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10 reasons to get excited about Rampage 2019


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Although right now it feels like the festival season is aeons away, Rampage has decided to kick things off early with its pulsating beats carrying us at breakneck speed into the end of March.

Image credit: Rampage Festival 2019

As uni students, March is a month awash with deadlines as coursework essays, assignments and perhaps even *whispers* dissertations coalesce around its terminus. In semester two things are starting to become real but there’s still that no man’s land between the end of teaching and the advent of exams in which to steal a quick breath. This is precisely where Rampage comes in – the weekend of 29th and 30th March.

But there’s still plenty of time to get hype for the world’s biggest Drum and Bass party and tickets to the Open-Air event in the summer are still available. On the 10th anniversary of Rampage, I’ve compiled a list of 10 reasons I’m looking forward to the festival and perhaps why you should get on the bandwagon too. 

1. The line-up

Rampage 2019’s line-up brings together the best Drum and Bass acts creating music currently. If that’s not a good introduction to the genre then I’m not sure what is. Top of the bill is Andy C, Sub Focus and Wilkinson. Andy C has been at the forefront of Drum and Bass since the style’s inception and is known for playing mammoth sets that have extended past the six-hour mark, as well as introducing techniques such as triple turntable mixing and the ‘double drop’ where he syncs the basslines of two tracks to simultaneously kick in. Sub Focus had major chart success with his 2013 album Torus, which produced hits such as ‘Endorphins’ and ‘Tidal Wave’ and last year saw him make a return after a five-year hiatus with the track ‘Desire’ in collaboration with Dimension. Wilkinson, most famous for the huge ‘Afterglow’ with Becky Hill, completes the triumvirate.

2. The scale

Aside from the quality of the line-up, what’s also impressive is the sheer size of the event. It’s all happening inside the Antwerp Sportpaleis, which, you guessed it, means “Sports Palace” in English. The “palace” holds the claim to fame of being Europe’s largest indoor venue and is now more often used for gigs than track cycling it was originally intended to house. Other than Madison Square Garden in New York it’s also the world’s most visited and it has a maximum capacity of over 23, 000 concert-goers. 

3. The timing

Rampage is happening a good few months before summer – an odd time of year to host a festival one might think – but it’s more than just a party, it’s a showcase of the world’s best dance music. This is going to be the chance for revellers to get a flavour of what could turn into the anthems of this summer in gestation. That and the wonderful dramatic irony of a Brit travelling in the direction of Brussels on 29th March 2019 – wish me luck at passport control, fingers crossed they let me in.

4. The city of Antwerp

Antwerp is Belgium’s most populous city and lies just south of the Dutch border, as a centre of commerce during the Northern European Renaissance it is home to the world’s oldest stock exchange, built in 1583. It also has a rich cultural heritage including the Dutch Masters, Rubens and Van Dyck. As well as attracting the best international talent, the city also supports its native musicians through the recurring Linkerwoofer festival, which features mainly Belgian acts.

Antwerp facade via Wikimedia Commons

5. Its unique appeal

Rampage is unparalleled in the world of drum and bass. Beyond the music, it boasts spectacular light shows and it’s a place of international pilgrimage with people from more than 45 countries attending last year’s event, which featured Pendulum and Flux Pavilion. It’s also sure to be an intense experience with the festival only getting going at 7 pm and running through to 6 am the next morning.

6. The homegrown talent, but in Belgium

It’s remarkable just how many UK DJs make up the line-up here. It’s true, there are a handful of Dutch and Belgian names among those playing, but it seems British acts constitute a majority. Travelling to Antwerp to get a handle on your own native dance music scene might seem an odd way to go about things, but here that’s exactly what’s happening.

7. Drum and bass

I have a confession to make. Prior to Rampage, my exposure to the genre of drum and bass has been largely incidental. Going to the festival will give me the opportunity to fully immerse myself in the art form. The question is, will I be able to maintain scientific objectivity in my observations of the phenomenon or will I be sucked into the vortex. Will anthropological neutrality prevail under tempos in excess of 180 bpm?

8. Curiosity about a purely electronic music festival

It will be interesting to see how a festival dedicated solely to the art of synthesis and production can capture the human element. I know that electronic music is about so much more than just pressing play, but I’m still curious as to how the DJs can make their craft resemble something organic. If the chemistry between musicians isn’t present, then it’s likely audience interaction will play a greater role.

9. The ethic of club music

Music primarily made to be heard in a club is likely to have a different ethic to its pop and rock counterparts. It’s a chance to explore the extremes of sound and to create a literally physical sensation in the bodies of the crowd. Usually, it’s also collective; it’s about feeling the same thing at the same time too. More than bands or vocalists, DJs aim to create something abstract, unnameable and unbound from lyrics. In combination with awesome light shows, they create an experience beyond the setlist.

Image credit: Rampage Festival 2019

10. Discovering the next big act

I already talked about the headliners on the first part of this list, but what I’m also excited about are the acts I don’t know. Rampage’s placement ahead of the traditional festival calendar makes it ideal for the discovery of new talent. Granted, among around 15, 000 other people, the discovery is not like suddenly finding a prodigy in some obscure indie venue’s attic, but still, it’s cool to think of the prospect of hearing the ‘sound of the summer’ before its even started.

Well, there you have it – my 10 reasons to get on the hype train for Rampage. It’s going to be a great chance to experience the best of world-class drum and bass and dubstep all under one roof.

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