It was once again that time of year to head into the desert for America’s largest rave, and most importantly for The Hard Data crew, the largest hard dance lineup of the year in one place. EDC 2017 seemed this year to be “by ravers, for ravers.” Though the attendance this year was not as big as last year’s, it frankly was just the right amount of people to have a really good time for all the money that one might spend going to EDC. The line-ups on all the stages were solid and one was constantly confronted with the dilemma of “who do I want to see more?” as there were great acts constantly. The Basscon lineup, however, was stacked with some of the largest names in the hard dance business and featured something for everyone. Euphoric DJs like Wasted Penguinz and Da Tweekaz, to legendary names like Isaac, Brannan Heart and D-Block & S-Te-Fan, to rawstyle pioneers like Radical Redemption and Gunz For Hire. Plus! Hardcore every night by masters Angerfist, Mad Dog and AniMe, and Miss K8!
DAY 1, June 16, 2017 A.D.
This EDC may have been the hottest one on record, with temperatures remaining in the 90 degrees plus range even at the blackest of night. Fortunately, there was no shortage of free, filtered water to take the edge off the heat. We knew we would spend the majority of our weekend at Basscon, but being that there is so many things to see and do at EDC we agreed that we would explore the rest of the fest that weekend as well. Walking into the festival on Friday night, however, our excitement overshadowed the extreme heat and we were untroubled as we made our way through the grounds to get our first peek at the Basscon Wasteland stage. We were immediately greeted with the pulsing vibrations of Hardstyle basslines hitting our bodies and it was as though the speakers surrounded us and the music enveloped our bodies. The stage was set to resemble ancient Egyptian ruins, and its centerpiece featured a massive scarab beetle or an Egyptian-bird of some sort that generated all sort of hieroglyphs, but it was in the “Wasteland.” Like, somehow in the dystopian future there is a resurgence of Ancient Egypt. The stage stood over the crowd with its wings outstretched and was packed with pyrotechnics, lasers and LED screens flashing colorful lightshows at the audience.
Upon our arrival, TNT (aka Technoboy ‘N’ Tuneboy) had just wrapped up their set of their signature Italian hardstyle, complete with anthemic melodies and reverse-bass basslines, and it was then Atmozfears’ timeslot. While we have had the chance to see Atmozfears in the past, this weekend we wanted to make sure to make his set a priority. Atmozfears’ music career has been on the fast lane in recent years and so it was no surprise that his set delivered a diverse and entertaining mix of some of hardstyle’s biggest tracks including Noisecontrollers new track Spirit of Hardstyle and his iconic track with Code Black, Accelerate. Towards the end of his set, it was time for a water refill and explore other parts of the festival before D-Block and S-Te-Fan came on.
We elected to check out Astrix at the Dreamstate’s Quantum Valley stage for some psytrance. Trance has a history with Hardstyle music and it was fun to experience a different perspective of the ravers and to groove to their music. We then circled back through Kinetic Field and gawked at the incredible mainstage, featuring a goddess with her arms outstretched and two giant owls on either side of her. It was incredible to see the amazing artistry and meaning Insomniac had put into this concept and it translated well.
We then made our way back to the Basscon stage and Atmozfears wrapped up his set and it was time for D-Block and S-Te-Fan. Brandon’s bud from Boston, Matt had never seen D-Block and S-Te-Fan and he was very excited, and for good reason… that set was packed with incredible tracks from beginning to end! One of their favorite tracks (that was unfortunately was absent from their set, however) was Sound of the Thunder. Hopefully we will get the chance to hear them play it at a future show. In addition, it was during their set, that the main firework show enveloped the festival grounds. The fireworks and the classic tracks D-Block and S-Te-Fan were playing reminded us of the reason we fell in love with Hardstyle in the first place. As D-Block and S-Te-Fan finished their set we agreed that it was time for more water and to explore more of the festival before coming back to Basscon for the end of Code Black, and of course then… Angerfist!
We made our way through the thick crowd getting down to Zomboy at Basspod. Then, decided to check out the harder side of techno at the Neon Garden, where we caught Nicole Moudaber b2b with Chris Liebing, since recently Brandon has been getting into techno to supplement his hardcore addiction. While their set was not quite as hard as schrantz, the dark techno sound was a nice change of pace from what we are used to hearing. After that short break we made it back to Basscon in time to watch the end of Code Black’s set, and then it was time for Angerfist! It was at the moment the hardcore started that we saw something INCREDIBLE happen – the crowd poured into the Basscon stage.
It was packed from shoulder to shoulder for hardcore! In classic Angerfist fashion, he started the crowd up with chant and repeat “when I say ANGER you say FIST…” and from there, the surprises kept coming. Miss K8 joined Angerfist on stage briefly as they played Masters of Hardcore and Dominator anthems. Then, unexpectedly, MC Villain got on the mic and reminded everyone that we were witnessing the number one hardcore DJ in the world. EDC night 1 closed with an explosion of adrenaline and at the end of Angerfist’s set we headed back to our hotel to recharge our batteries for the day we had ahead of us.
DAY 2, June 17, 2017 A.D.
Saturday we woke up with a hunger that needed tamed. Matt and Brandon elected to meet with their friend Miguel at the hotel buffet and fuel our bodies for the day ahead. From the buffet we left to Gabberfest, a hardcore festival off the strip that is held every year during EDC weekend. DJ Deadly Buda, Mindcontroller and Lost Boy were scheduled to play at Gabberfest as The Hard Data DJ team, so we went to rock out in the 100+ degree weather. Then, we made our way back to the hotel to get ready for EDC night 2.
Our ride fell through for Day 2, so we began weighing our options between the Park and Ride, or taking an Uber as we walked back into the hotel to get changed. It was at this time that an EDC miracle happened for us.
We were walking through the hotel lobby and we bumped into a young couple who were dressed in war paint and rave gear, they were clearly on their way to EDC as well. After a short conversation with them we mentioned our predicament and they didn’t even hesitate to offer us a ride with them. Our ride with Caesar and Sarah was pleasant and it reminded me what raving is all about: taking care of one another, a core principle that tends to get lost in today’s scene. It was nice to meet and bond with likeminded individuals and we will forever be grateful to their generosity.
We thanked our new friends and walked into Night 2 of EDC. We made it to the Basscon stage just in time to catch Italian rebel, Zatox, throw down some bangers, along with his friend and MC Dave Revan before it was time for the legend, DJ Isaac, to take the stage. As I enjoyed the show, Matt and I met up with some other friends of ours in the crowd, Dan and Sandy, and we came came up with a game-plan on how to explore some other parts of the festival. We had all seen Isaac and Frontliner multiple times and decided that we would go to Cosmic Meadow to check out Porter Robinson, and come back to Basscon for the end of Frontliner’s set before Gunz For Hire. As we walked towards Cosmic Meadow the crowd got thick with people, it was clear that Porter Robinson was “the place to be” and we decided to head to the top of the bleachers for his set.
From the front of the stage, to the top of the bleachers thousands of people had gathered for the amazing production of anime-themed and static Technicolor visuals of the stage, and Porter’s melodic electro pop house music. It reminded us of the size of the crowds I’ve experienced at European festivals and it made us wonder if there would ever be a following like this for hardstyle and hardcore, or if the music we loved would remain so separated from the mainstream to ever be accessable to the American audience.
We wrapped up our rest break and made our way back to Basscon for the end of Frontliner’s set before it was time for DJ Ran-D and Adaro’s live act, Gunz For Hire where they unleashed their new performance on the crowd – codename: Armed and Dangerous. Their set included several classic Gunz For Hire tracks like Kings of the Underground, Executioner Style, No Mercy, and Bolivia, and even treated us to some new music like Welcome to Deathrow and Pussy Lover. Gunz For Hire closed out their set and the onslaught of rawstyle continued with Radical Redemption. Radical’s set was probably my favorite Hardstyle set of the weekend, featuring rough rawstyle and he even ended his set with a blistering hardcore section to a manic crowd, including his track with Destructive Tendencies – Bring us Some. By the end of Radical’s set we were ready for another break and decided to check out Oliver Heldens at Circuit Grounds, the last stage we hadn’t been to yet for the weekend.
We sat off to the side of the stage and even laid back to rest, along with a dozen or so other tired ravers. EDC has had its share of casualties from the extreme heat over the years and it was reassuring to see security and Ground Control personnel come up to us to make sure that we were ok, and even offered us bottles of water. With as many people that were there it proved to me that they genuinely do their best to make sure everyone has a good time while trying to keep everyone there safe.
We left our rest area and made our way back to Basscon through the chill-out area by all the vendors. We made it back in time to catch the end of Toneshifterz before closing out night 2 with Dj Mad Dog b2b with DJ AniMe. Their set showcased their unique Hardcore Italia sound and featured some of their signature tracks including Dog Fight and Cracks – the crowd was loving it! After discussing with amongst ourselves we came to the conclusion that Basscon Area has the hottest babes at EDC hands down. Our friend Matt even went as far as to say that some of those ladies could out-hakken himself and even the dexterous and limber writing crew at THD. We left the festival at sunrise and made our way back to the hotel to rest up for Day 2 of Gabberfest and Night 3 of EDC.
DAY 3, June 18, 2017 A.D.
Sunday afternoon we spend another day in the 100+ degree weather at Gabberfest and decided to hit the buffet again to fuel up. Apparently, we hit the buffet a little too hard and fell deep into a food-coma in the hotel room. By the time we woke up it was time to head to EDC and we got there around midnight where it was a toasty 90 degrees. We arrived at the Basscon stage to see the end of Noisecontrollers’ set and just in time for Da Tweekaz with MC D on the mic. Their unique style of goofy melodies was refreshing and even saw Villain in the crowd enjoying himself. During their set, Da Tweekaz even gave a special preview of their new happy-hardcore-influenced “Tweekacore” sound, which they would play at Defqon 1 the following weekend.
Following Da Tweekaz, it was time to a break and grab a cocktail. As we picked up our spiked Electric Lemonade we decided to watch Basscon from a different perspective headed to the chillout area to watch Brennan Heart’s set livestreamed on the LED TV screens. Brennan Heart had the crowd bumping non-stop, and it was only from the perspective of overhead cameras that we could truly appreciate as a whole the bouncing crowd from end to end of the area. While watching we made conversation with others who gathered by the LED TV screen and met a man, Steve, who had traveled all the way from Scotland. We have visited EDC many times before so it was refreshing to get the perspective of someone who had travel internationally. While we talked we “somehow” got on the subject of hardcore. Apparently, there is a big hardcore scene in Scotland. One of Brandon’s pals, Bass Destruction, plays hardcore in Scotland and Steve said he had been to some of the Twisted Darkside parties he had played at! Apparently, it’s a very a small world and I made a mental note that I would have to visit sometime and party with them both.
We said our farewells to Steve and made our way back to Basscon for Wildstylez and MC Villain. Wildstylez’s set was loaded with a lot of classic tracks and it was a trip down Hardstyle-memory-lane all over again. Lastly, Villain reminded us that Wildstylez was half of Project One (Headhunterz and Wildstylez) and it gave me hope that one day we would be able to witness Project one for ourselves here in the US. After we made some noise “for the very, very, very last time”, (as urged by Villain) for Wildstylez, we closed out the weekend with the goddess of hardcore herself, Miss K8, who showed no mercy. Her track selection proved to be particularly brutal for a crowd of people who had been raving for 3 days straight in the desert heat. This did not stop anyone from making the most of their final moments of the festival and we witnessed the people dancing themselves to exhaustion at sunrise in 95 degree heat!
Our weekend consisted of exploring the amazing sights and sounds of the festival, and while we spent most of our time at the Basscon stage, of course, the weekend was nothing short of incredible! The lineup consisted of some of the biggest names in the business and there was more hardcore at EDC this year than any of recent memory, the faithful being treated to Angerfist, Miss K8, Mad Dog and AniMe. Insomniac’s continued dedication to grow the Basscon scene is leading to higher quality production and larger crowds that ever before, and we look forward to what the future has in store for us!
By Brandon “CabZ” Caballero, Joel “Deadly Buda” Bevacqua, Alvaro “Seppuku” Manjarrez, and Matt “Matty Muscles” from Mass.