Open Source Festival

Various Venues

Open Source festival explores the vibrant relationship between Düsseldorf’s art and music scenes.

The venue, a repurposed horse-racing track, was glittered with unimposing artwork from Kunstakademie, the city’s art academy. As you cruised around the festival, a picturesque setting where crowds can be found lounging, enjoying good coffee and supporting local artists, the artworks would reveal themselves in modest corners of the site. Unimposing but very much essential to the atmosphere, it was reflective of the city’s significant artistic legacy.

The same can be said for the first night’s venue, the Salon Des Amateurs. The bar-turned-club is housed in the brutalist Kunsthalle exhibition hall, the heart of Düsseldorf’s creative community where the time_based_academy held exploratory lectures, performance art and musicians throughout the day. The club’s cult reputation is expanding in the wake of the success of residents such as Lena Willikens and Wölf Muller, yet its electric energy relays the rich history within its walls. Notorious for its lovably chaotic atmosphere and strictly-leftfield music policy, the Salon celebrates dance music rarely heard on dancefloors. This classy anarchy was fulfilled by Laurel Halo, who opened proceedings on Friday with a heady set of house oddities like Jack J’s insatiable Thirstin, followed by an extended excursion into Drexicyan electro. Organic Music boss Chee Shimizu sustained the leftfield approach, soundtracking the moment where night turned to day with a selection of offbeat psychedelic cuts alongside Salon resident Vladimir Ivkovic.

The main event was a slightly more reserved affair. The main stage made great use of the space, with the largest crowd of the day enjoying a euphoric Metronomy set from the rafters and surrounding greenery. The container-like Young Talent stage also drew plenty of interest, and though the acts had each won a talent competition to be there, it drew considerable crowds throughout the day, with the electronic soul of Ray Novacane a personal favourite.

Meanwhile, the Carhartt stage satisfied with music from the periphery. The thrilling live incarnation of Mark Ernestus’ Ndagga Rhythm Force saw the techno innovator on sound duties as the Senegalese outfit performed two hours of their prolific work, piecing fluttering drums, slick dub production and expressive vocals together with electric energy. Revered Salon resident Tolouse Low Trax looked sharp as he played a seductive selection of oddball records, while Laurel Halo amped up the intensity with her live set of driving, warping dub techno.


Future Brown also brought plenty of energy, with Prince Rapid’s MCing fulfilling their amalgamation of classic and forward thinking strands of grime. Rounding off proceedings with Mark Ernestus felt similarly fitting. As the dub techno godfather mined his classic sound, Ndagga vocalists joined in haphazardly, creating a familial feeling that encompassed both the festival’s inclusive atmosphere and its ethos: refracting rich musical heritage through a fresh attitude.

The night carried on into the famous Kunstakademie, where J Cush, Daniel Pineda of Nguzunguzu and Prince Rapid spliced grime, garage and dancehall with their own productions. Their hour slot turned in to what felt like three or four in the subterranean depths of the grand setting. As we were told by one of the students, the academy is used sporadically for events like this in order to “avoid exclusivity” and open it up to the public. Mirroring the approach of the art students who occupied the Kunsthalle space as soon as it was built in 1968, the event was symptomatic of the weekend’s refreshing eco-system of support for creativity: embracing innovation across all fields.