As I stepped out of my cab on the junction of 32nd and Jefferson street in downtown LA, I looked up and was overwhelmed by the size of the behemoth Shrine Expo Hall. This place was big - really big. My first thoughts were, “of course, out of all the venues to pick for The Sound of Q-Dance, they would pick this one.” The size fits the party perfectly, and the venue itself has awesome history. It was built in 1906 The Al Malaikah Shriners, giving the place a really interesting Middle Eastern feel - it kind of feels like a place from an Indiana Jones movie. Needless to say, this had me more stoked than ever before to get in the party!
As I entered the party, the sounds of LA based Subground act “Skylapse” were bumping through the speakers. I explored the venue over the course of their act, hearing classic bigroom tracks remixed into subground edits. The Shrine Hall was filling up fast - by the time Skylapse was 45 minutes into their 7:00 PM set, the room was at least half full. As the clock neared 8:00, I went to the balcony above the event to watch the first Hardstyle act come on - Audiofreq.
Audiofreq had an extremely energetic performance, and his entrance on stage alongside M.C. Villain had the entire room going crazy. 30 minutes into his set, the Shrine was packed front to back. The QSA (an unofficial organization of American Q-Dance fans, supported by Q-Dance) was in full force. Seeing all sorts of crazy signs and props in the air really shows how strong this movement is, and how much it is growing. Audiofreq performed his hit tracks and kept the energy high, switching back and forth often between euphoric and raw styles with energetic kicks and transitions. The room was full of orange-clad, singing and extremely happy Q-Dance fans ready for a crazy night.
Following Audiofreq came the Psyko Punkz. These guys are no strangers to US parties, this being the final stop on their month-long 2014 US Tour. Psyko Punkz played their latest hit tracks, and surprised the Shrine with a very raw ending to their set! The massive LED stage animated behind them creating a very dynamic stage setting - confetti flew out of cannons, and lasers lit up the whole hall.
Technoboy then comes on stage, and the style changed to Italian Classics with a modern twist. His set was totally diverse, playing a mix of both old and new tracks, showing respect to his roots and his current projects as well. Technoboy played a selection of huge reverse-bass tracks, which made the crowd go absolutely crazy. The lights and LEDs got progressively more and more intense, along with the music.
Villan then introduces Coone to the crowd, and the crowd goes crazy. Coone played a set of his best known tracks along with some new/unreleased ones as well. He brought a new kind of energy to the Shrine, playing several unreleased tracks as well as some of his own classic tracks. As his set was going on, I ventured over to the merch booth and recognized a lot of the jackets from my summer at DefQon.1. Q-Dance is known for its quality merchandise, of which it releases a new line each year. It’s awesome to see these over stateside, very crazy to see how fast Q-Dance is expanding over here!
Zatox came on next and played an out of this world set. He played many of the tracks from his new album such as "New World Order," alongside Hardstyle classics like “FTS” and some really insane raw tracks as well. I spoke to Zatox last month about the performance and his new album. The lighting guy decided to go nuts with the lasers - at this point the geometric patterns and colors were something totally new to me that I had never seen in the states before. As I stood in the back of the venue, I reflected upon how much this event reminded me of the “Blue” stage at Defqon - it’s about the same size, maybe a little smaller, but totally crazy to see in Downtown LA, especially coupled with a showcase of Zatox’ new music!
Evil Activities closed out the night with pure Hardcore energy. By this point, I was seeing a crowd of several thousand Californians doing the Dutch “Hakken” dance and I was totally baffled. You see thousands of people doing this at festivals like DefQon.1, Hard Bass, or Qlimax, but seeing this in the United States was honestly a totally bizarre experience. Seems that no matter what country hardstyle fans come from, they love going crazy at a party just like that! At the end of the night, MC Villan made a very important announcement - DefQon.1 is coming to America. The crowd files out, riled up and excited, and The Sound of Q-Dance 3 comes to a close.
I was very impressed with the LED production Q-Dance did for this event - this kind of production allowed each artist to essentially have their own immersive stage, coupled with flames and insane amounts of confetti. The intros were as cinematic as ever, and the atmosphere was absolutely awesome.The Dutch festival standard is truly making it’s way stateside!
As headed back to the hotel, I watched QSA's Facebook explode about Villan’s Defqon.1 announcement, and it affirmed my belief that America is ready for Hardstyle/Hardcore parties. I’m excited to see where this movement goes, and this is only the beginning! 2015 will be a year that will bring many, many more Hardstyle parties to the United States.