My rating for the festival: 8/10. Every hardcore fan must make the pilgrimage to Masters of Hardcore at least once in his or her life. The production, the organization, the sound system, the vibes, and of course the music were all top notch. Read on for my review of the festival!
As a fan of the hardest genre in electronic dance music, there are two annual events you cannot miss. One is Dominator Festival in the summer. The other is Masters of Hardcore in the spring.
I’ve known of Masters of Hardcore for awhile because I’ve listened to countless sets from this event. For hardcore ravers, this is definitely a bucket list item to tick off.
Here is some music for you to enjoy as you read the post, from my hero Dr. Peacock!
Trip To Masters of Hardcore, Den Bosch
Masters of Hardcore is a massive indoor festival. Indoors because it’s in March, so the weather is still cold in the Netherlands. It’s in ‘S Hertogenbosch (aka Den Bosch – took me a year living in the Netherlands before I figured that out), which is about a 1-hour direct train ride from Amsterdam.
I arrived in Den Bosch at about 8pm to check out a bit of the city and to eat dinner. Den Bosch is a small town and the center was about 10 minutes walking from the train station. Of course there were waterways surrounding the city and a cute city center, like all other Dutch towns. One difference from other Dutch cities like Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Rotterdam though was that the city center was SO quiet at 8pm on a Saturday night! It definitely does not seem like a party city at all.
I finished my tour pretty quickly and went to eat a Kapsalon for dinner – my first one, ever! It’s a Dutch doner dish that’s basically a heap of fries with kebab meat on top, topped with tomatoes, lettuce, onions, molten cheese, white sauce, and hot sauce. Gotta get that energy to dance all night!
I then walked back towards the station, to a beer bar called Thornbridge. I was meeting up with a group of people from QSA. QSA stands for Q-Dance USA (Q-Dance is the most well-known hard dance event production group, owned by ID&T), and as the name suggests it’s a community of American hard dance lovers. A couple weeks before the party, in an effort to expand my hard dance friendship network in the Netherlands, I had posted on the QSA Facebook group inquiring if anyone lived in the Netherlands. And now I was meeting a group of them in person!
There was Amy who is a fearless leader of the East Coast Hard Dance event production group and super involved in QSA. She came all decked out in kandi and even made us all QSA kandi! Then there was the legend Tim who attends every single hard dance event in the Netherlands. And there were even other Americans who traveled all the way from the West Coast to the Netherlands just for Masters of Hardcore. The dedication is real! This was actually the first time I’ve ever met Americans that love hardcore. Amazing 💕
The venue, Brabanthallen, was about a 25-minute walk away from the train station, but we opted to take a short taxi ride instead. Four people for 10 euros – worth it.
We chugged the last of our pre-drinks outside the venue. The party started at 9pm but we got there at around 11pm and there was still a huge crowd of people waiting to get in. However in normal Netherlands fashion, the line was fast and efficient (I can’t say the same about some of the hellish lines at other raves I’ve been to in NYC). I started getting goosebumps as I saw the MOH billboard welcoming us. I was so nervous at this point… as I usually am leading up to an important party!
Let the Party Begin!
Already in the crowd you could see that this is an important event in the hard dance community, as people from all over Europe and beyond travel to the Netherlands for this. Besides our American friends, I also saw lots of Spaniards, Italians, French, and Germans. Hardcore parties in the Netherlands are unlike your normal dance music events, where the demographics are 20-year-olds and sometimes even teens (i.e. Trap parties in the Netherlands). Since hardcore reached its peak in the Netherlands in the late 90s, many of the hardcore ravers are seasoned veterans.
Masters of Hardcore had 7 stages with everything from uptempo hardcore to speedcore. There’s even a rawstyle stage (but it doesn’t count, that’s not hardcore! 😠). Rawstyle is a subgenre of hardstyle that is more “raw” and “industrial”. It’s trendy now, so many hardcore festivals also have a stage dedicated to that. Probably in no small part because it moves the tickets!
This edition of Masters of Hardcore was an extra special one because it marks DJ Outblast’s last performance of his career. Outblast is one of the early pioneers of the scene, who in fact was one of the people responsible for bringing to life the Masters of Hardcore concept and record label.
The theme of this MOH was Samurai. You can see samurai themed stages and art throughout the venue, such as Japanese pagodas, samurai symbols, and samurai helmets. It’s a cool theme for a party! I especially got a kick out of it because they projected random Chinese words onto the LED panels. I cracked up a lot at their choice of words.
Besides Mainstage that showcased the biggest names of hardcore and the rawstyle stage, there were also a Terror stage, a Frenchcore stage, and an early hardcore stage. I fangirled hard when Amy introduced me to Dr. Peacock (thanks girl!) by the Frenchcore stage, and I got to take a picture with him! 💕
Another highlight of the night includes Paul Elstak’s performance at the Imperial Victors stage.
Those that know me know that I love Frenchcore. And what I love even more is when music is being played live…especially with musical instruments breaking the genre boundaries! So I loved SEFA’s performance which had a keyboardist jam live to the music.
Experiencing Dutch ratchetness…
A side effect of going to a lot of parties is that you believe that nothing will ever surprise you anymore. However, Rotterdam Terror Corps managed to do that for me. I had heard of Rotterdam Terror Corps as they’ve been in the industry forever, but no one had ever warned me about their live shows. I excitedly turned up to their set and this is what I saw:
Basically the dancers took off all their clothes and were doing the hakken butt naked, among other things.
I was quite shocked so I didn’t want stay for the whole thing (plus I wasn’t really digging their music). When we left the dancers had only taken their tops off but according to other instagram videos, the dancers took their panties off too and were basically masturbating on stage 😱.
After we left, Tim nonchalantly said “they’re the original Pussy Lounge.”
I was still a bit traumatized – “you knew it was going to be like this, why didn’t you tell me!”
And I thought Americans were the ratchet ones! 😂 Vegas strip clubs seemed like child play in comparison.
All in all: Masters of Hardcore lived up to my (very high) expectations!!
Every festival can be improved, even a festival with as high of a caliber as Masters of Hardcore. If I were to make any complaints about the festival, it would be that there were too few bathrooms. The lines of the bathrooms by the mainstage had ridiculous lines and walking to the next set of bathrooms took like 10 minutes. The festival could have used some porta-potties.
Another thing was the merch store – the lines there were crazy there! We waited half an hour to get our merch. Hard dance fans are the biggest merch hoarders compared to fans of other genres, MOH should have opened up more merchandise stands at the event. Make more money, disperse the crowd, and let us go nuts over the music rather than the merch!
Oh yeah, and the organization probably could have done some research on the random Chinese words that they chose to project onto huge LED screens all over the mainstage.
MOH, if you need a Chinese language consultant, I’d like to offer my services for free! 😂 Either way, thanks for a great party and see you next year!
Check out reviews I’ve written for other hard dance events –
- Dominator, Netherlands [Hardcore]
- Q-Base, Germany [Hardstyle & Hardcore]
- Defqon.1, Netherlands [Hardstyle & Hardcore]
- The Sound of Q-Dance, Chile [Hardstyle]
- Hard Spring Day, Madrid [Hardstyle]
- Black Party, Taiwan [Hardstyle]
- Airbeat One, Germany [Hardstyle + other genres]
- Tomorrowland, Belgium [Hardstyle, Hardcore + other genres]
- Mysteryland, Netherlands [Hardstyle + other genres]