And now, for some techno! CLR showcase, Amsterdam Dance Event

Want to be on the same page and lis­ten to what I’m lis­ten­ing to as I write this? Click here.

The rea­son I came to Ams­ter­dam this time around was for Ams­ter­dam Dance Event, now the largest elec­tronic music con­fer­ence in the world, and with good rea­son. It’s not just a fes­ti­val, it’s not just a col­lec­tion of shows all over the city — the event is five days filled with sem­i­nars with music indus­try lead­ers and trend­set­ters, pro­grams for uni­ver­sity stu­dents who want a legit­i­mate career in the music busi­ness, movie screen­ings, cul­tural events, DJ cook offs, pop-up DJ sets. It’s entirely pos­si­ble to skip all of that and just rave your face off for five days straight over every sin­gle genre of elec­tronic music available.

I was for­tu­nate enough to be invited by Claire Van Der Hall to one of the pan­els she was host­ing dur­ing the day, which also hap­pened to be the only one that was in Eng­lish, held in this giant cube in the mid­dle of Leidseplein.

James Minor of SXSW was sup­posed to be dis­cussing… some­thing, but it seemed like he didn’t really have much to dis­cuss, despite Claire’s best efforts to get use­ful infor­ma­tion out of him. To be fair, SXSW and ADE and other elec­tronic music fes­ti­vals are dif­fer­ent ani­mals entirely, so his basic sug­ges­tion of “work hard, don’t be a dick” was use­ful, just not enough to fill up 50 minutes.

You know who always shows up, works hard and is not a dick*? Chris Liebing.

My first dose of the techno at ADE came from the CLR show­case at Under­cur­rent, which I think was like a house boat on the bay. First off, that place was hot. And sweaty. Like, so sweaty, you could squeegee other people’s sweat from your body and still be soaked. No amount of nitro­gen blasts in the mid­dle of the dance floor was cool­ing that place down. But it was a big space, with two rooms, fea­tur­ing mem­bers of Liebing’s label, includ­ing Tom­my­Four­Se­ven (so pretty), DJ Emer­son and Brian San­haji.

Now what I really came there for was to hear Sanaji play live, as I’d been obsessed with his sets that I’d heard from the weekly CLR pod­casts that Liebing releases every Mon­day. (I only acknowl­edge what day it is when I hear Chris Liebing say “It’s Mon­day!” at the begin­ning of each podcast).

I liked the dark, dri­ving beats that San­haji deliv­ered on his pod­casts, usu­ally from other live sets, since he doesn’t spin other people’s music, but does live PAs instead. And since San­haji so rarely comes to the U.S. (never mind him ever step­ping foot in a DJ booth in Vegas), I was super excited to see him. While the expe­ri­ence was great, I think I was a vic­tim of my own hype, build­ing up expec­ta­tions for him that there was really no way he could deliver what I imag­ined in my head. Click here for his set, have a lis­ten for yourself.

What I didn’t expect, how­ever was DJ Emer­son, whose hyp­notic set kept me cap­tive in the sec­ond, smaller, darker room despite the over­whelm­ing heat. I can’t seem to track down his set from that night, but if you’d like a taste of his style, have a lis­ten to his set from the CLR stu­dio ses­sions ear­lier in the week.

Finally, there’s Chris Liebing, whose set I posted at the top of this so you could be some­where in my head while I write this. This has been my year of Liebing. I couldn’t go any­where with­out see­ing Chris Liebing this year, he seemed to play every sin­gle fes­ti­val and techno venue there was to play in 2012. Under­cur­rent marks the fifth time this year I got to watch his mani­a­cal grin as he nods his head to the beats he unleashes. Every time I’ve seen him he’s been fresh and new and unre­lent­ing and look­ing like he’s hav­ing the time of his life. There’s never a fear that he is up there idly press­ing play or phon­ing it in or play­ing any­thing remotely near the last set he did.

Because he shows up, works hard and isn’t a dick*.

*hope­fully, I don’t know this for a fact (yet)

Chris Liebing set and photo cour­tesy of

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