Aligned the 11 hours bus ride from London and quickly dumped our bags in Utrecht, we tirelessly geared and headed to Halfweg, the infamous park where Awakenings transformed roughly 100.000 square-foot of land into a techno-haven for 70.000 revellers over the weekend.
Entering the south entrance, I was met by the familiar trance of drums inside Area X, Drumcode day-1 was hosted in the metal dome and conditioned B.Traits to building a solid foundation; however, what’s setting Awakenings aside from other festivals was definitely 130-140 bpm opening sets across all areas, it’s an effortless crowd setting pace that never have I witnessed in the UK scene.
Glaring across the field, the Dutch were already in stomping mode; their limbs mechanically extract and retract at unimaginable speed along the tweaking of low-amp snares that Monika Kruse oscillated. It’s somewhat registered as an iconic Dutch moment for me personally. Overwhelmed with this introduction, we seek out to other areas as it’s very rare to see Sven Vath, Joris Voorn, & Pan-Pot to complete in the same line-up, there was no time to be wasted, we headed straight to Area V, an outdoor stage secluded and surrounded with pine trees at the north side … Hurdled past the glooming flocks of “on-edge” revellers, it seem that Tale of Us never failed to recruit one of the most attractive crowd in the techno world, their latest Patrice Baumel release “Glutes” on Afterlife is catapulting the content of Area B into incandescence, how was it possible to avoid the temptation…
Stages here can be seen from a roundabout info kiosk at both side of north and south, the commute time was merely 3-4 minutes apart, except if you were really “enjoying” the scenery. Piling our tokens for a one-stop refreshment, as FOMO is rushing through our tingly feet, fortunately the bars were fully staffed and stocked, of comparable as LWE’s superbly efficient Junction 2..Hallelujah ! Drinks ETA is so important these days.
Ducking into Area V, there was already sea of human bobby pins tilting under their Dutch maestro instruction; Joris Voorn melodic lays the ground assuredly. Nothing really excites this Londoner more than to witness people smashed into smithereens left and right alongside in this techno battle. Just as we were about to cool down, that known-too-well dribbling keys of his infamous record “Ringo”, sneakily dropped; we exhaled and nodded contentedly that it’d be long till we exited this infinity Cocoon.
Awakenings deserves every sense of being the “highlight of Europe’s techno music calendar.” Top of the game production, a diverse myriad of Techno legends and of course one of the most dedicated music driven crowd.
Day 1 was quickly coming to an end as Pan-Pot duo spilling bass & mind-bending synths from their triangle arches deck:
“The rhythm, the rhythm, the rhythm is our power section
As we dance to a beat that seems out of time
To the one you feel in the metronome of your mind
Does it offend you that our rhythm looks strange
Or causes you thinking to be re-arranged
Could it be that you would understand those beat to which we dance
More clearly had you been given the chance
So as you struggle to find the feel with your feet”
So ask yourself, can you dance to my beat?”
Day 2 commenced as early as 9 A.M, we were amped ready for another day of techno savagery.
Venturing outside the comfort zone, we followed our Dutch friends to the hard techno scene of Area X, Blawan was already in complete control. It was eye-opening, horizon-expanding and guilt contemplating all together, how did I not ever come in contact with this UK phenomenon? Missiles launching as Floorplan insectile synth marked a percussive drop, our vision and muscles glitched.
It was hard to detach from our group, but we have planned to dedicate 2 full hours to our personal favourite: Tale of Us. Coincidentally, it was Area V again, we hiked straight to the front, and at this point, there was no sort of basic body requirements would hinder us moving from this spot. Tranced to the duo’s symbolically melodic bass, we glanced down to our fellow revellers, a unified stance across the field: synchronised two-steps, head tilted upwards, all were lost in music translation … “Thorn” by Recondite lingered in, we carried on with the hypnosis. Somehow we managed to get
BUTCH associated his crowds with nothing but a total revamp this time, the German-born successor set aside his usual goof and funk, to deliver a pure techno closing set in Area A tent, a true Awakenings worthy. Not until the hurling raindrops doused our faces, we realised what a smooth transition that Joseph Capriati had input; his hectic and relentless dark groove is unmistakable, none other could replicate a trance that resonates as much Drumcode as this Napoli king, a real original!
Grasping somewhat of a reality, we were drafted to the right front of the Area V stage, our visual horizon consisted of 50 feet of metal laser-infused infrastructure facing against armies of zombie-like ravers embraced in the chaotic atmosphere of rain, smoke, thundering light and Rocco Veenboer emceeing.
It was absolutely everything that I fantasised of an Awakenings closing set … so extra!
The festival brought us to utter finishedness, we dreaded the way home but at least there would be Be-At-TV live streams to catch up on: lekker!
Photo Credit: Mo Barends