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Blog Club Review

WiSH Outdoor Festival – Eindhoven, The Netherlands

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As part of our summer adventures across Europe DT ventured to the Netherlands for the eight edition of WiSH Outdoor Festival. They say from humble beginnings come great things and whilst we’re not sure who ‘they’ are and if they had effects filled EDM madness in mind when coining the phrase but we think it applies to WiSH Outdoor’s massive growth over the last few years. Yes, upon arrival on site in Eindhoven, the first thing to stike us was that it was hard to believe that this was an event that had first only attracted 1500 people 8 years ago with some of the worlds most famous DJs gracing the intricately put together stages. And we do mean intricate. Think of a scaled down Tomorrowland and you wouldn’t be far off, which given the scale and cost involved in production of the Belgian giant is high praise indeed.

Now lets talk about my own inherent biases. Full disclosure, I’ve never had much time for EDM either as a genre or a culture but was determined to land in Holland with an open mind, hopeful that the neon clad drop seeking EDM festival goer stereotype was little more than a myth perpetuated by beard stroking techno enthusiasts who’d forgotten that electronic music could actually be fun. So with that in mind lets take a look at WiSH Festival 2014.

Line up

The line up for WiSH needs to be taken within context and as far as assembling a cast of the great and the good from the world of EDM Data Transmission are happy to report, WiSH Outdoor aced this challenge. One look at the line up would tell you that the promoters had gone all out to secure a stellar roster to deliver the goods music wise and despite some muddled programming which led to some unfortunate clashes of big names DJs its impossible to name an act which didn’t rise to the occasion and work the crowd into a drop fuelled frenzy even if the music on offer was as far removed from my own musical tastes as I can imagine. So let’s take a look at the artists on display.

Friday’s opening gambit saw DT alumni MakJ open up proceedings alongside the likes of Firebeatz, R3hab and husky voiced Crunk peddler Lil Jon who dropped in and ‘treated’ the crowd to renditions of all of his hits repackaged as EDM ‘bangerz’. Naturally I was already familiar with chart topping producer Lil Jon who as expected did his best impression of a man playing at a school disco. Obvious mash-ups of recognizable pop hits of yesteryear gave rise to excitement within the crowd as each shoehorned in pop classic as young Dutch men and women received cheering like a giant game of name that tune. Whilst feeling like a buzzcocks music round a mass scale everybody seemed to being having fun as tracks from the likes of Dr. Dre, the Eurythmics and the Red Hot Chili Peppers rang out around the speakers.

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Now from the opening nights events MakJ was the man I was most intrigued to see in the flesh. The reason being that as a former DT Podcast contributor he had supporters within our office who had held him aloft as a shining example of all that was good about EDM and now I’d be checking him out for myself. MakJ is introduced (as is every DJ to play the mainstage) by the type of intense disembodied voice that accompanied movie trailers in the 90s (You know the ones – they start with lines like “In a world without pain…”) and he gets down to business. MakJ is far slicker than the likes of Lil’ Jon and spares us the pop homage’s of many of his predecessors on the decks but still struggles to differentiate his set from many of his EDM contemporaries as his set adheres to the formula the crowd seem to be demanding. Build and break. It would have been nice to see someone inject a bit of subtlety to a set on the mainstage but perhaps I’m missing the point in making this request. This is big brash music and that appears to have been exactly what the good people of Eindhoven had paid to see. With the regular sledging EDM gets within the music media it seems pointless to pour more scorn on the genre. I also hate coriander despite trying it several times. I appreciate many others love it and don’t think any less of them or their taste. For me the same applies to EDM. Live and let live.

Other DJs to light up the main stage with performances enthusiastically greeted by the crowd was meteorically rising youngster Dyro and scene stalwart Chuckie who both finished to rapturous applause. There was some respite for house lovers over at the Duikboot tent wherein the likes of  delectable Dutch duo Detroit Swindle are offering up efforts much more to my liking with DJ Koze’s excellent reimagining of Moderat’s ‘Bad Kingdom’ never sounding so good as following an entire evening of big room sounds. Other highlights were served up at the Wishkunde stage with Egbert’s live show really impressing before inimitable techno don ROD did his thing.

The biggest crowd of the weekend however was reserved for the Netherlands World Cup quarter final match against Costa Rica which was sandwiched in between heavyweight performances from Chuckie and Sander Van Doorn. It would have been churlish of us not to join the Oranje in watching the game and the atmosphere was amazing as the English journalists in attendance finally found out what it was like to win a penalty shoot out. We then rounded the evening off with more house and techno courtesy of De Sluwe Vos back at the Duikboot stage. So all in all a thumbs up on the line up front.

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The Site

Entering the site itself the sheer scale of the assembly on show made itself apparent with several large tents for of the programming; all less than a stones throw away from each other. This without compromising sound quality, (as the was no cross-pollination of sounds across stages) allowed for easy access to catch a variety of sets by different artists across the festival with minimum of fuss and ensured that little time was wasted in transit time traversing the site.

Food and drink wise the bars were predictably crowded as those in attendance sought refuge in cold drinks from the warm weather but the queues moved quickly and there were a wide variety of food outlets on offer to satisfy hungry festival goers. 

Vibe

The vibe of the entire event was overtly EDM focused but as one of Europe’s definitive EDM events anyone heading down shouldn’t have been surprised to see a uniform of brightly coloured snapbacks and vest combinations on the guys in attendance amongst the scantily clad women soaking up the sunshine. Think Venice beach hits Eindhoven. That said the atmosphere as are many of the more commercial dance events was warm, welcoming and friendly as strangers excitedly conversed on whichever stadium filling DJ and producer they were most eager to see in the flesh.

Conclusion

They say time flies when your having fun and before we knew it the weekend was drawing to a close in a fantastic crescendo of style and colour as people prepared to trudge back to normality. So with people leaving the trance like state the festivals light shows and music had induced them into we left the site thinking that if you were into EDM then this had surely been the place to be. We’re even more sure any fans of the genre would be full of anticipation for next year’s return. On this performance a return to Eindhoven would quite simply be unmissable although we’ll be sending a more appropriate member of staff!

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Grahame Farmer

Grahame Farmer’s love affair with electronic music goes back to the mid-90s when he first began to venture into the UK’s beloved rave culture, finding himself interlaced with some of the country’s most seminal club spaces. A trip to dance music’s anointed holy ground of Ibiza in 1997 then cemented his sense of purpose and laid the foundations for what was to come over the next few decades of his marriage to the music industry.

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