It was time for Qlimax again on Saturday the 28th of November. This time a different edition than we are used to. Yet Q-dance was able to respond wonderfully to the current state of affairs and came up with a unique alternative, namely ‘an audiovisual journey’. To honor Q-dance with its 20th anniversary and to blow out 20 candles, we want to take our readers and visitors of Qlimax with a straight ‘Journey Through Sound’ on a journey from the past, to the present, to the future. This together with various artists who were responsible for the anthems over the years.
Featured image: Nils Klöckner
It all started in the year 2000. A year where not only a new year began, but a new millennium. It is also the year of the rise of hardstyle and of the very first edition of Qlimax. Qlimax is the longest-running concept of Q-dance and therefore very special for organization and visitor. 20 years ago, many elements looked different, including the line-up. Names such as Armin van Buuren and Ferry Corsten then performed. This was because hardstyle was just emerging.
The GelreDome has not always been the headquarters of Qlimax. The Qlimax story began in the Beursgebouw in Eindhoven. In the years to come, the festival tried to find its headquarters. This did not work in the first years and Qlimax moved the entire party in 2001 to the Heineken Music Hall (now AFAS Live) in Amsterdam. In the beginning of 2002, the organization made an attempt at the Thialf Stadium in Heerenveen. Later in 2002 a second attempt was made at the SilverDome in Zoetermeer. At the beginning of 2003, Q-dance tried it one more time in the Thialf Stadium, but at the end of 2003 they finally found the perfect location in Arnhem, namely the GelreDome.
Also, the date of the event differed earlier compared to now. In 2000 and 2001 the event was still held in June, and the following year in April and September. In 2003 there were also two more editions, in April and November. During this first edition in the GelreDome, November became the regular Qlimax month.
The GelreDome is not just any location, it is an enormous location that offers a roof for more than 30,000 visitors. The size of this location has also played a part in the theme of Qlimax. Due to the size of the location, the bigger picture could be seen and the spiritual essence, often with a dark corner, was even more striking.
Elements of the theme are projected during the event. Not only on the decoration of the stage, but also on the decoration of the artists. The performers, as disciples of the higher power, also became part of the show. The costumes and styling of the artists were brought in line with the theme. A very important facet in this is House of Cherries. In an interview with this company, they tell how they arrange the costumes and other aspects of Qlimax.
The message that Q-dance wants to convey is the fact that everything is connected during Qlimax. By stimulating the senses of the visitors, everyone gets the same story, but they make it their own. Mysticism, mythology, and symbolism are the foundation for the show every year.
2003 – The Prophecy Of The Harder Styles
The anthems were integrated from 2003 on. They are part of the theme and, among other things, ensure the connection among the visitors. The very first anthem was provided by The Prophet, with ‘Follow the Leader’. Deepack received the honor for the second edition in 2003.
Deepack talks about this edition: ” Back in 2003 we were asked by Q-dance to produce the anthem for Qlimax: The Prophecy Of The Harder Styles. We were very proud and honored to work on the theme, and it was also the first time when Q-dance moved the event to a bigger location, which was the Gelredome in Arnhem and became the home for Qlimax. We proudly present to you: “Deepack – The Prophecy”
2004 – Destiny’s Path
This brings us to the year 2004. This year the creation of the anthem was different. The responsible party, Future Tribes, consisted of Domenique van der Niet (who unfortunately has stopped) and Frank Ellrich. TIOH was given the opportunity to interview Frank. Frank says that this was the very first song he released with Dominique.
You have to understand that ‘Deadlock’ was actually the first track I did with Dominique van der Niet. It started as a side project with loads of fun. We did not get the order upfront from Q-dance to create the anthem, which later on was very usual. We are a bit special. That time the organizers stumbled over our track, loved it, and asked us if they could use it. Of course, that wasn’t really a big question for us since it was a great honor! It was a huge surprise! We both never expected that the first track had such a great impact straight away in the scene. An anthem by accident, we had no clue!”. This resulted in the duo Future Tribes.
We asked him to share his experience from that year with us. “Well I haven’t played as Future Tribes at Qlimax that year but I was invited to be part of the Anniversary Party last year and in 2012. The atmosphere and vibe in the Geldredom is something very special and hard to describe with words once you are on stage! Everybody is super dedicated and like-minded. No wonder that it became such a cult! Each edition the tickets are flying over the counter and in minutes it is sold out! All that combined shows how popular and important it is for the fans and community.”
We asked him where his love for Qlimax began. “From day one I was always a lover of the harder styles, I created my own unique signature sound already in the nineties. When in early 2000 the rise came of great festival concepts all over the world supporting this sound you can imagine the smile it gave on my face. Qlimax and Sensation Black are the ones who stick to my memories and were the game changers for the scene and opening doors for many big events after. The way they approached the event with their production skills and visuals gave a total experience. Combined with the music was just mind-blowing.”
Over the years, the costuming and theming became increasingly important, we were curious whether Frank had also taken this into account. “I like the idea to create a full experience for the crowd, however on a personal level, I am not so much into dressing up on stage! I prefer to be myself but then again during my experience in 2012, where I got a bit of face paint, I could understand the impact on the crowd. Combined with the theme and identity of the night. One big show for all harder lovers!”
Frank Ellrich grew more and more towards the techno sound, with his project A*S*Y*S. “In 2012 I finally had the opportunity and the experience to perform and do an opening set with my main project A*S*Y*S. This set will always be one of my favorite DJ experiences ever! I was able to present my very own Acid stuff combined with all of my earlier harder tunes and present it to this amazing crowd. The outstanding light show, stage design, and my make-up. It was mind-blowing! I really appreciated this opportunity and was a big motivation boost for the years to follow. I still receive messages from fans asking me about that specific set and where they can get hold of it. Yesterday it happened again.”
After all these years, the very first aftermovie was released in 2004.
2005 – Science & Religion
A year later, Zany was responsible for the anthem. We asked him how this was for him. “When you are asked to make the anthem for Qlimax, you become very quiet for a moment. It is the Netherlands, the hardstyle country par excellence. It is not just something to be able to make the anthem of the most popular indoor hardstyle party!”
This was followed by an outburst of euphoria: “What a great feeling that was! After this immediately all radars start running in your head to work out the most awesome idea in the studio. We recorded the chorus you hear in my anthem ourselves. My mother also sings along, which makes it even more special. And what perhaps not many people know: Just before the heavy voice says ‘Qlimax’, the choir sings ‘Raoul, Zany’. Hahaha … you should check it out!”
If the run-up was so positive, we are certainly curious about his experience. “Yes, that is next level performance of course. I must honestly say that first you really see the first few thousand people, but after that, it is one big mess of people. The tension in the moment before you start is not normal! But when you have shot your first track in it and it goes off like a bomb for all those people, you go completely INSANE. That feeling cannot be described. The atmosphere is always really cool! You notice that people just come to Qlimax to experience that sick evening / night.”
We asked him if that’s why he had also taken the theme into account while producing the anthem. Also what he thought of the matching costumes. “The costumes have become a bit more advanced over the years, of course, but I was lucky enough to be able to rappel down from the ceiling and then take a seat behind the DJ booth. I remember that we had to come to Arnhem on Friday to rehearse that, secretly quite high. And that for someone with a fear of heights! Not to forget the make-up every time, super how they always fix that. That just tops it off! And fun to fool other artists backstage, of course.”
After all this, we already believe there is love for Qlimax. We asked him how this had developed further. “I especially like the vibe that surrounds it. A large football stadium, 30,000 people, and a super thought-out story. There you can test / preview your new tracks in the very best way. And after every Qlimax, there is always so much written on the internet about your set, your tracks, etc. wonderful! So when I was allowed to go to Qlimax as a guest of Pavo in 2003 to check his set, I was like… ok, let’s get back to work and make sure I get there as soon as possible!”
The last thing Raoul van Grinsven wants to tell you about Qlimax is; “The anthem show in 2005, the legendary Donkey Rollers performance in 2006, and closing in 2008 with Vince. All the times I’ve been on Qlimax are moments to remember.” Zany has appeared on Qlimax six times in his career!
2006 – The Dark Side
This year it was Alpha²’s turn. “When we were asked to participate in the anthem, we naturally felt very honored. We knew it was not going to be an easy task and that turned out to be the case. Many versions have been reviewed but in the end there was a fantastic end result ‘The Darkside’ including a harder version. On the evening itself, I told myself and Anco several times that when the ‘anthem’ was to be played you really had to take it all in, that you are there as an artist, the sound, the show, that gruesome outfit and of course the gigantic crowd. An experience that will always stay with you! ” In total, Alpha² appeared at Qlimax five times!
2007 – The Power Of The Mind
“Qlimax 2007 is of course known for Headhunterz’ Qlimax anthem ‘The Power Of The Mind’ and for the legendary set of Zany & The Prophet, where all visitors shouted loudly on the track ‘Nothing Else Matters’ in a sea of green lasers. A time when Partyflock and Hyves were the largest social media platforms in our country.”
2008 – Next Dimensional World
The following year, 2008, was indubitably the start of Project One: one of the most influential live acts in the hardstyle world, formed by none other than Headhunterz and Wildstylez. After the release of their legendary Project One album, the two were allowed to take the stage in the GelreDome during Qlimax.
That year’s anthem ‘Next Dimensional World’ was produced by the Italian legend Technoboy. Moreover, this was the edition with the very last Qlimax performance by Showtek, the act that successively shook the GelreDome to its foundations in 2006, 2007, and 2008. Peter: “I’ve been lucky enough to see Showtek twice. What a legacy these men have left behind!”
Peter de Valck: “What is so wonderful is when you have those images in the aftermovies or in the dvd’s of those days – that they are not perfect, and that’s the most ‘charming’ faces out of the audience where shown. Nowadays, you can (unfortunately) barely see that any more.”
2009 – The Nature Of Our Mind
If there is one edition that is still fresh in the minds of many, it is the edition of 2009. Here Q-dance underwent an enormous transformation with its showpiece Qlimax, with the theme ‘The Nature Of Our Mind’ in the decoration, the show and stage came out so grand and down to the last detail. In addition, the eponymous anthem by D-Block & S-te-Fan also contributed completely to the atmosphere and theme of the event.
“All the published video material, such as the aftermovie and the excerpt below, is extremely strong marketing of Qlimax and Q-dance, but also for the complete hardstyle scene. This was the edition where I fell in love with this style of music as a 16/17-year-old boy. After watching the DVD you only wanted one thing: go to Qlimax and be part of the hardstyle family. ”
2010 – Alternate Reality
Qlimax 2010 was the first Qlimax of the new decade and could only be disappointing after such a beautiful edition last year. But nothing could be further from the truth! Brennan Heart’s ‘Alternate Reality’ was this year’s anthem and what characterized this edition was the new setup of the stage and the ‘astronaut suits’ in which the artists were lifted.
2011 – No Way Back, 2012 – Fate or Fortune, 2013 – Immortal Essence, and 2014 The Source Code of Creation.
Peter: “The first edition that I was legally allowed to attend was Qlimax 2011 and it confirmed all expectations. It is a magical moment when you enter a packed GelreDome for the first time and look down from the top ring at the synchronously pounding crowd. Although at the event you get less of the mix of all show elements, all your senses are stimulated.”
In the year 2011, there was a split, a new movement, or subgenre within the harder styles that is still part of the scene today: raw hardstyle. At Qlimax 2011 with Gunz For Hire, Qlimax 2012 with Adaro and B-Front, Qlimax 2013 with again Gunz For Hire and Qlimax 2014 with Crypsis it is clear that the organization also responded to the changes in the scene.
Technological developments also ensured that Qlimax became even bigger than ever before in the early 1910s. Hardstyle globalized and professionalized and Qlimax was (and is) actually always the place where this was (and is) first expressed.
Of course, hardcore also plays an important role during Qlimax. The closing act has long been specially intended and reserved for a hardcore artist. This is an illustrious list of names that cannot be left unnamed: in chronological order: Outblast, Promo, Neophyte, Noize Suppressor, Endymion & Evil Activities, Mad Dog & Art Of Fighters, The Viper, Partyraiser, Tha Playah, Angerfist, N- Vitral, Dr. Peacock, Miss K8 and SEFA.
2015 – Equilibrium
This brings us to five years ago. Atmozfears was responsible for this year’s anthem. Tim van de Stadt said about it: “Qlimax 2015, the year of my peak. In 2014 I got the honor to hit the stage with the album ‘Release‘, which did so well that the following year I was asked to provide the anthem for the upcoming year.
“I only started making hardstyle with the aim of one day making the Qlimax anthem, so for me it was a dream come true. In hindsight maybe a little too early in my career, because making an anthem of this size was something of taking too much hay on my fork. Nevertheless, the anthem was well received, and for me, it was the first time that people could already sing a record the first time I played it.” Tim has been on Qlimax three times so far.
2020 – The Source
At last, the year of the audiovisual journey for the visitors. ‘The Source’ is a new Qlimax experience that transforms your home into a hardstyle temple. The evening consisted of The Ritual, The Source, and The Afterparty. The beginning of The Ritual could be compared to a short ceremony in which they prepare you for the next piece by means of an ultimate attunement.
You can describe The Source as a unique, cinematographic hardstyle trip. It consists of six chapters for which seven priests are responsible. Each chapter takes place in a unique location and contains its own artist. The artists all have their own role in the story.
In addition, each chapter has its own soundtrack, created by the artist associated with that particular chapter. Lots of new music, with the well-known Qlimax feeling. Sub Zero Project filled in the first chapter with ‘Enter The Realm‘, Phuture Noize followed with ‘A New World‘, then Headhunterz & JDX came up with ‘Transcendence’.
It was a unique experience, where you could see that a lot of attention had been paid to it. A lot of planning and a big production for this feature film. The credits were huge. House of Cherries was also responsible for the decoration of the artists here. At the after-party, you could enjoy different sets of artists present. B-Front really hit the spot with its fine music and Sefa closed with an energetic Frenchcore set.
Did you miss Qlimax? Luckily for you that on Thursday, Q-dance announced that Qlimax ‘The Source’ will appear on Netflix.