Countless hours of preparation, a tight deadline and a bold transition into a bigger party. NOX in the Woods will be remembered fondly. How so? There are plenty of reasons. Read on for the full story. (Photo’s by: Momenttom)
Scaling your operation (event) up a notch remains a tricky feat – from cocooning and honing the core product, up until the point the idea becomes a butterfly, and spreads its proverbial wings. Although this probably will result in a view to kill; the risks involved multiply. Welcome to the big game. The organizers of the party expand beyond their former ‘shell’ and now have to tackle bigger, more complex and riskier targets. This transitioning phase is critical because there’s a lot more at stake while covering this somewhat new ground.
NOX succeeds at this, the so-called bread and butter still very much remains. Simply put: the vibe, this time around outdoors, in the woods, once again feels nothing short of stellar. Philips de Jong Park proved to be a very suited location indeed.
Oops, did he just inhale a butterfly?
The décor at the mainstage – imagine a dozen of wooded birds and butterflies (yes!) surrounding the stage – really promoted a dreamy atmosphere, with huge trees encircling the area. Despite the lack of a continuous summer sun, heavy clouds roll by – luckily without rapturing. In case the rain would come, long stretches of planks would provide more than enough support for the gathered partygoers. The main area is also partially covered as well, so props to the organization for making these preparations (just in case).
Covering every set at the festival would be a more balanced and complete approach. For those who expected such a review: apologies. Instead, being in the now, vibing, and bouncing all over the place served as a basis for this story. However, some in-the-moment highlights were covered during the sets.
Koan Sound hasn’t played in Holland in about six years? Yet, the timeless legacy of their tunes still echoes through the scene. The kings of the bad-ass funk return in style, effortlessly going about it and clearly enjoying their presence here. One of duo remains more stoic and a bit more reserved, while the other engages more with the crowd. Recent material is played for the most part, for example, ‘Prison Poles’, but there’s plenty of room for new, unreleased material.
Their productions remain second to none. Sheer joy erupts all-around at every next drop of the beat. The set gradually becomes more intense, greeted with even more cheering and happy feet. At the very end, the quiet one briefly takes his turn in the limelight while saying goodbye. His partner thoughtfully steps back.
Time for the next don: UrbanDawn. Perhaps not such a rare sight as the previous duo, given his recent booking at Liquicity Festival, but his skills behind the decks are nothing short of exotic. ‘Sleeping Awake’, one of his biggest hits, truly nails it in the middle of this blissful scenery. His ties with Hospital Records and fellow-Brazilian S.P.Y are clearly present. The ‘We Got It’ remix (Metrik) done by S.P.Y is well received by the gathered crowd.
The atmosphere takes a darker turn: a ‘Dead Limit’ remix from Noisia (double drop?) surgically cuts through the synchronized rows of bone and marrow in front of the stage. The Brazilian keeps everyone guessing by constantly teasing with a recognizable intro, only to follow up with an even more intense version or something totally different.
His finesse especially stands out because of the transitions in between the tracks: the energy remains high, while the vibe shifts (melo)dramatically. An intense rollercoaster of emotions is the result, pushing the dancefloor into a frenzy. Meanwhile, London Electricity joins on the stage to eagerly film the gathered fans. Perhaps this isn’t the biggest festival he’s played, but such enthusiasm does work contagiously. It’s worth to mention the support by MC Degs. A natural behind the mic with impeccable timing, he really makes an effort by connecting with the fans through acknowledging their glances and light-hearted goofing.
Being salty about details wouldn’t do this lovely event any justice. Still, as a journalist, it’s essential to weigh all the factors involved. The keen eye can’t help to notice that the bar personnel wasn’t working very efficiently. Why? It felt a bit off when seeing how they went about their work, this led to asking one of them about their employer. Can’t blame these students for working as subcontractors and lacking the experience, but a tad more training and, perhaps, supervision by their boss at the location would’ve surely improve their capability. Most of the time it went well enough. Alas.
A change of scenery
Soldiering on into the farther region of the terrain: underneath the canopy of the densely packed trees, the second area, although less jump up oriented, proved to be a cosy and soulful occasion. While the stage is smaller, the experience, partially because of a narrower dancefloor section, is all the more intimate. Upon arrival, Lenzman is in the final stages of his set. He too precisely manages the energy while transitioning in between tunes, albeit his signature sound is a bit more focused on breakbeat and jungle. Another one of the renown DnB-heads from Holland follows up. Nymfo takes his time to set a bit different vibe, all the while nodding and tapping along with the beat.
Love went down
In between the numerous entertaining talks with complete strangers – a lovely crowd indeed – it’s hard not to go bonkers when Doctor P hits the decks at the mainstage. Calling him Doctor B might be more appropriate, the Frenchman now rocks a humongous beard! Cheers to the half-ass attempt to start a mosh pit when he’s dropping his collab with Method Man. Tetris anyone? Timeless. Just as much, as his monster-remix of Plan B’s ‘Love Goes Down’.
Before long, the night is nearing a conclusion. Deck-demon Madster once again proves why he’s one of the finest DnB DJ’s in the region, even Holland perhaps. Arms in crossed posture, wielding both decks, he skilfully controls the crowd and musters up a formidable last attempt to squeeze out the remaining energy from the visitors. ‘Mundian To Bach Ke’ by Panjabi MC, DnB remix, kicks off the set, followed by a dubplate of Camo & Krooked & from Mefjus and a ‘Voodoo People’ remix. He would’ve easily been able to close the mainstage with this set, the pace and selection are neatly packed and inviting.
He concludes this memorable day in collaboration with Twan Koning (the founder of NOX) under the guise of ‘Alora’. This tune will be released on RAM Records somewhere later this year. I’m looking forward to hear a lot more from these two in the near future!
Speaking of, it would be fitting for Twan to have the last word. Here’s what he thought of this edition:
Could you tell more about the preparations involved and the biggest challenges in scaling to something like this? And what are you most proud of?
Twan: Tough question. I think the biggest challenge was the fact that we had a pretty late go on the whole festival. The idea of producing a festival had been around for quite some time, but getting the right location, permits and a proper date was really hard. The chance to get on this spot, on this date came in like March, meaning I had 5 months to finish the job. A lot of extra hours were put into this as soon as we had the go, making sure that at least the bookings were rounded up as soon as possible so that we could announce the artists. After that, all other things came to play; from crew to internals and from catering to all activities on the terrain. I personally think the whole picture looked sick – and that’s certainly what I’d be most proud of.
Reflecting upon the whole result: what comes to mind when looking back?
Twan: The feedback I had the most from all the people around me (both friends and crew) was the fact that everything was sorted really smoothly. We had hands-on all decks, meaning no shortages on any point (except maybe some minor details which we learned from). That being said, having done this as a first-time yeah..
What’s your most memorable/cherished moment from last Friday?
Twan: Damn! Our crew-manager Lalo actually asked me this yesterday as well. I really didn’t know what answer feels correct. I think one of the things I enjoyed most was that both my mum and dad came to visit me, and for example, when DC Breaks & Loadstar played, my mum actually danced a little with me on the deck at the mainstage. Yeah, I will surely cherish this forever.