Event Review: A Hardstyle Awakening At TomorrowWorld 2013

As a distant American reveler, the only references to build my expectations upon for my first Q-dance experience were YouTube videos and Facebook photos.  Even through those mediocre mediums, my expectations for stage production and lineup were already sky high. Little did I know, the glass ceiling of my expectations would be shattered into oblivion by a sinister scorpion with its nest of speakers on top of a hill at TomorrowWorld.  Little did I know that a blown knee, aching back, numb feet, and sore everything would be the aftermath of my hardstyle deflowering, and it’s a process I would eagerly go through again.

On the first day of entering the festival grounds, I saw smoke signals pluming from the horizon beckoning me to discover what lied ahead.  A group of unsuspecting virgins traversed the wooded path aligned with candy striped street lights towards the black rings of smoke.  As we neared the peak, flames spewed from atop of metal pillars, and the air around us began to shake from the pulsating bass of the Q-dance stage.  Our jaws dropped simultaneously as we feasted our eyes upon a marvelously constructed scorpion like stage complete with LED panels and pyrotechnics. As I focused my bewildered attention front and center, I witnessed an intimate group adorned in Q-dance apparel, waving custom orange flags, absolutely losing their minds as Brennan Heart unleashed his crossover track “Lose My Mind”.  The crowd belted out the lyrics with euphoria induced smiles upon their faces.  Overwhelmed by the 140+ BPMs and high energy of the crowd, I immediately began jumping and stomping around in circles.  The rest of the virgins followed suit unable to resist releasing their inner weekend warrior. In that moment, our group of hardstyle newbies collectively locked eyes and gained valuable understanding of the genre’s spirit; an understanding that would further cement itself with each moment spent at the Q-dance stage.

The rest of the weekend we explored the whimsical fantasy of TomrrowWorld jumping from stage to stage in awe of the production and attention to the tiniest details.  But, with each turn, the sounds of the Q-dance scorpion were like a gravitational pull, and we found ourselves returning to Q-base again and again.  Even the most critical of hardstyle skeptics in our group secretly split off to get their hourly dose of raging bass and fell further into the hypnotic kicks emanating from that corner of TomorrowWorld.  There were many of moments when friends turned to me and screamed “What’s the name of this song?!”  As the group’s human Shazam in all things EDM, I tried my best to ID.  A favorite of the weekend that left a resounding mark was “BassBoom” by the Psyko Punkz.  The track’s catchy spoken lyrics coupled with a “beat that goes boom” was one we couldn’t get enough of.   Fans were also treated to an encore performance by the duo as they covered for fellow hardstyle artist Code Black on Sunday.  The hair raising chart topper “Lights Go Out” by Wildstylez was also a track we all fell instantly in love with especially when it was played by the man himself.  We were are all blindsided by the bone chilling melody and, then, sucker punched by the ground rattling bass.  Those soaring melodies were taken down a darker path as Gunz For Hire dropped their own productions such as “Kings of the Underground”.  The crowd went manic as the masked duo mastered the impossible task of making hardstyle even more raw and gritty.

I became a hot mess of conflicted emotions with feelings of sadness as the end began to creep closer, but filled with excitement to the point of anxiety knowing that Q-dance is world renowned for ending a show with style.  Lasers, lights, and fireworks were perfectly synchronized as the Gunz For Hire’s bootleg of Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” saturated the crowd with full force.  If that weren’t impressive enough, fireworks were perfectly aligned with the lyrics and melody of “Colors” by Headhunterz to end the surreal journey of the weekend.

Although the crowd for the end show may have been slim, those who were there showed their undying dedication for hardstyle and represented a growing movement in the states that will eventually become a massive following.  I make this claim with confidence because what I realized over this past weekend was this: when one experiences hardstyle live over an immaculately engineered sound system like the one provided by Q-dance, the success rate of conversion is almost one hundred percent.  I watched friends come alive and drench the hardstyle hills with their sweat and laughter.  I heard so many stories over the weekend and continue to hear similar stories of people being introduced to hardstyle via the Q-dance stage at TomorrowWorld and becoming enamored by a whole new sound.  The discovery by newcomers is inevitable as Q-dance continues the invasion of hardstyle stateside.  So, don’t miss out on the next opportunity to witness the emergence live and catch many of the artists mentioned above. Hardstyle will be taking over Los Angeles at The Shrine for Sound of Q-Dance October 5th!  Tickets are still available here.