The 19th edition of Defqon.1 proved, yet again, to be the leader in stage production and additionally graduated several artists to larger stages.
Defqon.1 proudly drew over 250,000 visitors from over 100 nations over the course of the weekend, uniting all under a common front: the love of harder styles. With 11 stages spread out throughout the venue, this mecca of hard dance brought a musical spectacle for its warriors for four days. The event grows in size annually with upgrades to the overall experience. It’s obvious Q-dance never ceases to reinvest its efforts into the following edition to make the event even bigger and better.
Several aspects improved this year, including pre-setup camping accommodations, the addition of the Sanctuary Restaurant, added art structures throughout the festival venue, and most noticeably, the stage designs. Several of the stages were increased in size and capacity alongside their overall production and designs. In addition to the stage setups, several artists played to even larger crowds at larger stages this year, with the rise in Rawstyle and Uptempo.
If you missed out on Defqon.1 or couldn’t visit each stage, read on for an in-depth look at this year’s stage upgrades and artist stage graduations.
This year’s edition of Defqon.1 debuted a brand new design for the Red Stage.
Akin to previous weekends, the stage is completely made of recycled materials. The dual samurai design promoted the theme of “Path of the Warrior” with a tapered apex in the center, representing the definite path each weekend warrior takes to end as a united front. The main color of the stage, of course, is red, defining the power and passion of the hard dance scene.
A few key figures that represented this power and passion with first-time placements on this stage include Sickmode and Rooler with their live act The Gang. Previously, Rooler had played at the soul-crushing Blue stage, and Sickmode made a smashing festival debut. Additionally, Vertile and Act of Rage, both who had also previously played at the Blue, brought the heat for their individual, mainstage debut sets. Galactixx also debuted his classic sounds on the coveted Red stage.
Unlike the two previous editions, there seemed to be a lack of ceiling adornments to this year’s Blue stage production.
Pillars donned with large masks and blades were placed within the crowd. The blades were reminiscent of the 2019 stage design, and the laser systems exceeded expectations with stunning amounts. Annually, the setup changes for the Blue as well, with nearly as many attendees able to fit in as the Gelredome. The structures and backdrop surrounding the DJ comprised an ornate mandala of more masks and blades.
A few DJs surrounded by these impressive setups who had previously played at Indigo include Rawstyle heavyweights Anderex with Mutilator presenting their live act Neon Future, RVAGE, Aversion, and Mish. Each of these sets packed insane punches of their latest releases layered between unreleased tracks. All these artists had the opportunity to shine at the asylum of Rawstyle.
All hail the home of Hardcore; the ferocious Black stage also features a renovated design each edition.
Featuring bilateral rows of pillars and a central row of diamond structures suspended along the middle plane of the ceiling, this stage never lacks in production, including lasers. With symmetric cobras and a mandala of flames and blades behind the DJ, this stage didn’t disappoint with its ornate details. Slightly smaller than the Blue, this Hardcore home (and Freestyle home on Sunday) make up capacity in sonic intensity.
The biggest names in Hardcore annually play at the Black, and this year a few relatively fresh faces to the scene. Hysta and Unfused had the privilege of blasting their tracks to a crowd of dedicated Hardcore warriors. Not only was standard Hardcore played, but with the rise in popularity of Uptempo, several artists within the niche sub-genre graced the mighty Black stage. All previously residing at the Yellow, the mainstay of Uptempo, leaders Dimitri K, Major Conspiracy, and Barber graduated to the largest Hardcore stage at the festival.
The UV Stage was dedicated to only live acts each full day of the festival.
Transforming from the circular design of the previous years, this edition displayed a reflective Egyptian-esque pyramid with a bordering frame of blades. The UV stage stayed about the same size as the previous year and is the host of the Warrior Workout on Saturday. The UV serves artists of all capacities as it is an enormous outdoor stage neighboring the big Blue.
Previously overfilling the Yellow, Billx brought The Rave Music Live Show to the UV this year. Fans of this hard-psy and Frenchcore artist flocked to the live-act stage for this ensemble of upbeat tracks. Speaking of upbeat, the Aussies making up the 3 Blokes (Code Black, Audiofreq, Toneshifterz) brought a set featuring fun tracks, party vibes, and even shoeys. On a more serious note, euphoric evangelical Envine played a collection of his best tracks for his UV stage debut of The Melodica.
Approximately tripling in size this year, the Indigo brought massive names in Xtra Raw to its aired-out dancefloor.
With color-changing bulbs reminiscent of those attached to bars on the Blue stage ceiling last year, this stage boasted an insane lineup of artists. This includied the second year of its inclusion in The Gathering festivities, which Apex Records hosted until the late hours. In place of a board of LED’s on the wall behind the artist, a wall of dimensional, asymmetric pyramids were displayed in a grid formation.
A part of the Xtra Raw lineup were previous Purple stage players Anderex, Luner, K1, and Vexxed. Graduating from the stage of upcoming talents to the house of Xtra Raw, these four sought to bring carnage and heavy bass upon the Indigo’s crowd. Most notably, Anderex overflooded the stage with a significant crowd of fellow Aussie fans supporting his blazing set.
Where Frenchcore and Uptempo typically reside, the Yellow is home to the fastest beats at the event.
Similarly to other stages at Defqon.1, the size of this stage increased and upgraded its structure. From last year’s central yellow Defqon logo fortified by tapered boards of LEDs, 2023’s design was framed by rows of arrow-like structures. Although the capacity seemed to be nearly the same, the stage size developed to compete with that of Magenta. The blaring beats at the Yellow are never for the faint of heart.
Wreaking havoc for the first time at this stage, homegrown, American, Frenchcore talent Levenkhan demolished the speakers with his heavy-hitting tracks. Don’t be fooled by the beauty of Italian princessa Yoshiko, as she also surely brought speedy kicks and distorted sounds to Defqon’s Yellow. Previously residing at the Purple, Dutch beauties Juju Rush and Doris also turned up the heat and tempo for their Yellow debut sets.
The Purple stage hosts the scene’s rising stars annually, and many of the biggest names today started here, including label kingpins and The Spotlight artists.
A majority of its elements, of course, match the color theme it is named for. From its previous location across the pond to its neighboring of the mighty Red, the Purple’s design always stays pretty minimal. The dome surrounding the DJ seems to have been taken from last year’s Blue stage; however, large blade-like designs were added to frame its borders.
Opposing the minimal design, several artists began their trail-blaze of glory last weekend at the festival debut. Recently moving to the motherland of harder styles, Rawstyle producers DEEZL filled the Purple with an astounding amount of Aussie fans. Exproz, Kenai, and CANGO also brought nothing but pure madness to the motherland of hard dance. Alternatively, euphoric angel A-Rize played out his heart-capturing tracks. Although there are several artists who reside at the Purple for several years before being promoted to larger stages and crowds, the sky is the limit for these fresh faces, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for these rising stars.