Q-Dance @ Palace Nightclub, Melbourne (21/03/08)
Wed 26th Mar, 2008 Event Reviewsin
A true hardstyle fan’s ultimate dream is to travel to the Netherlands and immerse themselves in the life-changing experience that is a proper Q-Dance event, like Qlimax, In Qontrol or Defqon 1. The biggest and best names in the business call the Netherlands home, and unfortunately for a lot of Australians, it’s a long way to travel and a fantasy that’s out of our reach. However, on the 21st of March 2008, we were all about to live the dark and maniacally exciting, first-time ever tour in our home town with Q-dance bringing their show across the globe. After progressively pushing out their harder image, Killrockstar/Pharmacy conjunctively worked on this party and it comes as no surprise that they didn’t spend much time and effort on it. Q-dance parties are renowned for being large scale, detailed nights featuring incredible light and laser shows, fireworks, flames and dancers within massive arenas. What we got though seemed to be just another Pharmacy party with, luckily, a stellar line up.
My crew and I entered Palace right on 10pm, and as we all rushed in to see how the main room was set up, we all were instantly disappointed. A huge inflated Q-dance logo sat behind the decks, and on either side of them were two columns of plasma screens displaying some lackluster animations. That was it. Coloured lights span around the stage, projecting beams onto two massive mirror balls on the roof, dotting the room with specks of colour. Four large smoke machines rotated on the front of the stage, spewing out jets of thick, steamy smoke whenever the VDJ saw fit. But that was it… And it was really disappointing because we all know that KillRockstar/Q-Dance are capable of so much doing better. Melbourne’s hardstyle icon Hellraiser was meant to open the main room, however Sydney’s Nik Fish was DJing instead. The Palace was already filling up quickly, and the room knew Hellraiser was late again. Nik Fish was loosely playing some tech trance such as Mac & Mac’s Rippin Base until finally, 15 minutes later Hellraiser showed up to take the floor.
Hardstyle fans in Australia knew that Nik and Hellraiser used to be two of the best around, but at Q-dance we saw otherwise. Hellraiser had the ability to dictate the crowd with his air-fisting and trademark headbanging, yet instead we were all shocked at his messy transitions and awkward track progression. Nik and Hellraiser then proceeded to play versus, which threw any chance of stability out of the window. They weren’t afraid to drop massive bombs to redeem themselves such as Stephy Street Spirit, a mash of Schall/Coole Sau, Evanti Just A Phase, The Raiders _Miss Kidman on a Cruise _ and DJ Isaac’s In My Veins, which got us rocking out. However, Nik quickly killed the vibe by poorly scratching over tracks then scrappily mixing in some jumpstyle tune that created confusion among the onlookers. What went wrong with these guys? Was 10pm too early? Perhaps they just don’t care anymore? If so, it’s a real shame because there was a lot of talent there.
As 12pm approached, we breathed a sigh of relief knowing that the mess was coming to an end, and Alex Kidd and Kutski from the UK were about to begin. By this point, the main room was full of people amped up for some quality that the UK boys delivered from the word go. Kidd is a true showman in every sense of the word, stepping up to the decks proudly and violently gesturing with his arms in time to the beat to Insane Clown Posse’s Jump Around. Even though he was a little loose at times, Kidd was inventive, creative and energetic with his mixing style. He and Kutski continuously were layering, cutting and sampling incoming tracks when they were mixing, and this really created an exciting atmosphere. Kutski’s reserved manner and perfectly tight skills complimented Kidd’s performance well, and his insanely good scratching over Showtek’s Scratch was captivating and inspiring. They were a little Showtek happy, playing several of their productions such as Raver, their remix of Wonderful Days, We Live for the Music, Southstyler’s Wicked Generation, and Walt’s Walt Street. Overall it was a very entertaining and enjoyable set that shaped the night into something that felt like a Q-Dance party. One of hardstyle’s most popular MC’s, MC DV8 walked out onto the stage and the crowd kept their eyes on him, and followed all of his instructions. As he got us to cheer for Kidd and Kutski, we knew it was time for one of the most sought-out dj’s to play next.
It was 1am and we hadn’t seen one laser yet (asides from the red pointer one that a security guard had to indicate when people were smoking inside – nice!), until Brennan Heart took over the decks. This is when things started to get seriously Q-Dance, and the anticipation from the crowd could be felt when all the lights dropped. A deep, booming voice welcomed us to Q-Dance and Brennan Heart in the darkness, when all of a sudden as the first beat dropped in, the smoke machine cannons fired their jets of smoke, silver spurts of streamer shot from the stage into the crowd, and super-bright lasers showered us with their colours (the same lasers seen at Airport). If this didn’t send shivers down your spine, then his track selection would have. Smashing it up with A-lusion’s Veritas, the pace was pushed up a little as things got harder and harder. Clouded by my own personal judgment, I was dubious about his set, but I genuinely was impressed by his skill and ability. He played a lot of his own productions such as One Blade, Revival X, Get Wasted, Power of The Mind, and Remember Remember which kept the floor moving as this united, furious collection that were loving every second.
Next up was the only live act in the main room, the famous and talented trio by the name of the Donkey Rollers. These three boys, Jowan, Zany and MC DV8 are no doubt three of the strongest producers/performers in hardstyle, and when all they are on stage we can be sure that we are going to hear one ruthless, smashingly hard set to get you begging for more. A lot of their tracks feature the vocals from MC DV8, so he lividly sang the vocals for Hardstyle Rockers, Followers, and was joined by Zany for Atrocity. The crowd went absolutely nuts throughout the entire set, and I can honestly say I lost my voice at this point from yelling so hard. They also dropped Fusion of Sound, their stormer Silver Bullet and two new tracks named Thunderbeats 07 and Lompe shit. When I heard the latter two, my jaw fell to the floor. So devastatingly hard, and so perfectly amazing. Their set was short and sweet, yet it managed to completely whomp the punters off their feet. Next up on the stage came Luna, who demurely walked up to the table only to play a set which was nearly identical to his Grindhouse set last year in Melbourne.
The one and only Zany was due to take the reigns, and instantly the dancefloor filled up again as we all knew his set would be the hardest and toughest out of all. MC DV8 came out to introduce him, and that’s when the carnage began. The familiarity of his opening track Pure had everyone in a frenzy, and then all of a sudden he dropped bomb after banging bomb. His own productions Widowmaker, Sky High (Technoboy remix), and Euphoria dominated on the loud system, however his mixing let him down at times. He also exposed us to some exclusively new tracks including a Zanza Labs track Biological Chemistry, Shreek, and Digital Punk. These tracks were so hard that a lot of the shufflers didn’t know what to do with themselves, a lot of them just stood there in awe, fisting the air. As his set came to a close, a massive fan approached MC DV8 on the side of the stage, requesting their track Distorted, and to our surprise and excitement, they happily complied and DV8 sung his heart out. The brilliantly tuned sound system pounded the tunes out loudly and relentlessly, with the bass shaking the floorboards. Within moments the lovely lady Dana gracefully took over, and was introduced as the ‘Queen of Hardstyle’.
Quickly grabbing our attention with The KGB’s track Fahrenheit, Dana seamlessly played the best and tightest set of the night. Her track selection indicated that she stuck with what she knew, playing older and better known tunes throughout. Dana’s stage presence can be likened to Melbourne’s own DJ Jewelz’s style; they are modest yet enthralling to watch because of their skill and impeccable track progression. Following on from Fahrenheit, she dropped her own tune Back In Time which is undoubtedly of one hardstyle’s biggest anthems. Herein we heard D-Block & S-te-fan’s Ride With Uz, Showtek’s Early Sounds, ASYS Cheers (Zany Remix), Builder’s Her Voice and *Wild Motherf*cker’s* Fother Mucker. With a set like this, it was easy to say that she had Melbourne eating from the palm of her hand and I personally had a new role model to look up to. Interestingly enough, it was nearly 6am and the venue was still quite full. The Q-Dance experience was too electrifying for many ticket holders, but the night was coming to a close, and a true veteran in hard music was lined up next to show us what he had.
Looking tired, The Prophet was going to take us on a trip down nustyle lane. Nustyle isn’t heavily exposed in Melbourne, so there were mixed reactions during such tracks as Frontliner’s Tuduu mashed with the german mix of Pure, Nasty Boyz’s Angel, and SMD’s Just Like You. Interspersed with this he played the new Headhunterz track Subsonic as well as Scope DJs Rock Hypnotic. The Prophet appeared to be mixing with little effort and somehow managed to stay tight the entire time, so perhaps this is the result of DJing for over 15 years. Fans still danced on the floor, but again there were some who weren’t sure of how to react to the tracks. As his set came to the end, MC DV8 jumped back onstage, only to announce that it was time for some hardcore. I was hoping for some really dark, gabberish hardcore but he stuck with tunes that had happier melodies. The excitement began to die down, and the crowd began to thin out.
Our Q-Dance experience was nearly over, and personally, I was really satisfied with the music and congratulate the DJs who put in the time, effort and energy into giving us an unforgettable night. Even though hardstyle has such a negative stigma in the dance music scene right now, it is evident that there are talented producers and DJs who still do it because they love it. Let’s hope for another tour in 2009! Great work Q-dance!