Weekend Warriors returned to the holy grounds in Biddinghuizen with primal energy and experienced four days of madness at Defqon.1 this year.
With Defqon.1 2022 offering 15 stages with jaw-dropping stage production and each hosting performances by artists of designated hard dance sub-genres, the festival has a long-standing reputation of ranking as the largest hard dance music festival. Like many other European events, an artist is annually chosen to produce the festival anthem and the festival premieres an astounding new mainstage production. This year, Ghost Stories (D-Block and S-te-fan and Evelyn Bakker) were Q-dance‘s anthem pick with their track, “Primal Energy (Haunted Grounds).”
After plenty of anticipation for the first in-person edition of Defqon.1 since their hiatus due to the pandemic, nearly 100,000 weekend warriors from over 100 different countries make their trek to the mecca of the harder styles in Biddinghuizen, The Netherlands this year. The 20th edition of the festival followed the past two years of virtual streams of Defqon.1 At Home, where Q-dance brought their show-stopping production to viewers’ living rooms.
In the midst of these at-home shows, an additional day was added to the festival and weekend warriors had the option to upgrade their tickets to experience “4 Days of Madness”. Compared to Defqon.1 2018, there are new experiences and more stages offered, in addition to a larger lineup due to the added day of the festival. Many who had purchased packages and tickets for the 2020 edition also held on for the fesitval’s return.
Transportation was a mess before the festival began due to national bus driver shortages.
The venue of the festival is reachable by car or by shuttle, and Q-dance offers shuttles both internationally and domestically. Unfortunately due to the shortage of Dutch bus drivers and Q-dance switching travel companies, this caused immense confusion among attendees and an overwhelming amount of emails that Q-dance travel support received. Between reservation cancellations, attendees not receiving shuttle vouchers, and travel support’s delayed responses the tone set for the event was not positive for those using shuttles.
After several back and forth email conversations with travel support, my shuttle situation was relieved and I was finally on my way to the venue. Upon arrival and dragging all belongings to comfort camping at the farthest end of the festival campgrounds, check-in went efficiently and my group was welcomed with a complimentary meal and champagne. The comfort camping area offers additional amenities such as massages, a food and drink bar, hot tubs, and more. In addition, all campers have access to the Warrior Gym, The Big Chill, and standard campground food and bar stands.
After settling into the safari tent, tokens were needed. Tokens are used as festival currency and 1 token is roughly the equivalent of €3.60, which had increased from the previous edition in 2019, when 1 token was roughly €2.86. Added to the 2022 edition, the Recycle Token system was used to prevent plastic cup waste, especially on the grounds. This token, or an empty can or cup, covers the deposit fee of a half token on drinks at the bar.
The Gathering started the party on the first day at the Blue stage with D-Block and S-te-fan and the Black stage with Partyraiser.
D-Block and S-te-fan opened their set with their Defqon.1 2022 anthem after the long, built-up anticipation of three years. The crowd’s reaction after the long postponement was more than amplified when the production gradually increased the sound and lights in the atmosphere. In the midst of the Gathering, friends who had not seen each other in years finally reunited, drinks were toasted, and attendees danced like there was no tomorrow. The first evening of the event set the tone for an incredibly memorable weekend.
Nosferatu and Miss K8 continue the party at the Black stage, and Miss K8 debuted her unreleased hard-hitting collaboration with D-sturb, who was set to play at the Blue later that night. Among the Flugel shots toasted and Desperados beers consumed, Adaro, D-sturb, and Deadly Guns brought the power to end an amazing night at the venue. To close the night at the UV stage, a mini-end show with fireworks drew in thousands of the warriors in Thursday’s attendance.
After the Gathering, most attendees didn’t stay in and tuck into bed. Partying continues at the Defqon.1 campground sites with food stands and bars remaining open, The Wasted Lands silent discos pumping beats, and the fun house allowing weekend warriors to maneuver its obstacles through the early hours of the following morning.
Fresh Friday unveiled the new design of the Red stage, the main stage of the festival, with Sefa’s Opening Ceremony.
A phoenix perfectly represented the Primal Energy theme, the life-force energy that moves throughout the universe. The Red stage was packed from front to back for Sefa’s opening set, which anti-parallels his closing set on the Red in the last edition.
Another set that was packed front to back was the Ode to Delete. Earlier this year, this legend in rawstyle passed away and other large festivals he is typically on the roster at, such as Intents Festival, have alloted a timeslot to play his tracks in tribute. “Payback” was played as the final track of the set, his most well-known song featuring MC Tha Watcher, a track included in several sets since its release in 2018.
“Simulation” by Vertile and Rebelion rose to be one of this year’s most played tracks at Defqon.1.
Including this track in his set at the Blue, Vertile performed a stand-out set on Friday. Rising in the rawstyle scene, his other well-known track “On My Own” was played several times throughout Defqon.1. Vertile’s outstanding set contained unreleased tracks and his rawstyle hits all worthy of kickrolling, hakking, and belting out the lyrics. Another standout set that closed the Magenta stage with Rawstyle Classics: DJ Thera turned back time and showed us the origins of the rawstyle sub-genre. Closing the Red was the emotionally-gearing spotlight set of Sub Zero Project, who opened with their recent track “Renaissance of Rave” off the album of its same name.
Ending the night at the Blue stage, Roughstate Recruits hosted the Fresh Friday after-party. Drawing in the night owls in hardstyle were growing stars such as Voidax, Deluzion, The Saints, and Radianze. Throughout the set, rawstyle was the main sub-genre played and the party went on until 1AM. Akin to the previous night, attendees continued to host their own campsite gatherings into the early hours of the following day after the venue shut its gates.
One of the largest gatherings at the festival is Defqon.1’s renowned Power Hour, which drew in over 60,000 attendees and ended with one of the biggest editions of the Left-Right dance yet.
This year’s helicopters directed the Weekend Warriors in Left-Right direction and, in the midst of Power Hour, performed an air trick show. Traditionally, inflatables and pool noodles are thrown into the crowd throughout the hour, and this year over 4,500 were thrown into the crowd.
Set to play their first set on the main stage, Rebelion opened with their hit track on their Acid Reign label, “City Lights”. This unforgettable set contained unreleased tracks, hits with singer Micah Martin like “Never Back Down”, and ended with their uptempo collaboration with The Dark Horror and Dimitri K. Following on the Yellow stage, Dimitri K brought the high-speed heat with uptempo bangers like his hit edit of “Seven” by E-force.
Ending the day, the world-renowned Defqon.1 2022 end show exploded with lasers and synchronized fireworks opening with the 2020 Primal Energy anthem by Ghost Stories and debuting unreleased tracks such as “Transform” by Sound Rush. Thousands of warriors gathered to experience a show which reminded many of how beautiful the Hardstyle scene and hard dance music are. Succeeding a magnificent show, the Scantraxx after-party at the Blue stage wrapped up the ongoing party inside the venue.
Sunday Funday wrapped up with a ritual.
Kicking off the day, an exclusive experience only offered to Dediqated members, the brunch at the Red commenced mid-morning Sunday. Dediqated membership is a paid subscription that includes perks such as add-on experiences, merch raffle entries, and exclusive raffles for experiences with Defqon.1 2022 artists. The brunch at the empty Red stage consisted of champagne and coffee, sandwiches, eggs, and Dutch pancakes. Complimentary STËLZ drinks were distributed amongst brunch attendees at the finale of the experience. Those who attended had the chance to take pictures at an empty main stage as well.
Switching up the UV and Black stages, Desperados hosted the indoor stage UV that had been the Black stage on previous days.
The new UV stage brought talents in the Freestyle sub-genre such as Mark with a K. The Open Airbed Concert kicked off the day at the new Black stage, followed by Audiofreq‘s exclusive hardcore set with bubble machines blowing into the crowd. Drawing in thousands at the Black, a legendary set by Angerfist and Deadly Guns brought high-speed fire to the new outdoor stage, reminiscent of the 2019 mainstage design. Turning up the tempo, Billx‘s unique Frenchcore and hard psy mix filled the Yellow stage to near capacity. Later, Imperial‘s #ForeverGrindin set increased the speed to bass-heavy uptempo.
Reminiscing on the extraordinary weekend of madness, the Closing Ritual with synchronized fireworks and lasers ends the festival at the Red stage. This ceremony, analogous to the Saturday endshow, premiered unreleased tracks such as “Rise Again” by Hard Driver. The gathering finale closed with “This Is Who We Are” as a representation of what weekend warriors stand for in the scene.
Defqon.1 Primal Energy was a Roller Coaster of emotions.
Overall, the weather consisted of little rain throughout the event hours. Before and after the event heavy rainstorms were in effect, however, the party did not dull due to this sunless weather. In case of rain, bars distributed ponchos to attendees at no extra cost. These bars sold several drink options, both with and without alcohol, for a wide variety of choices.
Pop-ups like the Captain Morgan barrels, STËLZ party bus, Shisha lounge, and the Big Chill added depth to the experiences attendees were able to explore in the four days of madness. Hosted after-parties, new stages, and add-on experiences allowed this year’s edition to be one of the best ones yet.
If you missed out on this year’s festival or would like to relive the madness, live sets, the Saturday end show, and festival after-movie will be available on YouTube soon. If next year’s edition is a must, earlier this year Q-dance and Walibi Holland announced renewed cooperation for the next ten years earlier this year, therefore the weekend festival will continue to commence at the venue in Biddinghuizen. Ticket sales for the next edition will likely go on sale in early 2023 and, akin to previous years, packages and tickets sell out a few hours after ticket sales launch.