Fifth edition of the Dutch DGTL festival at the Parc del Fòrum in Barcelona. The line-up, in fact, wasn’t bringing anything particularly new to the city, beyond a dozen promising talents yet to be discovered by the general audience, but which already aim to be references in the clubbing scene of the future (we highlighted 10 of them in our pre-festival guide).
Friday wasn’t our best festival day ever. It was a feeling shared by many of the almost 15,000 attendees who tried (unsuccessfully) to fill the AMP, Generator, Modular and Frequency stages. Anetha’s -the new figure of the European rave scene- early and devastating set, the preciousness of Satori’s ethnic live, Octo Octa’s mental and enveloping shot (also in live format) and Ylia’s bold selection were some of the few exceptions to be highlighted.
Mentioning all of them was a matter of justice, as it is to mention also Henrik Schwarz’s impressive live performance on Saturday night at the Modular stage and the surprising set by Marco Carola at the AMP -he accelerated the pitch more than normal and moved the audience to sounds of the past with the old-school dance of people like Groove Armada with their “Superstylin” or the minimal techno of M!nus with Marc Houle’s “Porch”-. No less brilliant were the DJ sets by Todd Terje, Bedouin and Acid Pauli at Sunday’s Closing Party, also at the AMP stage. DGTL improved throughout the weekend, but there were 5 names that reached the sky, 5 artists who, at DGTL Barcelona, consolidated themselves as titans of their genres.
5. Barnt & Roman Flügel
One of the incentives of the line-up was the exclusivity of some unions on stage. It was the case of the first b2b2b in the history of the festival with Dubfire, Seth Troxler and Tiga (it happened on Friday at the AMP stage). And it was also the case of Barnt and Roman Flügel’s b2b. Larry Heard put the finishing touch to his concert with Fatima and Paul Cut singing the everlasting “The Sun Can’t Compare” and creating a magical atmosphere among the audience. It was quite a challenge to be at the helm of the Modular stage after that. Barnt and Roman Flügel passed the test with unquestionable success. So much so that it even seemed for seconds that Larry Heard was going to sing an extra track. But no, the sound came from the mixer that these two great diggers shared for 120 minutes to take us from a pure Chicago house to more melodic and deep techno tones. They always maintained a progressive air and opened the door to some rarities, thus eliminating any hint of monotony. Sometimes, brand new b2b’s fail. Other times, they find the right key and become a starting point. Hopefully, we’ll see Barnt and Roman Flügel together again soon. In any case, this memory will last forever.
4. Xosar (live)
Xosar was one of the names marked in red as a must on the itinerary. The US-born and Berlin-based artist reached levels of improvisation never seen before at DGTL. We could hardly perceive classical track structures. It was a totally unpredictable 1-hour live show, in which drones, broken bases, noise pinches and raver and acid synthesizers made the early risers of the Generator stage (it was 6 pm on Saturday) give themselves to the charms of this peculiar and esoteric performer that, if it’s not already, will soon be a fundamental pillar of the ravest sound of the continent.
3. Colin Benders (live)
He never fails. Colin Benders surprised all those who crowded (again at the Generator stage) to see up close the king manipulator of the modular synthesizer. He winked at the audience with his back to him. Or, depending on how you look at it, placing the modular face. What do people want? To see Colin Benders’ face or to see what Colin Benders does with his gadgets? He thought the second thing (we think the same), so he allowed any DGTL assistant to go berserk like him and destroy his slippers based on changing acid techno with hardly any pauses. It was Friday and, after Anetha’s big opening, the stage needed something like that. It needed a revolutionary. And that was Colin Benders.
Something inside us was telling us that Skatebård’s session wasn’t going to be just one more. His was one of the best performances at the reference festival Dekmantel, and his name is already one of the biggest in his native Norway. He was the penultimate to play music at the Frequency stage. Before him, Mr. Scruff. After him, Lil’ Louis. The summary could be “house music”, but Skatebård wanted to give us something else. With jewels like Sunlightsquare’s “Super People” or Pin Up Girls’ “Take Me Away” and his nice staging, he took us on a trip to the golden ages of dance, disco and italo. 2 hours that will be hard to forget.
1. Paula Temple
She got one of the biggest ovations of the weekend. As always, between the live set and the DJ set, Paula Temple dared with practically everything that sounded violent. As if it were the very same demon incarnate, the English artist was accelerating the pitch without restraint, while the tone of the performance was approaching a state of uncontrollable dementia. Each aggregation of elements caused a roar. Every movement in the booth meant screams on the dancefloor. People gave themselves to Paula Temple’s rave, that hard to classify sound that is neither techno, nor acid, nor electro, nor industrial, nor EBM, but all at once. In these times, it’s a unique musical proposal in the world. And DGTL gave it all to her as she gave it all to DGTL.