Defqon.1 Redefines the Hardstyle Festival Experience Once Again
The Defqon.1 festival experience drew to a close as thousands of overjoyed and dedicated partiers trailed away from the Red Stage on its final night. The three days previous were total madness - three days of nothing but Hard music, insane production, and undeniable dedication. This was the 12th edition of Defqon.1, which has over the years has turned from a single day event into a full-scale 3 day camping festival. The festival is extremely well known in Europe, and has a history of selling out extremely quickly every year. Each year, the festival increases in size, production, and artist variety.
Defqon.1 is based around Hard EDM, which includes (but is certainly not limited to) Hardstyle & Hardcore, their respective subgenres, as well as experimental stages in new trends you've quite possibly never heard of, or even imagined. You would never expect that such crazy different music styles could have such a dedicated following. Defqon.1 is without a doubt more than a music festival, it's a collective celebration of the dedication to the culture and lifestyle this music gives to individuals across the world.
After visitors set up their tents and enjoyed the perks of the 5 star campsite on Friday, the Gathering at the Blue and Black Stages all kicked things off with the sounds of world-class artists like Max Enforcer, D-Block & S-te-Fan, Brennan Heart, Gunz for Hire, Endymion, and Korsakoff. Thousands of people started their weekends in style with Q-dance’s unique start to the festival, and even after a long night of people going wild, the levels of excitement among the party guests was simply too high to to go sleep. The party continued into the morning with miniature sound-systems around the campsite blasting Hardstyle, Hardcore, Terror & Frenchcore.
The following day, Saturday, is when the party really got started. With 62,000 guests on the festival grounds and 12 stages representing every side of the Harder Styles of dance music, the energy was just unbelievable. The main stage of Defqon.1, better known as the Red Stage, was opened up by Hardstyle legend The Prophet under his new monicker Elkabass. With a set of full originals at a slower tempo than his usual work, he did a brilliant job opening up the festival, preparing everyone for the madness ahead. Elkabass was followed by a highly expected set from Scandinavian Hardstyle pioneers Da Tweekaz. Their unique melodic & harmonic sound has achieved crazy following over the past years, and they finally got their well deserved spot on the main stage of the biggest Hardstyle festival in the world.
The Blue Stage hosted the biggest names in Raw Hardstyle this year, such as Radical Redemption, Frequencerz, Hard Driver, and the final performance of Freakz at Night. With the rise of Raw Hardstyle over the past few years, the Blue Stage experienced a total takeover of Raw sounds this year. Insane production and the Blue stage go hand in hand - this stage alone holds over 10,000 people, and there was no issue keeping it packed the entire time with people wearing gear from their favorite DJs & record labels.
At the Red Stage around 4 PM, the Power Hour was in full force. The Power Hour is a unique experience that was introduced at the 2014 gathering. For one hour, the main stage plays a collection of the most notable tracks in the Hard music world, hosted by special guests like Deepack, who are some one of the oldest Hardstyle artists of all time, MC Villan, MC Dv8, and Mr. Polska, the fastest rising star in the Dutch hip-hop scene. The Power Hour was a massive success in 2014, and this year, it was even crazier. With everyone in the crowd singing along to every track , the Power Hour was truly an amazing experience, and will continue to be one for many years to come.
Meanwhile, across the river, the Silver and Yellow stages were going crazy with 200 BPM+ madness. Frenchcore, Terrorcore, and Industrial is the name of the game here - these small side stages have insanely dedicated crazy party people behind them. Artists like Dr. Peacock, Noisekick, Akira and Ophidian kept this insane corner of the festival going for hours on end. With around 500 people crammed into this small area, the party got so insane that people were climbing all over the shipping containers that the stages were constructed from, standing on top and doing the classic Hak/Gabberdance, having the time of their lives.
One stage that had unbelievable energy through the roof throughout the entire party was the Black Stage. This stage was the platform for the top tier Hardcore artists to showcase their new tracks and epic hits. The vibe at the Black Stage was truly legendary - attendees brought a whole new meaning to the words passion and dedication. Artists like Angerfist, Evil Activities, Tha Playah, and Miss K8 completely destroyed the packed tent in the middle of the Dutch countryside in an assault of strobes, lights, and extremely loud, fast, Hardcore music. The people at this stage truly care about the music, and easily spend the entire festival at the Black. The great thing about Defqon.1 is that there's something for everyone!
And then, it was time for the first endshow of the weekend. Q-dance is known for their impressive spectacles at the end of each event, and this year was no different. Extremely bright lights, lasers, and fire shot into the sky as a plethora of exclusive tracks blasted through the Red’s massive system. Seeing so many people together, united by one music, is an amazing experience. The endshow conatined many new premieres, including the upcoming summer hit from Noisecontrollers & Bass Modulators, "Solar." The Red’s system closed with an exclusive track from Brennan Heart’s oldschool alias, Blademasterz, that brought back the feelings from the classic times of Hardstyle music in 2009/2010.
After that, the Red Stage powered down for the night, and the party guests trickled down the festival straight to the afterparty at the Blue til 4 AM, which was hosted by Hardstyle household names like Wasted Penguinz, Bass Modulators, and the 15 year celebration of Deepack. The afterparty at the Black hosted Hardcore fans through the whole night, with a collection of Hardstyle names like Kasparov, and the artists behind “This Is Hardcore.” In Holland, the party never stops.
Sunday morning was an interesting experience on the campsite - half of the people there were still raging from the night before, while the other half were just waking up, and everyone was exhausted but ready to do it all again. Sunday was all about the side stages at Defqon.1 - the Red Stage closed down for the day, in preparation for another crazy evening and end-show.
The two places to be on Sunday were the UV Stage and Magenta Stage. UV was a total gamechanger this year, moving from an inside tent to an outdoor stage that was essentially the size of a standard music festival, within Defqon.1. UV hosted the best in melodic Hardstyle, with acts like Psyko Punkz, Rebourne, The Pitcher, Wasted Penguinz, and Sound Rush. This stage had unbelievable energy all day, and the rain earlier in the day didn’t stop the crowd from going totally crazy. As the sky cleared up and the sun came out, UV turned into a beacon of energy and madness within the festival.
Magenta hosted a collection of classic Hardstyle tracks that brought back nostalgic feelings to anyone who has been involved in the music for a long time. DJ Stephanie, who played both the UV and Magenta, played a set of tracks that everyone in the crowd recognized from their years of passion and dedication to Hardstyle music, and the classic sounds that were the spark that caused the movement to grow so much in recent years.
Meanwhile, in front of the closed Red stage, a group of 100+ Americans & Canadians who travelled to the festival met to take a picture together. Without a doubt, 2015 was a massive year for Americans and Hardstyle music. The drive to see the Hardstyle mecca, Defqon.1, inspired many to make their dreams come true by visiting the festival. It was an amazing moment to see such a passion shared between so many individuals from all over the North American continent come together at this moment at the Red. Q-dance welcomed all American visitors to the festival with a custom goodie pack including their own "QSA" Heinekin bottles, stickers, shirts, and more gear to spread the world of Hardstyle through the United States and Canada.
As soon as the picture was over, it was time for the Red to open up again, one last time. The first set of the night was one of the most expected of the whole weekend - Defqon.1 Legends. No one knew who was behind it, and for months, speculation filled the internet forums about who the Defqon.1 Legends would be.
The cinematic introduction at the Red opened up the stage, and a deep voice announced three names - Wildstylez, Noisecontrollers, & Isaac. Naturally, the crowd went totally crazy, and these three guys played a set of total classics, their own Defqon.1 anthems and their most well known tracks. Bass Modulators & Adaro followed, completely dominating the stage with nothing but pure Hardstyle energy. There is no feeling like going totally crazy with thousands of people, all in tune with each other and the music they were experiencing.
Defqon.1 drew to a close, and the second end-show was once again a barrage of light, sound, and fire. The well known voice echoed through the festival with the well known ending phrase at all Q-dance events - “This was a Q-dance Experience. Have a safe trip home, and see you next year!” followed by the iconic Q-dance sound. Once again, Q-dance has raised the bar on the Hardstyle festival experience. There is nothing like seeing this celebration of life, music, and friendship come together every year, on many continents.
The clientele of Defqon.1 is truly a special group of people. Every single guest understands the music and the culture so well, and is so in tune with what the festival stands for. You don't see fights breaking out between people, or even arguments. If a beer is spilled, the usual response is either a shrug and a session of going totally crazy with the person who spilled your beer for a few seconds, or an offer to buy another, and the start of a new friendship. There is truly nothing like the Hardstyle festival experience.
This year, a new addition was announced to the Defqon.1 family - Chile will be joining Australia & the Netherlands as a host of the festival in December of this year. Hardstyle is growing faster than ever before, and becoming a truly global movement. This music truly has a future in the international environment, and the future is a very bright place. With Q-dance, you know there’s one thing you can expect - Q for Quality.
Photo Credit: Rossu Media