Legend states that those waking up on ‘rave day’ will experience a surge of thrill and anticipation that’s somewhat comparable to winning the lottery. After counting down this dawning day for almost four months, eleven thousand ravers across Australian soil were itching to get their fix and when night fell on the 23rd of April, this craving was about to become a full-blown reality…
When HSU (Harder Styles United) announced the return of their beloved Midnight Mafia concept, Harder Styles fans erupted with excitement and once the A-class line-up dropped like a bomb, it was confirmed that this was going to be THE biggest, most eminent indoor event of the year! Due to being overseas when last years’ Midnight Mafia was held, I could only make assumptions based on the scene’s Chinese whispers, photos and footage and of course, HSU’s track record of hosting immaculate productions.
As the event approached, my curiosity grew; this years’ edition of Midnight Mafia was completely sold out and punters had even gone as far as selling (and unfortunately buying) counterfeit tickets. Whilst I’m on the subject of tickets, one thing that that I just have to commend HSU for is the fact that they deleted posts on the event page that advertised tickets for over $150. It was extremely refreshing to see that an event organisation showed such attention to this and truly cared about how much their attendees were forking out.
On another note and before I get down to the nitty-gritty about the night itself, I’d also like to bring up the ample effort that HSU put in to keeping their partygoers safe during this night. Leading up to the event, HSU posted various updates regarding safety and posted a short video of Radical Redemption and Frequencerz urging partygoers to stay safe, hydrated and to look after one another. I’ve never seen another event organiser in Australia push forth harm minimisation so strongly; it was encouraging, yet made me incredibly nervous to see how partygoers would act during the event itself.
So, what exactly happened on this fateful night? For those unlucky folk who had their social feeds flooded with photos and videos, after reading this you’ll surely be amongst the first to purchase tickets for the following event. And for those who were lucky enough to immerse themselves in the abundance of skitz times, you’re about to relive some of those Midnight Mafia memories!
It was somewhere around 11:00PM when my friend and I arrived to Sydney Olympic Park and let me tell you, being fashionably late was not very fashionable as I’d missed the epic flood of partygoers into the venue when the party began at 8:30PM. I mean, I wasn’t purposely late, I worked until 9:30PM and took three trains from the airport to get to the venue; I thought that was pretty dedicated. After hopping off the train, I saw hundreds of old ‘rockers’ and wannabe hipsters who just so happened to be coming from a Black Sabbath show…
Midnight Mafia or Black Sabbath? My choice was pretty damn obvious.
Anyhow, after a short walk we finally reached our destination. This venue seemed very familiar to me and once we got inside a surge of nostalgia rushed over me as I commemorated my days in the Big Day Out ‘boiler room.’ In the outdoors part, there were food and drink stalls, people aimlessly wandering around and plenty of room to sit down and rest. Upon entering the venue, I could hear Psyko Punkz playing “Hit The Bong” and I my body and mind instantly clicked into party-mode. The initial vibe I sensed from walking through the crowd was amazing. I seldom saw partygoers looking around or sitting on the ground being wet-blankets (thank god for the ‘no picnicking rule’), they were fully fixated on the production, the music and making the most out of this spectacular experience. In comparison to BDO’s Boiler Room, Midnight Mafia wasn’t packed to the brim, which was unexplainably good; I wasn’t looking forward to having my feet stepped on and exchanging sweat with randoms, so thank fuck for that. HSU could’ve completely packed out the venue to its capacity, however it was great to see that they put the safety of their party people as top priority.
As I was walking through the crowd I saw two people dressed in fluro holding ‘crowd care’ signs on their own accord. It was incredible to see that people were really taking the whole harm minimisation thing seriously and that’s something that you’d never see at any other dance music event in Sydney.
Finally, we arrived backstage where I dropped off my bags and caught up with the artists before heading out to party in the crowd. Oh, we may or may not have drank some of Noisecontrollers’ vodka (with his permission, of course).
We made it just in time for the beginning of Da Tweekaz set and boy, was I excited for this! The Norwegian duo have their way with crowds and every time they touch down on Australian soil, skitz times are ensured, so I was expecting no less than upbeat tunes, wild antics and duckies! For the first time ever, HSU decided to incorporate an anthem to compliment the event, giving Da Tweekaz and MC D to create “The Hitmen.” Of course they played that, but dropped other Tweeka gems such as “Freedom” with Neilio, “Tweekay 14,” “No Ducks, No Glory” and of course, their remix of “Frozen,” which had the entire venue front-to-back belting out the lyrics. That was an epic moment. Another treasured memory from their set was when their raw-equivalent Frequencerz joined them on stage to play their crossover collab “Full Control.” The only thing that could’ve made this set better was if someone stage-dived, but I guess that’s a pretty far-fetched request.
Everyone in the crowd lost their shit during this non-stop hour of madness as punters were well and truly pumped up to be blown away by the following act. Next to grace the decks was the critically acclaimed ‘God’ of Hardstyle, Noisecontrollers. Entering the stage with an intro consisting of his greatest tracks and a voiceover, Noisecontrollers opened his set with “Get Loose” before gracing the crowd with “Rocked Up,” with Bass Modulators, an edit of “All Night Long/So High,” “Down Down,” “Astral” and of course, my personal favourite “Solar,” which I absolutely lost my shit to. I still cannot fathom how the f*ck such a great masterpiece like ‘Solar’ was created, I mean, that track is seriously my spirit animal… Nevertheless, Noisecontrollers also dropped classic Hardstyle anthem “Power Of The Mind” by Headhunterz and judging by the voice recording that consisted of “fwaarrrrk,” “woah” and “oh my god” I’m guessing that the rest of the crowd was digging those older flavours.
One of the most important factors of the night was the production itself and let me tell you, HSU outdid their previous efforts. Everything from the lasers, visuals, voiceovers and colossal sound system complimented each other, creating a full circle production and multi-sensory experience for visitors. The venue is quite hollow and large, however the sound remained crisp and clear, even if you were standing towards the back. I’m not even exaggerating; Midnight Mafia’s production was multi-climactic, so big ups to HSU!
After Noisecontrollers’ set concluded, it was time for pioneers D-Block & S-te-Fan to take the stage. Opening their set with energetic floor-filler “Higher,” the guys kept their legacy rolling as they smashed out melodic masterpieces “Louder,” “Beat As One” and their remix of Dash Berlin & Jay Cosmic’s “Here Tonight” amongst others.
With all this euphoric Hardstyle, it only seemed logical to get drunker and who better to do that with than Da Tweekaz?! Backstage isn’t as ‘wild’ as you think it is; for your information, we were demolishing a bottle of Jagermeister, but doing so in quite a tame manner. After a long conversation and well-needed catch-up with my European buddies, it was time to head back into the crowd to experience some medium rare magic from Frequencerz.
With their debut album still freshly imprinted in the scene, it was only obvious that the duo would tear the crowd a new one when they opened their set with stunning success “Wolfpack” with Tartaros. From then on, it just kept getting better and better; the vibe was incredible and you could see all the steadfast fans shouting every lyric. It’s no secret that Raw Hardstyle in Australia isn’t as ‘developed’ as The Netherlands, so I was curious to see how the crowd would respond over the next couple of hours.
In my opinion, Frequencerz were the perfect act to program for this event; their powerful sound is perfect to introduce to prospective raw Hardstyle fans, however it’s not too overwhelming for newbies. Treating party goers to a simply flawless set, Frequencerz brought the night to all new heights by dropping “12FU,” “Burning” and B-Front’s “Mysterias,” a track that’s widely appreciated by Aussie fans. The guys seemed to be having the time of their life on stage, I mean c’mon, Niels ditched the decks, came to the front of the stage and started hakken to their Hardcore edit of “Bitch.” Talk about duo dynamics!
Next up was the absurdly tall ‘King’ of raw Hardstyle, Radical Redemption. He had no mercy. He was prepared to relentlessly tear down the walls of the venue and leave a trail of destruction. During his intro, I grabbed my voice recorder and yelled “I’M SO READY TO FUCKING KICKROLL!” I knew that the die-hards would be kick-rolling all over the place, however I didn’t quite anticipate how impactful the kickrolls would be. Radical, dude, you’ve seriously started a trend here and I can’t get enough.
Programmed for a thirty-minute ‘live’ set, I’ve never seen such quick mixing (and kickrolls) in my entire life – I was seriously impressed by Radical’s skills. With his set mainly consisting of material from his “One Man Army” album, he annihilated the crowd with beastly tracks such as “Piece Of Shit,” and “East Side Connection” before really pushing the limits with Hardcore tracks “Scream” with Miss K8 and “Injustice & Pain.” I honestly thought that Radical was going to stage dive or his arms were going to fly off from kick-rolling so hard, that’s how climactic these 30 minutes were.
With no fucks given, he then went where no-one expected him to go, closing his set with 200BPM+ banger “Bring Us Some” with Destructive Tendencies. Whilst he was playing this brutal slammer, I looked to my left to see Darren Styles and Breeze looking utterly confused and slightly scared; if I could put a speech bubble next to his mouth, it would read “How am I going to top this…?”
Despite Radical’s rather ‘hard’ ending, once Styles, Breeze & Whizzkid took the stage, the crowd went absolutely crazy when their ears were kissed with the signature UK Hardcore sound. I felt right at home when Styles & Breeze dropped UKHC anthems “You’re My Angel” and “Save Me.” Also dropping “Heroes,” a collaboration with Da Tweekaz, Styles was joined on stage by the guys himself, marking one of the nights biggest highlight’s.
Personally, when UK Hardcore is incorporated into a line-up it calls for excitement, euphoric, yet energetic beats and cohesion between the dedicated partygoers. I feel like Dutch Hard Dance fans and organisations need to take a leaf out of our book when it comes to the appreciation of UKHC. It’s not overly ‘serious’ music, which is great because after the intensity of Raw Hardstyle it’s invigorating to be able to just let loose and smile…
Closing down the night was Hardcore’s beloved tag-team, Mad Dog and AniMe. A large portion of the crowd was devouring the fast tempo and brutal beats which was awesome to see. Hardcore is typically a secondary genre in Australia, so it was great to see it shine during the conclusion of Midnight Mafia. Departing towards the middle of Mad Dog and AniMe’s set, I left the venue with an exhausted body and sore feet, however I felt liberated that the night ran smoothly and successfully.
The t’s were crossed and i’s were dotted at this years’ edition of Midnight Mafia, marking just how far HSU have come since their earlier days and smaller events. This event marked huge things for the Hard Dance scene in Sydney; it brought a whole new level of professionalism, an awe-inspiring production and an all-round experience for prospective and existing fans.
Successfully executing a sold-out second edition of Midnight Mafia, the future is not only looking brighter than ever for HSU, but also for the Hard Dance scene in Australia, as we once again prove to the public just how interconnected and united we are.