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Timewarp Reviews: Mixed Feedback on Plastikman

Two our of more hardened clubbers took on Mannheim's annual festival for techno lovers, Timewarp.

Review 1 by thejudge2k

Friday 26th March – Cocoon Frankfurt

Decided to make the most of the weekend by heading to Frankfurt on Friday night before Time Warp. Took the 19:50 Lufthansa from LHR and were in our hotel (Le Meridien Park) near the station in Frankfurt by 11:30. Cab to Cocoon took about 20 mins and cost 20 euro – at 12:30 there was a small queue, although advance purchase of tickets counted for nothing as everybody was in the same line.

Cocoon Club, Frankfurt

The club is awesome - beautiful and interesting décor, rocking sound system, and plenty of space to sit. Relaxed atmosphere, but most people were quite dressed up, including plenty of rather attractive ladies! It was filling up, but still room to dance - Tobi Neumann was on the decks – first time I’d seen him and very impressed – funky pumping tunes – really got me dancing. Swayzak followed with a ‘live’ set which was very poor. Then Sven stepped up to rock it for the remaining hours. Left about 5:30am with the place still pretty full and the main room at full throttle. Loads of cabs outside for short trip back to hotel.

Saturday 27th March – Time Warp

Slept for 5 hours after Cocoon, then had a wander round the city and met up with friends at their hotel – Adina Apartments – very nice. Grabbed some dinner, then checked out of our hotel at 9pm. Train to the airport to drop our stuff at left luggage, then 30 min train to Mannheim (cost 45 euro return – free with Time Warp ticket if you take the regional trains – 1h 20m). Taxi straight to Time Warp location – about 15 mins/15 euro. Got there about 12:30.

The Time Warp location was unlike most other dance ‘festivals’ I’ve been to. A set of several large exhibition halls, all within a fairly compact space, with some outside area between them. Three main rooms were awesome – massive space, great production. Also a couple of smaller rooms, then a massive food hall, chill out area, 1000s of lockers, etc.

We headed to Floor 3 for more of Tobi Neumann – similar set to the night before at Cocoon, but again really enjoyed it – definitely a DJ I’ll be looking out for in future! 2:00am became 3:00am due to the clock change. Next it was Sven Vath on Floor 2 – one of the huge rooms with space for 1000s of clubbers. A great set followed with the usual addition of random dancers, acrobats, etc. Sven’s reputation, enthusiasm and tune selection (despite some dodgy mixing) meant the atmosphere was amazing. Tune of the weekend was a trumpet riddled track he played both at Cocoon and Time Warp - Die Vögel - Blaue Moschee.

Left Sven an hour early to go to Floor 3 for 2 hours of Marco Carola from 06:00-08:00. Banging tunes and awesome atmosphere as always, as well as some attractive women joining Marco in the both. Then it was back to a rammed Floor 2 for the most hyped performance of the festival:

08:00 Sunday 27th March – Plastikman Live

This performance had been hyped up to extreme proportions prior to the festival. What followed was one of the greatest multimedia experiences of my life. Firstly, all festival attendees had been asked to download a ‘SYNK’ app on their iPhone prior to the event. Once in the expanse of Floor 2, iPhone users could select a special WiFi network.

Everybody then waited with baited breath. The massive curved video wall on stage fired up with a visual representation of a sound wave as the first beats rang out from the sound system. The sounds began to build and build. Suddenly, the video wall went blank to reveal Richie Hawtin standing at a live console behind it. Cue huge roars from the crowd. This is when the full experience started to unfold.

The iPhone app kicked into action, showing the BPM, bars, beats, name and section of the track Hawtin was playing (see below). This may seem quite weird, but a massive proportion of dance music fans now produce themselves and to see what Hawtin was doing live I think is great idea. The on-screen visuals continued with bouncing balls, sound waves and various other symbols, all in time with the Plastikman back catalogue.

The iPhone app then began to enter different modes. Firstly, the screen went black, then the coloured blocks on stage appeared in sync on the iPhone screen – a cool touch – see the video here:

This was followed by more BPM/beats, before switching to a live video stream from within the stage – very impressive!

The fun and games continued, before a massive on screen countdown reached zero and everything went off. This was not the end however. Richie then appeared from behind the video wall, stood at a lector with some kind of midi controller and preceded to play Spastik as the last tune of the set (which had lasted closer to 2 hours rather than the original hour billed).


Whilst some people were obviously very annoyed that Hawtin did not play a 5 hour DJ set, and that musically this wasn’t top drawer, personally I think it was brilliant. If you wanted pumping techno tunes from a world class DJ, there were 15 hours of that. This was a world-first multimedia experiment that pushed the boundaries of what modern technology can achieve. I agree that you don’t want to be looking at your iPhone during a gig, but at the same time it really adds something to the experience if used in the right way. Can clearly see DJs broadcasting live track listings to your iPhone in future, with links to iTunes to purchase the tracks. Or live feeds from all stages so you don’t miss a thing.

10:00 Sunday 27th March – Reboot, Dubfire & the Back2Back Session

Reboot then played live in Floor 3 for an hour and it was much more of a traditional experience – laptops, controllers, lasers, etc. He rocked the crowd with his hit tunes and remixes, including a mass sit down which got everybody going, despite the fact sunlight was now strong outside.

11:00 returned to Floor 2 for the end of Dubfire who finished of brilliantly – some classics mixed with up-to-date tunes and finishing on Grindhouse – magical. It was now entering the remaining hours and it was time for the greatest party of all – the back to back session.

Originally billed as Villalobos Vs Carola Vs Dice, it was only a matter of time before Sven also joined in the action. Seeing 4 of the worlds best DJs playing together and having fun like they were at a mate’s house party was brilliant. Bottles of spirits were being passed around the booth as each stepped up with a different tune. The image was completed by loads of people on stage dancing away and Hawtin, Dubfire, Reboot, Magda and various others getting into the booth – truly emotional!

They played for the next 3 hours and it was a sensational atmosphere. We left just before 3, grabbed one of the 100s of cabs outside back to Mannheim station. Train to Frankfurt airport, picked up bags, 18:10 flight back to London and then to bed before work on Monday.


All in all, a great weekend. Everything brilliantly organised, not too expensive, great atmosphere and really not that difficult to get to. Def worth going to Cocoon on Fri night and getting back on Sunday evening was easy – no time off work required!


Review 2 by Nostrum

I had always wanted to go to Timewarp in Mannheim, but it was only this year when finally dates went out well for me. So I took the train from Berne (only 3 hours) and curiously travelled up to Mannheim last Saturday!

We entered TW at around 10:30pm and immediately met up with friends (Ibiza summer people). They had arrived earlier and so they showed us around. We took a walk through the vast area, had a look at every of the 5 dance floors and soon got in the mood to finally start the party. I hadn’t really been out since x-mas and so my clubbing batteries were 100% full (in a way it almost felt like going to the Ibiza openings, only that the weather didn’t really feel like summer yet).

The first half hour we spent in floor 3, where the Turntablerockers were playing some decent techhouse. Floor 3 was a big hall – although not as huge as floor one and two (which were massive) and had an ok sound quality and stunning visuals in the front (well – every floor had great visual walls anyway!). we knew we would come back to that floor later and so we went into the main hall where floor one and two were located. Yes, two floors in the same massive hall, but no overlapping sound at all (the floors also were separated trough a wall). Michel de Hey was playing in floor two. I was happy to see him again, it had been a long time since I heard him play the last time (as a guest of cox in space) and he did a great job, an energetic tech-house set. That was before midnight and it still had a warm up feel to it. The whole venue was not full at all yet. 

Michel De Hey

Then we walked over to floor 5, the pearl of all timewarp floors. It’s definitely the smallest and most beautiful floor of the entire event. It is located in a glassy bowl and was decorated with lots of shiny disco balls hanging from the domed ceiling and attached to the wall behind the dj booth and this floor also has the most clubbing feel to it, while all the other floors feel more like a mega rave. Last but not least, this is also the floor which regularly gets packed and then you have to wait outside for a while until some people are leaving and so there’s room for you and your mates. When we first entered this floor, Dixon was playing. Now Dixon is an artist I have a lot of respect for, I absolutely adore his productions, but have never been lucky enough to see him playing. And how I loved his set! It was quite downtempo and definitely deeeeeep. Aaah! Looking back, his set (or at least what we got of it) was one of the highlights of the night…and it was only just past midnight!!!

So, yes, the party had begun. The whole night passed away very quickly. Part of the whole fun at time warp is that you always wander from floor to floor, stay at a place for a while and then continue…so here’s what I remember from when it was dark outside:

A bit of Tobi Neumann (right) in floor 3 and suddenly, at 2am, the change to daylight saving time and it was already 3am. So we went to floor 2 to salute sven väth. He played a long set (4hrs) and was very varied – I remember listening to a piano house riff and me thinking “this wouldn’t have been possible with sven a few years ago”, but in the morning, at around 6am, he got really techy and pounding! And I must say, he’s still in top form. I always think it’s impressive what he’s achieved, not talking only about him but also about cocoon as a label. And with him being already in his mid-40ies, he’s still being one of the revolutionary minds in the business. But enough of praising sven :-)

Back to floor 5 and it was already slowing getting bright outside and another legend on the turntables – Laurent Garnier – just dropping his “man with the red face” and everyone cheering. And another short visit in floor 3 where marco carola was playing. In a way we tried to avoid going to floor 3 too much during the night/early morning, because we knew we would see a lot of these dj’s later on floor 2 (look at the running order and you’ll understand). We still managed to miss Martin Buttrich’s live performance, which was a pity (but you never catch all of the artists you want anyway at such a festival).

But at least we were back in floor two by 8am (more or less) to catch the live performance of Richie hawtin (Plastikman). Weeks before the festival everyone was going mad about this performance and it surely was planned as THE highlight of the whole party, also because they even transmitted the show from floor two over to floor one. Still, everyone and I mean EVERYONE wanted to go into floor 2 go get it really “live”. But at some point, they had to close the gates for a while. Now…speaking about the performance itself – I was massively disappointed. Most of the set was very very downbeat, barely danceable and just weird. I went to see the performance with no expectations at all, but still, the whole hype that had been around and the result just didn’t match…

After Plastikman, we went back to floor 5 for a last time that night/morning. It was 9am and floor 5 was only open till 10am. So last chance to get more of monsieur garnier! In daylight! With classics! And also some drum & bass…just the way we know Laurent!!! 

At around 10am our bodies gave us a signal we maybe should add FOOD to the system (haha) and so we went for breakfast. And here I might add that, the whole organisation of the event, was really really good IMO. You never had to queue for a long time to get drinks or food and also the toilet situation was fine! Well done timewarp. Also the chill out floor was good stuff. The only thing I don’t really like is the voucher system they have (where you have to buy vouchers and the pay with them), but I understand why they’re doing it.

After a short breakfast, we just made it to get the last bit of Reboot’s live performance in floor 3, of course he threw Caminando…nice memories from 2009! So it was already mid-morning, but the festival was still very very busy. I can’t really say at what time it was most busy, I guess between 4am and 10am, but it was never too crowded generally! (someone told me it was a bit less busy than last year, but I don’t know it that’s true, the pre-sale was sold out for example).

Caminando by Reboot:

And then, from 11am onwards, there was just floor 2 for us. Ricardo Villalobos vs. Marco Carola vs. Loco Dice. Great atmosphere. Afterhour feeling. Cracking music. And funny situation and memories. And at a certain point, in a strange twist of events, we suddenly got some wristbands and wooosh – two minutes later we were up on the stage, dancing next to the dj booth were above three mentioned guys were having a lot of fun and sven (wearing his turban), Dubfire (another one I unfortunately missed) and Richie etc. having even more fun. That was sometime between 1pm and 2:30pm and I remember us looking down at the far end of the hall, looking at the hordes of people still going at it full power and thinking “wow, this is impressive, 2pm and still THAT many people going strong!”.

I don’t know if they stopped the music at exactly 3pm, because we didn’t stay till the very end. But I do know, there was an afterhour at a club in Mannheim with marco carola and loco dice playing.

Bottom line – if you don’t have the cash to travel over to Miami for the Winter Music Conference, then definitely go to timewarp Mannheim. At 50€ entrance fee (and drinks at half of the prices compared to ibiza), you get 18hrs of the best electronic music around. Apart from the closing parties in Ibiza and the Streetparade in Zurich in August, which I recommend to any of you, this is the best electronic music festival I’ve ever been to and it definitely does get you in the mood for another summer full of mindblowing tunes…!!!!! 

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