Tuinen van West, Amsterdam

Turning five is no small feat for a festival. In a crowded market, it’s a birthday that serves as an affirmation of relevance and staying power. Earlier this month, Amsterdam’s ZeeZout Festival marked the milestone by taking it’s biggest risk to date; relocating to a new location.

ZeeZout’s new site of Tuinen van West, just west of Amsterdam and reachable by bike or shuttle bus, is set on low rolling artificial green hills. Oddly, the festival’s old site also featured small hills, something usually unheard of on Dutch soil. The similarities with the old Blijburg site ended there though; ZeeZout’s new home sprawled out and comprised five stages catering to different avenues of forward-facing dance music.

One of the key ingredients to ZeeZout’s enduring success is the fact it occupies a singular lane in the Amsterdam party scene; both intimate and internationally-minded. In one sense a relatively small and homespun affair, the curation and execution of the festival put it in the same conversations as the city’s other big hitters.

While the main stage hosted the likes of Tom Trago, KiNK and Mall Grab, each of whom delivered crowd-pleasing moments and high-energy sets, it was the action on the remaining four stages that proved ZeeZout has an intricate understanding of both the local scene and dance music at large. The Depot stage catered to darker, heavier tastes with a live set from Karenn and a thundering closer from Berghain resident Kobosil. Meanwhile, in the opposite corner to Crack Magazine’s stage, you could find the Discotheque where Max Abysmal delivered his trademark low tempo, high energy rhythms followed by Hunee who, mirroring the weather throughout the day, shuffled between sunny disco singalongs and a peppering of moodier cuts.

Crack’s stage kicked off with an extremely high energy set from rising star Ki/Ki, drawing in the early heads for some rapid-fire rave tracks before Woody ‘92 and Spekki Webu delivered a three hour back-to-back session of sedated trance and other tripped-out psychedelic rumblings. Next came the two standouts of the evening, California’s Avalon Emerson deftly juggling loops across four decks, followed by the evening’s closer, DJ Stingray, who fired through a box of blisteringly fast electro with hints of trap marking a break from the otherwise dance-focused sounds of the festival. The Detroit selector displaying effortless technique while airing a collection of enviable rarities was a joy to witness, and the crowd let him know. 

For it’s fifth outing ZeeZout Festival started a new chapter. Taking to a new location with ease and cementing a reputation for delivering high-quality DJs on high-quality stages with an unassuming charm. Here’s to the next five years.