If you’re a serious fan of drum n bass music events, then you should be aware that November brings the British dnb invasion of HOLLAND where literally thousands of ravers from all over the world
descend upon the streets of Amsterdam for 3 nights of DRUM ‘N’ BASS mayhem, brought to you by highly successful long term event organiser, INNOVATION.
The MELKWEG is the event hosting both the Friday and a Sunday events. It is one of the DAMs most famous music venues boosting two stages/rooms and a capacity just shy of 2,000. It’s in a central location of the city next to lots of quality restaurants and cafes, most importantly the largest is THE BULL DOG cafés, which works closely with Innovation to become a welcoming day time meeting place to eat, drink, and of course smoke! Outside at this time of year, is the annual Christmas market with enough stalls to guarantee any sugar cravings that are satisfied, and if you’re are still spatially aware, with enough energy, there’s an outdoor ice rink.
Jonathan Owen (Jonathan Owen event photography – www.jonathan-owen.co.uk) capturing the three nights of action once again, spoke exclusively to us regarding his experiences at this
year’s event; “Inno in the Dam is in a league of it’s own when it comes to the larger international events, it’s setting in Amsterdam moves it apart from the summer party breaks the majority are
Aside from the obvious attractions in Amsterdam it catches the build up to Christmas and the start of winter so the streets are busy… It has a different vibe from your average raving holiday and combined with 3 days of dnb it’s a unique event for everyone’s calendar.”
The scale of the event was originally known mostly for the array of Jump up DJs, once again IITD gave the ravers a value for their money with an incredible display of talent right from the drop-off. Friday boosted the likes of long time Playaz Hazard, Phantasy and Brockie as well as relatively new favourites on the scene, such as Modified Motion and Guv. People were already talking about weekend highlights with the event only just underway! Attending for her second year, Chelsea Mills from High Wycombe ,UK, said immediately “Highlights Friday night, Hazard and Harry Shotta then MistaJam and Skibadee!… I was so thirsty but just couldn’t leave.”
Hlighted by massive production value across both venues and all stages. It delivered the full package, consisting of lasers, brightly coloured rotating gobo lights, fizzling monitors, paper cannons and smoke machines all contributed a visual feast, an effort that didn’t go unnoticed by Shabba D MC; “Think I’ve missed one event out there, every time I go Dam it gets better for me. Big respect to the Innovation team, always a pleasure to perform for those guys, the ravers, always on point with production. It’s a bit different to other abroad events as I always feel at home, but still abroad .. So big up all crew!”
Darkside MC off the London free party rave circuit also noted “Amazing production from
Innovation! However that’s what Innovation has made us come to expect now.” He adds, “New
talent given more time in the main room on Sunday was nice.”
An example of such new talent, at least as headliners is Alpha, hailing from Birmingham UK, one of the hot topics of conversation after three massively successful sets at the summer INNOVATION event at lloret de Mar, Spain. Mixing for years, he had only relatively recently burst to the forefront of Jump up Drum ‘n’ Bass line ups with the likes of Jayline and Macky Gee. After a boat party set, club set and jumping into the wave pool after his water park set, fans felt he had really left his mark in the summer. On top of this he embodies all the personality traits ravers have come to appreciate, devoid of arrogance or elitism. When we gave him this feedback from the ravers, he told us,
“ Without you guys there is no us, so i respect everyone for liking what i’m trying to do and i speak to everyone.”
Back at Melkweg on the Sunday I saw many tired and stoned, but of course in high spirits, anticipating another epic Jump Up lineup that included Shadow Demon Coalition (Sly Bassman and Trigga) and Harry Bizzle, always a fans favorites. But it was three hours of Alpha with Co’D, Jayline and Sweetpea, and Nicky Blackmarket with the very much in demand Evil B, that set the place ablaze and made the cobwebs around the legs a mere memory. John Mason, Norwich UK, agreed
“Sunday was pure filth”
When we say all tastes are catered for, there is no understatement. Room two over all nights showcased legends from the jungle scene, such as the Ragga Twins, Kenny Ken and Randall. This again shows their can be no shortage of credit given to the Innovation team for covering all sub genres of the DnB scene.
The second night has seen a number of alternative venues introduced, all superclubs in their own right. Way back when the organisers bought the event to the city, what was then the
biggest sailing nightclub, was used to host the event. More recently the THE SANDS has played host to the Saturday event. A large open club on the outskirts of the city. This year however, the club was undergoing alterations and so saw the introduction of dnb at the NORTH SEA VENUE. While travel time was considerable, it too is suitable epic location, a warehouse with a whopping 3,500 capacity. Speaking again from a professional viewpoint J Owen adds; “I’ve been covering Dam for 5 years now. This year was yet another evolution for Innovation in the Dam as it shifted to a new venue merging club and warehouse style venues at the North Sea Venue. The music was amazing as always,and the stage production had stepped up a notch.. which looked excellent even if it did nearly kill me (it was tight on stage) a few times!”
While all nights have a range across all sub genres of drum n bass, the second night this year showcases talent such Mampi Swift, TC and Delta Heavy, playing darker techy mixes and combining liquid drum n bass into the mixes. Subzero also playing the NSV was clearly having a good time, soaking up the atmosphere, he tells us; “ It’s was my third year in a row doing innovation in the dam…Such a cool city that It really gives a great setting the event! The club itself is totally crazy, it’s been done out with loads of mad decor which really adds to the atmosphere of the night ! The vibes as far as Djing goes were absolutely electric! A huge crowd in there, but still feel very connected to them, people singing back to tunes and hands in the air, everything you hope to have at a massive rave! I think everyone is just really up for a great time there and it shows. Can’t wait to play there again next year.”Speaking after this year’s event Nicky Blackmarket agrees;
“It’s great to see the mixture of people is just as good as all the others!”
The central Bull Dog cafe offers a pre-party warm up on the Thursday night as well as a live podcast broadcast before Sundays event. There are still top Top Djs playing usually Inno residents like Ollie and Phantasy… and hosted by Skibadee himself. Its a great opportunity for ravers to meet the artists themselves, relax with them in a non working environment with a pint and perhaps a spliff. The Event works closely with another small bar called the Winston
They do a Monday night event called Cheeky Monday which plays Drum ‘n’ Bass on the weekly. In fact the organizers claim it to be unofficially Europe’s longest running weekly dnb night. It has been consistently playing our music for years and is great for the scene. So do go and show support, as its a fun night with more friendly, good vibes and very reasonably priced drinks, unlike most bars in the city.
Amsterdam, of course is perhaps one of the most unique European city’s one could hold a dance music event, combining areas rich with beauty and culture with comparatively lax laws on drugs and prostitution and bustling night life! Some might argue these legal cannabis smoking and sex trade is part of that very culture… “when in Amsterdam… ” one might say!
There plenty to do for a history or culture vulture. Ears a-ringing, if not missing, you might remember you are in the homeland of Vincent Van Gogh, hit up the museum dedicated entirely to him and his renown paintings. Not many tunes played this weekend will have left you wanting to remove your own ears. Stories do not come much darker than that of Anne Frank. Although quite simple, you can visit the very setting for her diary entries during the second World War under Nazi occupation. Lighter entertainment includes the Zoo, housing most animals, although cold, was a pleasant excursion this year. You might like to take a smoke before your arrival or if you’re really brave enjoy some the city’s legal magic mushrooms. Stay clear of the Unicorn enclosure at this point. One of the best things in Amsterdam is the perfect tasting Heineken, you can visit the museum, personalize your own glass, and experience what its like to be ‘brewed’ while topping up on free half pints. The are two sex museums and a cannabis museum too, where you can be educated in olden days debauchary or growing the top crops.
The red light district is a site for sore eyes, lit up its nearly as aesthetically pleasing as the woman it showcases. Men; enter these maze of streets with strong resolve to abstinence or perhaps take a girlfriend for window shopping… that or fat wallet. The sex shows can provide many memorable and funny memories to take home from the weekend.
Cannabis and coffee shops can be found across multiple squares or in the maze of streets as you would expect. No shop is more popular than Grey Area. Ask most people in the Dam who know their stuff and they will direct you here. When I asked one of the employees monitoring the queue (stretching well into the street) what the secret was, he replied simply;
“The best farmers and growers, who know how to treat their plants, choose to supply here.” while the cost is now more, you are unlikely to be disappointed.
One should also remember when in Amsterdam just don’t… Namely forget warm items of clothing. November is just as cold, often colder than the UK at this time of year, it’s even been known to snow heavily, making it pleasing but also a bit cold. Taxis to all part of the city will soon become your best friend unless you come fully equipped with hats gloves a decent winter jacket. All over the city the family of Innovation ravers our instantly recognizable in large groups sporting a range of designer sports wear and innovation merchandise.
Blackmarket further adds; “It’s very unique event that has everyone from England and all over Europe attending, it’s great to see everyone enjoying themselves, no trouble…”
Writing after the event Raffa Volker from Germany said;
“Once again innovation smashed it with another in the Dam weekender, as usual. It was great to see old faces and as well new ones to get familiar with. Everyone was in a good mood and the artists were top as ever. Big up to Lloyd and the crew for setting up one of the best parties of the year.
I haven’t had so many laughs the past months than during this weekend. Definitely will be back next year for the big anniversary, the magic 10. Salute to all Junglists who made this weekend unforgettable!”
We actually found Raves attending their second event from as far as Toronto Canada, proving once again the love for the genre is in fact worldwide and not just in Europe.
There are also hundreds of places to eat out, whether it be the more traditional pancakes with delicious hot chocolate or full on all you can eat Chinese, or top end steakhouses, your desires can be catered for. Everyone makes the mistake of going for the Mcdonald’s breakfast or the fast food joint burgers, but honestly the quality is not that of the UK. Soggy mayonnaise overkill on burgers, tiny limp undercooked continental bacon, is not the one. You’re on holiday, live a little, eat somewhere nice, somewhere local.
Dj Phantasy is one of the artists who works closely with Lloyd, owner of Innovation. We were unable to get a comment from Ollie himself but Phantasy is now very much part of the team alongside the likes of Dj Ollie running the event. He has years of experience and is known for mixing across all sub genres of dnb and on the rare occasion mixing grime, Bassline, Dubstep and even Hardocre when performing for the Harry Shotta show. On his third year mixing and working with the Innovation Phantasy chose to speak more about the love for the music and its growing popularity. Referring to recent multi-genre sound clash music event he said
“Everything anywhere that celebrate the sounds of dnb is good in my books. This music has so much energy that even artists from other genres play it. That says it all.
Look at the Soundclash… Rodigan & Shy Fx played dnb tunes that got the biggest reactions of the whole clash. That speak volumes for this beautiful genre”
“It’s always been enjoyable, at times it can be quite stressful and challenging in terms of keeping a technical head on while the rave is blowing up around me but I’ve always enjoyed a challenge. I tend to see my regular jobs as a landmark in terms of looking back at my work and seeing how it has evolved, Innovation in the Sun is a brilliant benchmark with it’s mix of events over the week.. not to mention environmental challenges, humidity, heat, sand, drunk ravers, lasers, sea, swimming pools.. I could go on! I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again for Innovation’s Spring Break in 2015, we should probably attempt a staff photo again this year!”
Finally we should mention the Dutch people themselves. It is here we find some of the warmest most helpful of people, always giving you a smile, willing to talk, or help you find your way around, and this has been consistent over 9 visits. Most remarkably they speak better English than most of us. So for one more one more winter we say goodbye to the beautiful city. With the Spring event only months into the new year it will give the ravers two opportunities to experience drum ‘n’ bass raving in Amsterdam. Once again we say thank you Innovation, because once again its it been a truly memorable experience.
Words by: Michael Eedle
Photos by : http://www.jonathan-owen.co.uk/