Is there a better techno festival in the world right now than Awakenings? Obviously we can’t say for sure, but there’s little doubting that this Dutch extravaganza is somewhere near the top of the tree. Much of that is down to the crowd and the setting, but the central ingredient - the music - is always spot on too. When DJs rock up at Awakenings, it seems as if they’re compelled to go that one step deeper, that one step funkier or that one step groovier. Put simply, this isn’t the kind of place where shrinking musical violets are in any way appreciated.
The latest edition took place over two days on the 27 and 28th June. Featuring a frankly whopping 100+ artists and a similarly astounding eight areas, the scale of the whole place is the first thing to really take your breath away. The Dutch, of course, know full well how to party and so none of this, though welcome, comes as a real surprise. This year was the 15th anniversary of Awakenings, and as you might expect they went to some lengths to blow the candles out in style. The festival atmosphere was evident from the offset and cliches aside, this really was a party that had it all.
The auspicious weather only added to the good-time vibes, and the blue lakes only helped to compound the sense that we were in for something very special indeed. The cosmopolitan and musically educated crowd played their part too, and we engaged in techno banter aplenty throughout the course of the weekend. As we said, the Dutch most definitely do know their shit when it comes to 4/4. Nowhere was this more evident than during Joris Voorn’s set. Voorn has become something of a legend in his home country in recent years, and his set was a fitting reminder of why he’s so loved both at home and around the globe, taking his own Joris Voorn & Friends stage to another level.
Next up on the main stage was Sven Vath - a man whose sound is tailor-made for the big occasions. And as you might expect, Vath delivered with trademark gusto, keeping the crowd enthralled thanks to a stirring and hypnotic set that even made way for some Cocoon classics. Elsewhere, Len Faki’s punishing techno workout was similarly well-received, as was Richie Hawtin’s - another man, incidentally, who’s well used to bringing his A-game in such situations.
As we expected, Day Two didn’t let up one iota. There was another Cocoon legend on show and Ricardo Villalobos’s set was one of the weekend’s highlights. You can never be sure what you’ll get from the Chilean, but he was definitely in splendid form, toying with the crowd with lashings of percussive tracks, Latin flavours and house classics. There is more to Awakenings than just the main areas though. The Electric Deluxe area was one such example, and featured top class music from Rodhad, AnD and Shifted to name but a few. Although it was relentless at times, for purist techno fans it was a delight that lasted for hours on end. We were certainly impressed anyway. Here’s to another 15, eh?