Het Twiske, Amsterdam
25 - 26 May

The Dekmantel organisation needs no introduction at this point but perhaps its smallest festival, Lente Kabinet still does.

The spring celebration comprises two days of music across five stages, along with a programme of art installations and interactive projects in Het Twiske park, just north of the capital. One of those five stages this year, the secret stage, was hosted by Crack Magazine as part of the Crack 100 celebrations. While it has been gradually expanding over the last few years, Lente Kabinet remains a small, intimate affair compared to Dekmantel’s main event in August, and that is precisely what lends the festival its charm.

This year Lente Kabinet put a strong focus on live acts, a curatorial approach that’s reflected across Dekmantel’s upcoming events, and which the organisers are keen to continue implementing for future projects. Amsterdam’s own Mauskovic Dance Band are a perfect fit for this strategy; their compelling and super-tight fusion of vintage disco, South American and West African rhythms subtly tweaked for the dancefloor was an easy highlight. A brilliant live show was also helmed by Neapolitan disco outfit Nu Guinea, who brought yet more charming energy to an unexpectedly sunny Saturday. The weather didn’t hold up quite as well the next day, but the danceable live acts continued with Orlando Julius and the Heliocentrics, and Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 – all of whom performed on the main stage, sandwiched by top-level selectors such as Mendel, Sadar Bahar and Antal.

The Red Light Radio stage, one of the smallest but easily the most distinct, hosted the more raw, experimental sounds out of its iconic repurposed Nissen hut. Cera Khin’s razor sharp drum breaks and rapid tempos made for perfect sunshine listening, and a rare live show from Aussie industrial pop legends Severed Heads drew a strong crowd on day two. The Red Light stage has become famed for its intense closing sets. There was no ghetto house to close proceedings this year; instead, the platform featured something slightly more restrained. Bufiman and Woody ‘92, in their first ever back to back session together, pushed an eerie mix of pitched down trance, murky techno and bursts of rave intensity through a thick wall of smoke. The last few minutes saw crowd members rush the stage, something of a Red Light tradition.

Last but not least, during the downpour of rain, festival-goers dressed in complementary ponchos headed to the dancefloor of the Crack Magazine stage. Proceedings kicked off with Groningen’s rising talent Fafi Abdel Nour followed by a blisteringly fast set from Mairo Nawaz, which saw him drop Thomas Schumacher’s When I Rock. Sunday night presented a five-fold dilemma with Todd Terje, Job Jobse, I-F, Lena Willikens and Lyzza each closing a stage. I-F’s pumping mix of italo and electro was an inevitable success, as was Lyzza’s shuffling Brazilian bass music at the Crack stage. Determined to catch another act, we witnessed Job Jobse bringing his trademark energy to close out the second platform. Thankfully, all three were in close proximity.

It’s sometimes a risk when an intimate festival starts expanding scope in an effort to appeal to more people but, so far, Lente Kabinet has managed a tempered expansion without making many concessions. The line-up remains eclectic, experimental and most importantly, extremely entertaining whilst maintaining a tapped-in crowd. Combine that with a general air of excitement around a long summer ahead and Lente Kabinet remains a key date, setting the benchmark high for a busy summer of music in the Netherlands and beyond.