Set amid the lush greenery of Germany’s sleepy Neustadt-Glewe area, over an hour’s drive from the next neighbouring City of note (in this case, Hamburg), AirBeat One festival has rapidly risen through the ranks in recent years as a major player on the events circuit – and on the basis of this year’s gigantic party – it’s easy to see why!
Packing a truly stellar billing onto the mainstage for the 2019 edition of AirBeat One, DJ Mag’s #1 DJ in the world Martin Garrix was joined by an all-star ensemble which also included trance God Armin van Buuren, Tomorrowland juggernauts Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, US duo The Chainsmokers (recently named as the highest paid DJs of the past 12 months), and Swedish House Mafia royalty Sebastian Ingrosso, who arrived in Germany alongside a very special friend (more on that later!).
For the first time attendee to AirBeat One, the immediate thought process – hard to ignore – is centred on the sheer size of the venue. Boasting a main area similar to legendary UK venue, the National Bowl in Milton Keynes, a gigantic hoard of green grass – later turned to muddy slush by bouncing ravers – is pierced by this year’s stunning Taj Mahal inspired mainstage design, an ode to a constantly revolving theme which year spun towards India following 2017’s ‘Rome’ inspired festival and 2018’s ‘London’ effort.
With a special warm up evening taking place on Wednesday, Thursday saw Heldeep boss Oliver Heldens spin the crowd into a house-focused frenzy as he blitzed through a selection of both his own hits such as ‘Koala’ and ‘Gecko’, as well as new Chocolate Puma collaboration ‘LazersX999’ from his HI-LO alias. With Afrojack unable to make his scheduled slot, the day was salvaged by Hexagonian Don Diablo, who saved the best for last by ending his set with a beautifully touching tribute to Avicii. With the AirBeat One mainstage closed out by the safe hands of ASOT leader Armin van Buuren and Pardon My French maestro DJ Snake, the smaller ‘Terminal’ stage, a warmly cocooned indoor tent, was playing host to the sounds of Jonas Blue, Malaa, Lucas & Steve, and Kungs, with the latter set proving a particular highlight. Another DJ to spin an Avicii tribute (this time in the form of ‘You Make Me’), the Frenchman’s horn-led style – filled with the occasional tech-house rammer in the shape of Rebuke’s ‘Along Came Polly’ – was perfectly accompanied by the cacophony of cheers from the late-night crowd as Friday’s sunrise started to show.
With the thrusting hips of viral sensation Salvatore Ganacci kicking off that Friday feeling on the mainstage, further sets followed from the likes of KSHMR and Alan Walker, before prog prince Alesso launched an explosive array of fireworks into the night sky upon completion of a typically euphoric performance packed with hits such as ‘Calling’ and timeless crowd pleaser ‘If I Lose Myself’. The set proved an appetising starter for the main course that followed with Martin Garrix – looking to top the DJ Mag Top 100 vote for a fourth consecutive year – taking to the stage on one working leg following a recent break. Luckily, the injury did nothing to quell the explosive atmosphere delivered by the Dutch youngster as he blitzed through a truly dynamic 90 minutes which included vibrant opener ‘Yottobyte’ and the Dallas K remix of his own Bebe Rexha collaboration ‘In The Name of Love’. Over in the terminal stage, the 3am to 4.30am ravers were quick to welcome the slick sounds of priest and pioneer, Tchami, as the CONFESSIONS boss dropped Anti-Up’s ‘Concentrate’ and his own AlunaGeorge remix of ‘You Know You Like It’.
As the slumping legs of party goers trudged through thick slushes of mud, they knew there was still one more day of action to go, and what a finale it proved to be! Sufficiently warmed up by the sounds of Martin Solveig and Jax Jones’ fresh collaborative project ‘Europa’, a heavy downpour of rain during Will Sparks’ set only invigorated the crowd further as the Aussie party starter bounced energetically whilst screaming at the crowd to jump with him in unison. By the time up-and-coming female DJ, SKIY – best known for her Heldeep release ‘Who Got The Keys’ – had stepped onto the mainstage fresh from her set in the Terminal to fill the void left by the delayed Sebastian Ingrosso – the 70,000 in attendance were ready for a glimpse of their Swedish hero.
They for more than they bargained for as not one, but two, SHM members took to the stage with Seb introducing Steve Angello for a historic b2b. After opening with ‘How Do You Feel Right Now’ and a flurry of tech-house hits from acts like Fisher, Steve’s arrival heralded a much more progressive-house feel to the performance as the pair worked in an edit of their seminal ‘Don’t You Worry Child’ with Avicii’s ‘Wake Me Up’ – further proof that a full 15 months on from the Swede’s death, the industry will forever remember the impact he made on the EDM scene.
With The Chainsmokers preceding a typically frenzied festival finale from multi-talented producer Timmy Trumpet, AirBeat One 2019 was physically over, but would truly remain in the minds and hearts of all attendees for many generations to come.