It took a couple of years but Rotterdam is once again a city with a high entertainment value. After a long period that included the demise of its dance scene, the city is slowly recovering and developing into the trendsetting force it used to be. A recent development is the return of outdoor festivals. The promising Expedition Festival, another initiative by organiser and club owner Aziz Yagoub, is a perfect example of the restart. On a nice Saturday afternoon House Cult pulled on its shorts and headed to the second edition.
At the end of the ‘90s and the first years of the 21th century, Rotterdam was a booming place for dance music. Stages like Nighttown, Off Corso, and Now&Wow were very successful and set the tone for a new generation of club nights and festivals. The biggest event in the city was known as the Dance Parade, the annual highlight for all party organizations and fans of dance music.
It all changed when riots broke out at the Dance Parade and a free event at the nearby beach of Hoek van Holland. Big outdoor festivals were banned and lots of clubs and organisations had problems with the increase of rules and laws set by the government. The once so admired dance scene of Rotterdam hit the low point in 2010. Just a few years later the cities’ music scene redeveloped itself and as a result the city welcomed some new stages like Bird, Perron, and BAR.
It even got better with the return of a few new outdoor festivals during the summer-period. One of those festivals started last year, when the Revolt organization, a stimulating factor in the local scene, and Innervisions joined forces. They hosted the first Expedition Festival, held at the grass lands of Het Bergse Bos, a nature and recreation park just outside the city of Rotterdam. This year Expedition Festival returned at the same spot and it even got a bit bigger. In 2013 Expedition Festival had 2 stages, this year it doubled it to 4. Big enough for a couple of thousand enthusiastic festival-goers that made their way to the festival site.
At the main stage big names like John Talabot, Fritz Kalkbrenner, and old school techno pioneer Carl Craig made their appearances. More Detroit artist were present at the stage of jazz club Bird. Besides local DJ’s like Jeff Solo and Interstellar Funk, the Bird stage featured Marcellus Pittman and Omar S, both known for their funky solid sound. Another attractive name in the line-up was the upcoming Canadian producer/DJ Kaytranada. The young man from Montreal had a breakthrough year in 2013 when he released a couple of singles and remixes. Especially the remixes of old r&b tracks (for example ‘Be Your Girl’ by Teedra Moses, ‘If’ by Janet Jackson and Missy Elliot’s ‘Sock It 2 Me’) became really popular, just as his performances at a few Boiler Room parties. His opening set proved Kaytranada is a raw talent to keep an eye on.
Speaking of Boiler Room, the successful online platform was also present at Expedition. In collaboration with Clone Records, who took care of the line-up, they held their own small stage next to the main site. Besides a little delay at the start, everything worked out really well. The audience immediately kicked in with the local artist, such as Legowelt and Clone’s frontman Serge.
The fourth stage was hosted by PIP Den Haag. This club has slowly became a popular multifunctional platform in the residential city The Hague. At their Expedition Festival stage PIP welcomed some talented international artist like the Berlin duo Mind Against, American and Berlin based female producer Xoras and the Lithuanian talent Ten Walls, who recently dropped a massive record with ‘Walking with Elephants’.
All together an attractive list of acts and a diversity of styles. When House Cult made their entrance at the festival, the atmosphere was already energetic and the positive vibes continued all day and all night long. A big plus was the excellent sound systems at all stages. Combined with the perfect weather, about 22 degrees with a bit of sun and no rain, great food and lots of happy people it became a great day. We’re already looking forward to upcoming editions and hope festivals like Expedition help Rotterdam to regain its lost status as a dominant factor in dance music.