By: Cassi Catsaros
**Disclaimer: All photographs retain credit to Kevin Verkruijssen, Stephan Versluis and Davy Huijgens and Rossumedia**
On the 7th of February in the year 2015, an approximated number of around 30,000 bouncing souls gathered in the vicinity of 13,600 square metres of the notorious GelreDome in Arnhem, The Netherlands. For those of you who are unaware of the happenings of this night, to put it plainly, together as 30,000 individuals from all walks of life, we tore the GelreDome down to shreds and blew the roof off in style. For those of you who were there to experience this dome of madness, stay with me as I will take you on a very special journey through a different set of eyes and experiences on this fateful night. For those who were watching the live stream or listening to b2s radio, you may be especially curious to read this as I was one of the two voices hosting this incredible event. Instead of dedicating an entire article to say “Oh the light-show was fucking insane and this artist played a new track, blah fucking blah,” I decided to kick things up a notch (or 10) and let you in on my experiences as not just a ‘backstage chiller’ but as one of the gears in this huge wheel of the production.
9:16PM: As my means for transportation took a sharp left at the sign that indicated “GelreDome,” I began to feel a swirling mess of butterflies having their own wild party in my stomach. My driver wishes me the best of luck and that’s when it really sets in. Thousands, hundreds of thousands and maybe even one million listeners will be entertained and guided by my voice for the night. My hands began shaking slightly as I retreated from the car and slid my coat on. I shivered in the crisp winter air and began walking towards the entrance. I rang Jeffrin, (who is the legend of b2s radio and also the guy that I would be co-hosting for the night) and informed him of my whereabouts.
“It’s 9:19 and I have just arrived to the GelreDome and my life for the night. I’m standing outside the crew entrance and FUCK IT IS FUCKING COLD. There are so many excited cunts wandering around outside waiting for the doors to open, but sucked in, I get to go inside now!”
9:22PM: Jeff comes outside and escorts me inside. At the door to the crew entrance, a girl asks if she can come inside with us… (In your dreams, sweetheart…) I give my ID card to the reception, they give me a backstage wristband and in I go!
9:30PM: We make our way to the industrial part of the GelreDome and I am given a quick tour of parts of the venue that I didn’t even know existed. I am instantly overwhelmed, it feels like a whole new world out here and is such an insane contrast with the usual stance within the overly sweaty crowd. I subtly say to my voice recorder “Behind the scenes fucking rocks!” Once we arrived at the radio studio, I couldn’t hold in my disbelief to the fact that this little studio situated at the very top of the GelreDome even existed! I was seriously impressed with the radio studio in which I would be spending the night in and around. After being given a quick tour of the studio and it’s equipment, I am ready to jump on the mic and introduce myself to the fuckload of people who are listening from the comfort of their own home!
There’s something special about hosting a show with two people, from the very first moment when Jeff asked me to introduce myself to everybody listening I was straight in the zone and my sole purpose to entertain just shone right out. After hosting a radio show previously as a sole host, I picked my game up and threw it straight into some traditional Australian “shit-talk” (Shit-talk: the act of engaging in an entertaining conversation that is mostly irrelevant to the topic but has a sense of hilarity anyway).
9:45PM: “I am backstage and on a mini tour before the GelreDome is packed out with thousands of anticipated souls bouncing around crazily to the beats. The stage is looking quite impressive and when Jeff explains the whole concept of b2s and the design of their parties, it finally makes sense.”
I stand backstage for a short while and when the clock ticks around to the dawning hour of 10:00PM, Luna jumps up behind the decks and kicks off the night with some groovy old-school tunes. When the people begin flooding in, this is our queue to leave as we head back upstairs to officially welcome our listeners to Hard Bass 2015! As we are entering the radio studio again, we see some very familiar (and slightly nervous) faces standing outside our doors. Greeted by Toneshifterz and Audiotricz, my night had just kicked into full swing and not to mention, I was happy to see a fellow Aussie in the house!
I have a chat to the artists before conducting their quick interviews and the guys from Audiotricz warn me that they’re not very fluent with their English (Their English is perfectly understandable, mind you.) After doing an exclusive interview with Toneshifterz at The Qontinent in 2014, I was happy to catch up with him once again and see what’s happening behind his studio doors. Throughout the interviews, in walks an all Australian party consisting of Code Black, Outbreak and a few other Aussies and I feel a wave of confidence wash over me.
10:42PM: “I am absolutely buzzing! I have just interviewed all of the members from (my favourite team) Team Blue and it went well, I think!”
After the conclusion of hardstyle pioneer Luna’s set, we had a quick chat to our listeners during the voice-over introduction that set the tone for the first team to bless the decks, Team Blue. When the music was about to kick off, we ran outside of the studio which led us to the very top of the arena where we took the best seats in the house to watch the beginning of the show.
When I was backstage and Jeff was showing me all of the cool technical shit that was planned for the night, I didn’t really believe the extent of the ‘fireworks,’ however when Team Blue kicked their performance off with a cheeky mash up of “Feel So Good” by Noisecontrollers” and “Dance No More” by Atmozfears and Audiotricz, the fireworks exploded right before my eyes in an overwhelmingly huge bang!
11:01PM: “HOLYYYYYY SHIT!! FIREWORKS! I didn’t really believe it when Jeff mentioned fireworks, but this was just purely impressive!” We watched a bit of the show before jumping back behind the microphones and commentating some of the happenings to the listeners back home. We continued talking every 5-10 minutes and it became more and more fun each time I spoke. Gaining my confidence quickly, I knew that by the end of the night I would practically be a pro (just kidding, but I’ll come close.)
I put my journalism pants on and whip out my voice-recorder. “It’s 11:34 and the radio is going off! I’m with Jeff here and he’s wild, the party’s wild, *looking outside to the carpark* there’s still busses coming in from who the fuck knows where and the inside arena is absolutely packed already! The merchandise stand at the back of the dance-floor is dealing with a flood of party-goers, everyone wants a jacket! Anyway, Team Blue are killing it, the lights are great already and the overall show is quite impressive.”
At 12:10AM and edging onto my usual bedtime, Zatox, his token vocalist Dave Revan and Atmozfears casually roll into the studio for a quick chat on b2s radio. During the interview, I can sense that Atmozfears is especially nervous, so I try to reassure him that everything will be okay, but it turns out that I simply tell him to make sure that he doesn’t throw up whilst on stage… (Eek!)
Next up I have a quick chat to my favourite Italian and one of my personal idols, Zatox. We talk on radio and continue our chat off air as we chat about his upcoming Australian tour, his talented team of producers at Unite and his really cute baby boy who is cheering him on back in Italy.
12:20AM: “Zatox and Atmozfears have left to go and prepare for their set so we go and sit outside and watch the show. The national anthem of hardstyle itself, “FTS” is blasting and literally everybody (me inclusive) in the arena is wildly shouting the lyrics and losing their shit!”
What a party so far, the atmosphere is on a cheerful high and although I can only see the little ants dancing beneath me on the dance-floor, I can feel a gust of vibes flying around and bouncing off the walls and evidently smacking me right in the face.
12:50AM: Bass Modulators are almost through with their half an hour of power and their set has been incredible so far! Full of cheeky edits and mash-ups, I had already made up my mind fair and square that Team Blue was my personal favourite set of the night!
At 1:00AM Team Green came on which consisted of Zatox, Atmozfears, Brennan Heart and B-Frontliner and was running an ever tight competition as my favourite along with Team Blue.
From the very first minute, the GelreDome transformed from a euphoric warm-up mode into full swing when they were instantly surprised by the power that Team Green delivered. I had a quick chat on the radio, did some shout outs to the listeners at home and as soon as we knew it, the hashtag, HB15 was trending second on Twitter, we were not going to stop until it moved into the number 1 spot!
At 1:30AM we went downstairs and after not being able to eat during the day due to immense nerves, I was finally able to chill out and energise myself. Unlike the usual soggy fries and random food served at festivals, we were treated to top-notch catering with pasta salads, a delicious mozzarella salad, fresh bread and kruidenboter and so much more… (Fuck yeah!)
Somewhere around 2:30AM, the dudes from Team Yellow (Adaro, Outbreak, Frequencerz and Crypsis) bomb our studio for a laugh on radio and we especially joke with fellow Aussie Outbreak who was the previous co-host for Hard Bass and during his set we kept joking about Outbreak having his first ballet performance… (Not sure if the listeners at home really got it, but we surely enjoyed it!)
On stage, B-Frontliner had suddenly emerged from a space-shuttle straight from planet Xenon, dressed in space-suits which made everyone do a double take. I see Frontliner doing a glory lap around the decks and I have a moment of reflection of how the f*ck mother nature created somebody with such long arms. (Frontliner, we love you and your long arms.) B-Frontliner treated us to a surprisingly groovy set consisting of some old, some new and fortunately nothing borrowed… or blue!
3:00AM: “Team Yellow is here and the GelreDome has kicked into overdrive!” Suddenly from the warmness and unity that both Team Blue and Green brought, Team Yellow brought their bag of tricks that truly cast a different kind of spell amongst the crowd. Kicking it up a notch, Adaro, Crypsis and Outbreak really did their deed in blowing the minds of those in the GelreDome.
Apart from the rawstyle action downstairs, I was beginning to feel the zzz’s creeping up on my brain due to the fact of compromised sleep the night before. I was fighting the tiredness and knew that no amount of coffee could help, so I just kept absorbing myself in the music and also talking on radio to keep myself awake and lively.
3:30AM: Sitting outside and enjoying the show and slightly drifting off into a power-nap, I am suddenly woken by a two metre tall object standing at the window… I suddenly wake up when I realise that half of Team Red has rocked up to have a cheeky interview and the two metre object was actually Radical Redemption. I greet both him and Warface and try to wake myself up within the time-frame of one minute. I jump on the microphone with both of the guys and seeing as I’m starting to feel slightly delirious, I decide to start joking around with the guys…
Me: *To Radical Redemption on live radio*: “So um, you know how in one of your tracks it’s all like ‘Don’t fuck with the Radical’ – What happens if someone fucks with the Radical?”
Radical Redemption: *Gobsmacked and lost for words followed by some stuttering and laughing.* “Ah, um… Well that’s quite an unexpected question…”
This was surrounded by laughter within the studio and I then decided to ask every artist from now on what happens if they fuck with the Radical…
Warface and Radical Redemption come outside of the studio and watch the show from the top view before we wish them luck and they go and get dolled up for their performance, we decide to try our luck with jumping down to the crowd and having a cheeky hakk with some very sweaty people whilst Frequencerz did their live act.
“4:30AM and WOAH, THERE IS SWEAT EVERYWHERE and a lot of c*nts on the gurn…” I saw over-excited jaws chewing their way through China and tongues flying around the place, pupils the size of Jupiter and frantic movements of the arms and legs that (mostly) was in unison with the beat.
Regardless of the level of gurn which is inevitable at any party that you go to within any musical genre, most people (except a few who had taken it way too far) looked as though they were truly enjoying themselves and the production itself.
For those who were watching the live-stream: How about the close ups of peoples pupils and their overactive jaws? Absolutely priceless…
4:45AM: Before the mighty Team Red blew up the GelreDome in the final set of the night, we walked into the artist dressing rooms which were crowded with artists, their friends and also a slightly tipsy MC Villain, who we kidnapped upstairs to the radio studio for a bit of banter. Although Villain wasn’t performing at Hard Bass, we simply decided to interview him and ask him our new signature question “What happens when you fuck with the Radical?” To his surprise, he was almost speechless so Jeff answered, “You get pregnant!” Great answer Jeff! Ladies, use protection when fucking with the Radical. What does two deliriously tired radio presenters and a drunk MC Villain equal? Well it equals a fucking funny interview which escalates into me telling the world that I am dressing up as Villain for Carnavale next weekend.
After our laugh which pretty much took up the majority of Frequencerz live act (oops), we had only two hours of brutal raw hardstyle provided by Radical Redemption, Warface, Titan and Freakz At Night. We said a few sleep deprived sentences on radio before I grabbed a bag as a pillow and a coat and had a little sleep on the floor of the studio.
As soon as I put my head to the ground I could literally feel the GelreDome shaking from side to side and for a second I wasn’t sure if I would walk out of here alive. From down on the dance-floor you can’t feel the force that moves the venue from side to side, but upstairs, woah, it felt like I was on a boat…
5:50AM: Just as I was slowly drifting off into the land of zzz’s whilst on the floor, I open my eyes to see B-Front standing in our studio. Frazzled and half asleep, I jump up as quick as I can and say hi to B-Front and apologise for being asleep. He is also extremely exhausted himself so we decide to turn the outside music down and have quite a long interview on radio. I just HAD to ask B-Front about his space outfit and he was extremely proud to tell me all about it. Once again, we ended up talking over the stream for a good 10 minutes or so but B-Front had a lot to say and I was really curious to hear it!
6:00AM rolled around and I had one brutal hour of this insomnia left. We huddled behind the computer and watched all of the highly intoxicated people on the live-stream and laughed until 6:30AM was amongst us and we prepared our souls to go even harder than before. Freakz At Night did the honour of closing down the party and from the little ants that I could see bobbing around on the dance-floor, it was absolute mayhem… About 10 minutes before the conclusion of the event, we did our very last presenting for the night where we fare-welled our listeners and I almost dropped asleep then and there…
7:00AM: Half delirious and in no fit state to stand on a bus, I jump in a taxi and then jump on a train with a sandwich and some biscuits and treat my ears to something a little calmer. Buzzing in a circle of euphoria and the fact that I conquered b2s radio for an entire night, I felt as though I really achieved something behind the scenes and it was an incredible experience working with Jeff and the b2s team! Being amongst the working wheel of a huge production and having hundreds of thousands of people hearing my voice was such a different experience opposed to the last time that I was in the GelreDome as a crowd member for Qlimax 2014…
So I guess that this is what it’s like to be situated practically on the roof of the GelreDome…
This is what it’s like to be part of the working wheel…
This is what it’s like to present the live radio at Hard Bass 2015…