**Disclaimer: All photographs used in this article retain credit to Rossumedia**
Do you remember the immense stream of anticipation that as a child, you would encounter on the night before Christmas? I still vividly remember squirming around excitedly in my single sized bed and waiting for Santa Claus to plant his feet onto the roofs of my neighbourhood and leave bundles of gifts for all of the well-behaved children.
After a while of tossing and turning in my bed, trying to keep myself awake so that maybe, just maybe, I could catch Santa for a quick chat. To my disappointment, every single time I would fall asleep before I could even hear any smidgen of noise and when I awakened, it was like magic. Mine and my sister’s stockings were filled with brand new toys, the cookies, milk and carrots that we had left next to the fireplace were eaten to crumbles and well, it was pretty damn cool if you asked me.
You don’t feel that exhilaration often when rolling into your adult years and as we get caught up in the daily grind of work and our studies, the magic feels pretty much lost.
Last weekend, one thing was for fucking sure, I found that magical thrill and I felt as though (besides the alcohol and hard music) that special excitement had appeared again.
Now you all HAVE to know what I’m talking about here. Most of you reading this have been there, whether it be Christmas, the day before your wedding or another immensely exciting event, you would know the feeling when it’s just as good as the night before Christmas…
SATURDAY, 11TH APRIL 2015:
After enjoying the first day over 20 degrees since god knows when, it was safe to say that my body was seriously ready for the coming weekend. Although I hadn’t slept as much as I’d hoped, due to the fact that I was constantly tossing and turning with an emotional concoction of nerves and a die-hard excitement, I shot out of bed immediately and knew that it was time… IT WAS TIME. HIBERNATION WAS OVER!
The only words that I could manage to say during my initial waking hour were: “YAY, coffee and RE-BIRTH!”
11:30AM: With our best efforts, my friend, Sara and myself changed outfits approximately two times each, (typical females) listened to three episodes of Hard With Style and drank enough coffee to invigorate the entire vicinity of Noord Brabant.
Soon enough we were flying out of the door and ready to embark on the journey of the very first hard dance festival of the season! Although this Dutch ‘spring season’ resembles an Australian winter better than anything, Rebirth Festival has an incredible ability to replace all ‘winter related emotion’ with shorts, smiles, beer and a big “FUCK YEAH!”
After quite a quick bus trip from my house to ‘the middle of butt-fuck nowhere,’ I pulled out my beloved voice recorder and made the very first entry of the festival season. “12:57 and we just got off the bus and landed in the middle of nowhere! Like what the hell, there’s goats and shit in someone’s front yard, this is seriously some rural shit. We’re following some people who seem to know where they’re going and Sara’s downing a beer. YAY REEEEE-BIRTHH!”
Fucking 9292.nl is such a liar though… It told us that the walk to our desired location would take approximately 12 minutes, yet 22 minutes we were still walking through some god damn farm (bless Brabant).
1:45PM *Tuneboy playing ‘Skinner’ in background* “We are finally in full swing! The line at the entrance was really quick to get through and I managed to smuggle in a flask of vodka! Handbag inside of a backpack… working wonders since 2012. I am seriously ready to get more unleashed than Digital Punk! YEAH! LET’S GET TURNT!”
We head inside of the main ‘Rebirth’ area to catch the remainder of Tuneboy’s set and due to the bi-polar weather, I was ever-thankful to the fact that all of the areas were in tents. Good going Rebirth!
After having a more accurate squiz at the stage design, I was pretty impressed with this year’s theme. “Rise Of The Legions” was the perfect theme to kick off the season, it created a majestic and uplifting atmosphere, a perfect start if you ask me! The design was transcendent throughout the tent with the Greek colosseum styled bars on either side and the trumpets. The design took a more minimalistic approach that utilised the finer details within the stage design and the ever-changing colours to boost the experience.
For the first time, I couldn’t find a word in the English language to describe Rebirth, however in Dutch terminology, it was the definition of “gezellig!”
1:51PM: *TNT & Audiotricz – ‘Ghettoblaster’ playing in the background* “OH MY GOD, THERE’S A GUY WEARINGFUCKING DOUBLE DENIM! WHAT A FUCKING LEGEND. DOUBLE FUCKING DENIM! I think somebody read my festival fashion article. But seriously, this dude is seriously rocking it…. And here I was thinking that I’d be the only person wearing double denim…”
I instantly felt as if I had found my soul-double-denim-brother. Feeling euphoric and unstoppable, I took out my phone to try and get a photo of him. Unfortunately I think that he caught on and was out of my sight ASAP.
At 2:00PM, Mr. Tuneboy stepped down from the stage, setting the bar high for the next act to bless the decks, Bass Modulators. One thing worth mentioning was the brief voice-over introductions before each act, this voice-over was talking about ‘letting go of the struggle of your everyday lives…” Damn fucking straight I was, the Summer was finally here and everybody in the vicinity of the tent was living the dream!
2:01PM: Bass Modulators appeared before my eyes, Villain said “YEAAAAH!” and then: “Life can be so shady, the way some people try to bring you down…”
The beautiful vocals from “Dance No More” by Atmozfears and Audiotricz mixed and edited with “Radiance” and “Music Is My Life”. “FUARRRRR! What a way to open a set! I’m seriously going to cry. I literally am tingling. Radiance is the definition of a fucking masterpiece.” I rejoiced life, opened my arms out wide and felt the music invigorate me.
Bass Modulators seriously cranked it up a notch (or 10) with their damn energetic set that had the crowd going absolutely fucking crazy. The guys wowed their audience and they claimed the stage as theirs for one magical hour, treating us to only the very best music. They played some of their own hits such as their remix of “Big Bang,” “Faster N Further,” and “Rocked Up” with Noisecontrollers.
The guys even got into the spirit by wearing t-shirts with “Let’s get rocked up!” on there. One huge highlight of their set was when they dropped “Scrap Attack” by Headhunterz.
The time was exactly 2:27PM and according to my voice recorder, everyone was “fucking wild!” There’s just something incredibly special about older Heady tracks, I can’t pinpoint it, but wow, the response from the crowd is always larger than life. Another mentionable moment was when the guys played the Alpha2 remix of “Tonight” by Headhunterz, Wildstylez and Noisecontrollers. This classic absolutely blew the roof off and took the crowd by storm. Kudos to Bass Modulators! You guys successfully kicked Rebirth Festival into overdrive and played an incredible set.
Reactivating The Spark…
2:52PM: “Were leaving the main area to catch the last few minutes of Dozer’s set in the ‘Reactivate Area,’ which is probably going to be fucking mental! There’s something about older hardstyle that seriously makes me wet.” (Inappropriate comment #1)
Once we entered the Reactivate Area, I was surprised to see that the majority of the crowd was over the age of 25. I felt like I had just entered a time machine which took me back to the ‘good ole’ days’ where hard dance music was charged with this incredible ability to have people dancing crazily, even without substances. Being 100% sober, I found it so easy to dance and enjoy myself in the Reactivate area which is something that is really lacked when visiting the ‘raw’ stages.
We decided to stick around and catch A-Lusion’s set, an artist who I’ve never experienced live before.
3:03PM: “3 minutes in and I LOVE THIS! Everybody is so hipster in here… Amazing.” The atmosphere in the Reactivate area was incredible. It felt underground and so incredibly special to be able to appreciate the roots of hardstyle.
One thing that I also noticed in the tent was that there was no pretentiousness to be seen. Apart from a few munted people chewing their faces off and looking lost, I could feel the laid back vibes flying around.
I also have to take off my hat to A-Lusion personally. Watching him on stage was an experience; the mixing skills that dude has is incredible and he connects with the audience in such a unique way. No, he doesn’t fist pump like a little pussy and dance around like he owns the god damn stage. No, he doesn’t brutally shout, sweat and dance. No, he doesn’t use his stage presence in a powerful and authoritative manner. A-Lusion looked focussed, putting his passion and energy into the music that he was playing and connected with the crowd on the basis that he was there with us, not standing upon us.
I felt no intimidation here. There were no pretentious people here, everybody in this tent genuinely wanted to listen to and appreciate the older sound. I felt so at home and although I had passively smoked at least 10 cigarettes, I felt reminded of why I love hardstyle so much.
In regards to A-Lusion’s set, the dude tore the place apart with ‘dem 2009 vibes’. He played some renowned classics such as the Headhunterz remix of “Make It Loud” by Blutonium Boy, “A Complex Situation” by Wildstylez and well, fuckloads of reverse bass!
For me personally, at this moment in time, A-Lusion took the cake for the prestigious “Set of the day” title. But who knows, it was still early days – who knew what the nightfall would bring…
4:00PM: “Tuneboy’s back again! Awkward… He opened with a track that A-Lusion had already played but I’ll just let this one slide because I love Tuneboy anyway.” As I celebrated the beloved 2009ish sound, I thought that it would be the appropriate time to kick off some signature drunk journalism and get myself some well deserved wine.
“4:15PM and there’s so many feels with these old Heady tracks! AHHHH! Scantraxx Rootz every fucking time. I want to stay here for the rest of the day!”
Unfortunately I don’t really stick to my word when I suddenly remember that Noisecontrollers was playing in 15 minutes! Which reminds me, another thing that I absolutely loved was the fact that the festival wasn’t a confusing maze.
Once I arrived back to the main tent, I grabbed myself and Sara a sparkling water each and we ran into the crowd, cracked open the flask of vodka and got into party-mode. “4:30PM AND NOISECONTROLLERS FUCKING OPENS WITH HIS 2012 EDIT OF JAYDEE! Fuarrrr such an invigorating start. It’s PACKED now and everybody’s seriously going wild!”
I feel goosebumps appear on my arms and neck as I look around myself at all of the united souls celebrating the gifts of music.
With Noisecontrollers, you never know what to expect, however you know it’s going to be top notch and well, during the initial moments of his set he definitely did not disappoint. If Noisecontrollers knows one thing, its playing a balanced and energetic set.
Playing some of his all time classics such as “Feel So Good,” “Crump,” “So High” and “Down Down,” which I classify as the best track from 2014.
5:05PM and one of the best moments of the day: “DOWN DOWN! WOAHHHHH. Everybody is singing along and swaying and Villain is trying to make everybody get down before the drop but nobody’s really co-operating (Soz Villain).” When the track drops my voice recorder is bombarded with wild screams and cheers.
During Noisecontrollers set the vibe was incredible, people were friendly and basically enjoying the music. Just when I thought that I was going to get through Noisecontrollers’ set without crying, he drops “Live The Moment” by JDX and it was all over then: “Everybody is making out and swaying along and I swear that MC Villain is even going to go behind the decks and embrace Noisecontrollers in a big hug!”
What a captivating and emotional moment right there, even the biggest and buffest looking guys were practically crying of happiness.
At 4:20PM (blaze it), right before we left the tent, Noisecontrollers dropped “So High” and in that moment I decided that he should be crowned ‘Set of the day,” no questions asked. A-Lusion definitely grabbed the 2nd position, but wow, Noisecontrollers put on such an incredibly special show.
We partied our way out the back of the crowd and I began to mumble some drunk shit-talk into my voice recorder: “Were getting into some drunk journalism now. Standard drunk journalism. Everyone’s running all over the place, why is everyone in such a rush?! Fuck, I didn’t realise how drunk I was, I’m gonna chill out on the vodka, unless someone wants to carry me home because I’m the most TURNT MF around. Were walking into the Rebellion tent to watch Phuture Noize and they’re playing ‘Terrordome’ YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY.”
Yeah, I seriously realise that I’m a lightweight with alcohol, but at 163CM what else am I to do?
Anyway, we head into the Rebellion area to watch Phuture Noize and being under the impression that we will be treated to loads of stuff from their upcoming album “Phuture Propaganda,” I am instantly disappointed at the fact that they are playing a bunch of raw crap.
I’m honestly such a huge fan of their music and their unique style but as soon as they played “Open The Gates” I felt saddened. They played a small handful of their new music and the crowd was too fucked up to even respond to it, however when they played the cheap raw hits, the crowd went absolutely mental – talk about closed-minded.
To be honest, I never like writing negative things in reviews but the differences in the crowds between the main area and the Rebellion area was almost painful. I felt like such a fish out of water in that crowd and I felt pretty sorry for Phuture Noize too. I understand that compared to their signature ‘Phuture Propaganda’ live-act this was a DJ set and that they had to keep the crowd dancing and engaged, but what is wrong with their individual and unique style in their own tracks?
With their new music, I would have actually liked to see them on the non-raw stage – their music isn’t completely ‘raw’ nor ‘cheesy’ and there should really be more appreciation for this ‘middle-way’ sound.
After their set I went backstage to have a quick chat with the guys and they enlightened me with the following statement: “We played after Chain Reaction who was playing at 158BPM, so it was kind of hard to keep the crowd in to watch us if we didn’t play music that they would go crazy to. It would have been nice to play our whole album but it was also a DJ set and sometimes you just have to work with the crowd.”
(**Meanwhile High Voltage playing over 160BPM in the background**)
In my opinion, I love a well-produced raw track every now and again but there needs to be a change sooner or later. Cheesy is boring and extremely raw and fast is a bit hard to emotionally connect with. In that moment, I realised that there needs to be a middle way that people can enjoy in a more laid back sense and this may be why the ‘2009 sound’ is making a huge comeback, because it’s not raw or euphoric – it’s just hardstyle.
That was the one and only negative thing that had come to me throughout the day so let’s get back to the festival!
I wandered around to the main stage whilst D-Block & S-te-Fan were playing their remix of “Beautiful World” and saw a very familiar face chilling backstage.
Max Enforcer looked and sounded so excited to get up onto that stage and kick off his festival season. After making the killer anthem “Rise Up,” for this year’s edition, his partial ownership of Rebirth was something that really excited me. I wished Max Enforcer luck and headed out to enjoy the rest of D-Block & S-te-Fan’s set.
From what I caught of their set, the powerhouse duo played some of their greatest such as “Rebel” and “Louder” with Rebourne, which absolutely blew the roof off. The lights started to intensify and the entire tent was packed to the brim – it was incredible!
“6:30PM and YAY, MAX ENFORCER TIME!!” Being one of my all-time favourite producers, I had high hopes for his set and although I was pretty fucking tipsy, this was something that I’d remember forever. When he emerged onto the stage the crowd went fucking berserk and when he opened with “Journey,” well that was some next level shit.
“6:45PM I’m in the bathroom and fu—OMG RISE UP!!” I run from the bathrooms at full speed back to the stage only to find these huge ass glow-sticks everywhere! Seriously I disappear for 2-3 minutes and come back and the main area has transformed into a mad party-house! Dat anthem tho… So majestic and fitting to the theme.
I run through the crowd, dancing wildly with random people as I make my way back to the VIP deck. Watching Max Enforcer on stage was a vision. Judging by the huge smile on his face, he seemed so genuinely happy and proud to play at Rebirth and showcase his anthem in the wide open.
I saw so many people on shoulders, flags from such a variety of countries riding high in the air and felt united with everyone in that tent. Even though I was surrounded by a fuckload of strangers who’s names I didn’t know, every soul joined together to celebrate the Summer, the music and the lifestyle.
“Quarter past seven and Max Enforcer is playing ‘Gold’ with the vocals from ‘Lights Go Out’ and I kind of wish that it was the original, but whatever. Everyone’s still going wild with these glow-sticks and I’m drunk.” I was starting to get anxious because time was edging towards the end of Max Enforcer’s set and he still hadn’t played “On The Go” yet. “IF HE DOESN’T PLAY ON THE GO I’M GOING TO CRY.” I yell to my voice recorder. Seriously “On The Go” is like the anthem of my life.
7:25PM: Warning, the next 40 seconds of voice recordings were a stream of sounds and words that didn’t make sense. “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHOMGOMTIEHUFEBWGIYWFBYGWFDUWFGDJHWVJFVERVEJGFEFUIBEFIEUNFINRFINERIGWYUEEDUBH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ON THE GO.”
There is a god, and he loves me.
In my highly obliterated state, I actually made a pretty precise point in relation to “On The Go.”
**TUU TUU TUU TUU TUU TUU TUU TUTUTUTU** I begin telling a story about what “On The Go” reminds me of:
“We’re going into incognito mode now and I’m going in to rob a house. I’ve broken in through the back door and I’m being all sly so I don’t wake anyone up…”
**breaks out in ‘Lose My Mind’ vocals and I am instantaneously devastated**
**On The Go comes back again, I feel better and continue with my story**
“I’m going into the room and am looking for something cool to steal, then I spot a 3 million dollar ring and I’m like FUARRRR NICE RING. I reach out and go to grab the ring then suddenly…”
**Right before climax, everyone around me is laughing by now**
“THE ALARM GOES OFF AND I BEGIN RUNNING DOWN THE STAIRS AS QUICKLY AS I CAN, CLENCHING THE RING FOR DEAR LIFE. I run outside and jump into the getaway car and we’re speeding down the road then the police come and I jump out of the car and start running and jump into a bush.”
I must have been drunker than I realised, but seriously, next time you listen to “On The Go,” just picture a robber going into incognito mode and stealing something – it seriously fits!
I was so exhausted from re-enacting an entire robbery so I cool things off for a little while when Frontliner comes on and opens with “Lose The Style” and follows up with “Galaxies Collide” Everyone’s in happy-mode and everybody loves Barry.
7:46PM “Somehow I ended up back in the Reactivate tent watching Josh & Wesz and everybody in here is going wild!” Now that daytime was being replaced with the night’s darkness, the lights were going wild in the little tent. We decided to wonder around a little bit before returning back to the main area to catch the rest of Fronliner’s magic.
“The time is 8:17PM and we are back watching Frontliner and we are TURNT. Drunk journalism 4eva.” Although I had a wristband to access the top VIP deck, Sara didn’t, so we generated a plan which involved Sara simply walking up there and showing the wristband she already had. Security guard didn’t really care by this stage but that worked to our advantage.
8:24PM: Frontliner drops “Shock” with Zany and the lights and atmosphere are slowly intensifying before he brings his set to an all time high by playing “Magic” with B-Front. If only B-Front appeared on stage too and they wore those Hard Bass space outfits, that would have been the cherry on top of the cake.
8:30PM Next up is Hard Driver and I’m pretty keen to see what our token Belgian brings to the decks. Playing the soundtrack from Knockout 2015, “Front Row,” followed by the Hard Bass 2014 anthem “Exploration” the crowd is cranked up a notch and the vibes are kickin’ into overdrive.
“9:09PM Hard Driver plays ‘Crank It Up’ and I’m making screeches for fun.”
We were having the time of our lives, we were surrounded by great music, a great production and oh, we weren’t freezing our asses off! Hard Driver was the perfect artist to go in between Frontliner and Digital Punk, he slowly bumped up the intensity and made it perfectly acceptable for Digital Punk to open with “Rebel To The Grave.”
By 9:30PM we were seriously ready to get more unleashed than Digital Punk and the music began to get brutal, so we decided to grab some food before heading into the crowd for a dance. Sara bought fries and apparently they were nice and hot and very tasty – kudos for good food! By the end of the day it’s pretty hard to offer suitable food options that don’t taste like a soggy foot, so we were extremely impressed with the fact that there was still a variety of food available and that it was still fresh and hot.
9:55PM: After emerging into the crowd again, we started offering people in the crowd fries, but I don’t think that people were very hungry for food at that time. As the music got harder, people danced and partied hard. There were legs and arms wildly waving in the air and zero fucks were given! This proceeding of artists throughout the day was perfect and I really enjoyed the line-up and set times in the main area.
One huge highlight of the set was when Digital Punk played “Seven” by E-Force, which was single handily the biggest raw track from 2014. Nowhere near the top of my list, however watching people dance to “Seven” was seriously fun.
Next up and the last artist that we saw was the mighty Radical Redemption. Although his music isn’t my instant ‘go-to,’ watching him towards the end of the night is such an experience. His stage performance is brutal, entertaining and he really does have his fans engaged.
In the last few weeks, I had a growing appreciation for Radical Redemption when I blasted it as payback to my annoying and loud housemates, so by now I was pretty familiar with his music. The overwhelming kicks blew the tent up and tore through the crowd like never before.
The response that Radical Redemption generated from the crowd was overwhelming and his live-act was really a great end to our night.
Unfortunately due to the public transport situations and last trains home, we were unable to catch Adaro’s set, who was an artist I really wanted to see too.
“11:01PM and FUARRRRRRRR WHAT A DAY!! I love festival season and cannot wait to come back again tomorrow!” I yelled into my voice recorder as Sara and I ran for the bus back home.
Although my muscles were aching and I was totally not used to dancing all day, I could not have been happier to kick the festival season off with a bang! Kudo’s to Rebirth Festival for hosting an unforgettable event, the day ran perfectly and well, “long live the festival season!”