists we could hardly split between and honestly one of the major flaws of Friday.
But.. already being in a fantastic spot at the AMP stage and the gargantuas prospect of seeing Solomun deliver a profound two-hour set of dynamism and soulful techno helped make this decision a tiny bit easier. We stayed put and witnessed a resilient and euphoric performance that unquestionably touched the minds and bodies of those around us. A sure fire highlight from the set was him playing out a track that’s been a staple-mark in his recent shows, ‘Choose Life‘ by Alexandros Djkevingr and Greg Ignatovic (we hear a release is coming soon).
We awoke from the madness of Friday albeit with a sore head and if day one’s antics hadn’t been enough the weekend was about to get amped up another level. Our schedule was fully booked for Saturday so we knew it was in our best interests to go and sample some of the wonderful food we’d been promised, courtesy of the Food Makers program. Ultimately, Food Makers, the initiative behind the ‘Going Veggie‘ theme, aims to assist refugees, immigrants and other groups at risk of social exclusion, in turn fostering a realistic way to integrate them into society. On the menu for us was noodles and heura, the latter being a soy protein product that had a similar taste to chicken (highly recommend this!). With energy to release we went and got down to the sonic sounds of HD Substance at the Generator stage. The Veteran established himself quickly and looked at ease when commanding the gathering crowds’ adventurous techno trip. A quick break from the compact Generator stage before Amelie Lens took the reigns led us to the Awareness pool – a ‘ball pit’ full of foam cubes to demonstrate the amount of water that had been saved thanks to the consumption of vegetables instead of meat on the festival grounds.
Awareness pool: Every 100 grams of meat not consumed will save 2250 liters of water, adding to a total of 68,7 million liters throughout the weekend
After plenty of fun in the Awareness pool we were ready to head off into the blistering pace of an Amelie Lens performance. With much hype built up around the Belgian this year we were intrigued to understand why she’d now been dubbed the ‘new queen of techno‘ by so many in the scene. With the beating sun above our heads, Amelie was unleashing dark and challenging techno, the type you’d expect to hear in a dark, dingy Berlin club, much like Tresor. The short but startling journey to the heights of her set was refreshing to see, she opted to build off of the reverberating tone of the drums’ echoing soundscape before quickly continuing into a barrage of outrageous tunes. By these moments the crowd was into a techno-laden frenzy. Much hype indeed but all of which was firmly merited and next year we expect to see Amelie performing a later slot for sure with the talent displayed at this years’ edition. Recent releases from Len’s including her latest on Drumcode, makes it a certainty for her to be finishing off 2017 in style.
Eats Everything was firmly on the agenda for us next and with all four stages almost imposing fiery levels of techno it was a much welcomed switch up. The Bristol man brought his boisterous presence to the decks and had the challenges of a fun but musically-astute crowd to impress. Much like the crowd, Eats elected to go for a diverse choice of tracks from differing sub-genres and with selections like Chris Anderson’s edit of Blubba Boy’s ‘50,000 Watts’ (captured, here) it was easy to see why his strategy of multiplicity was fortunate for him, not to mention the seamless mixes he consistently pulled off during the two hour display. Over at the Frequency stage, an intimate setting on the coastal side of the festival, was a certain Mall Grab who was his usual bundle of energy dishing out a party atmosphere that remained unrivaled by all other artists throughout the weekend. His performance consisted of cold-cut, no nonsense house bangers with throttling bass lines and feel good-riddums such as his own, ‘Pool Party Music‘ which undoubtedly become a hugely celebrated moment.
After a few words with Coyu earlier in the day, The Big Cat was an artist high up on our list to see at DGTL Barcelona for several reasons: he was performing in his home city, his passion shown during his interview prior to the performance and the fact it was his birthday weekend with so many celebrations set to ensue. Coyu looked at ease and composed in front of a home crowd when he carefully tested waters with some melodious house cuts before cranking up the heat with some corpulent basslines and surface-trembling techno – it was at this point we could confirm another winning factor on the side of festival aesthetics – the wonderful light show(s). Seth Troxler playing B2B alongside Paco Osuna shortly followed with the pair electing to play some mind melting beats and an encumbrance of blitzing acid tracks with Charles Fenckler’s ‘Stella Acid‘ being the stand out track from the set.
The closing down of DGTL Barcelona was left to perhaps one of the biggest and most legendary figures in dance music to date, The Wizard.. Mr Jeff Mills. With the festivals stark association with the 130 bpm we felt it was fitting to spend the last few hours appreciating the sounds of the Detroit veteran. The lone-standing figure of Jeff Mills was present at the Generator stage and with no press or guests allowed in the DJ booth it felt like a special moment was being shared with the pioneering artist. Mills knew he had a tough run of acts to compete with; Karenn, Daniel Avery & Amelie Lens had already completed outstanding sets on the stage. But if anybody could do it, it was the Detroit man, who demonstrated his wizardry behind the decks by creating palpable tension with his TR-909 drums, hi-hats and everything else, not to mention the moments of madness from his reconstruction of ‘The Bells‘. We, like everyone else in the capacity crowd knew we were witnessing dance music history – never have we experienced an atmosphere like it and it’s a memory we’ll cherish from DGTL Barcelona for a very long time. Our concluding thoughts on the events of DGTL Barcelona will be kept short and sweet – it’s hard to falter the Spanish version of the Dutch brands’ event series as from an attendee’s perspective everything appeared to run as programmed with access to all stages and necessities being made easy and no issues with sound or artist performances to report. It’d also be impossible to not mention the inclusion of innovative art installations and sustainability programs which unquestionably add a whole new dynamic to the festival experience.
Artists of the weekend