My rating of Q-Base: 7/10. My 36-hour whirlwind Q-Base + Dusseldorf trip was quite an adventure. Q-Base is an annual one night festival held at an old airfield in middle-of-nowhere Western Germany, and has 14 hours and 12 stages worth of hard dance music. All genres of hard dance are represented there, from the mainstream hardstyle, to hardcore, to even the smaller subgenres of terror or “hard drum and bass.” If you want to experience a breadth of styles of hard dance music without going to Defqon.1 for 3 days and camping, or if you simply don’t want to miss the last outdoors hard dance festival of the festival season, Q-Base is for you.
After my first experience with Hardcore at Dominator Festival in July, I was hooked onto Hardcore/Gabber parties. So, when Fernando, my go-to hard dance buddy, told me he’s in to go to Q-Base, I booked a flight immediately to Dusseldorf and invested 65 euros on a ticket. Q-Base is the “highest rated Q-Dance event”, held at an old airfield in Germany, with 12 stages of hard dance music, including genres of hardstyle, hardcore, and smaller subgenres. Q-Base is a “dusk to dawn” type of festival, from 5PM to 7AM, so I had a flight arriving to Dusseldorf Saturday noon, leaving Sunday at 9PM. Didn’t think it through and no hotel booked.
Going to Q-Base turned out to be quite an adventure and I was really blessed by the rave gods in terms of luck. First of all, as soon as I got on the metro in Barcelona, I realized that I forgot to bring my debit card, and that I only had about 100 euros on me. It was too late to turn back, so I would just have to make do with what I have (technically, 100 euros for two days is tight but should be enough).
When I got to Dusseldorf, onto the airport train, I asked a guy holding a Starbucks for directions. Simultaneously, he dropped his coffee, causing a huge splatter on the floor of the train. Pretty sure he dropped his drink independent of being startled by me, but it created quite an awkward moment between us, as I was looking at him with my mouth open, about to blurt out a question, and he was standing there unsure of what to do. I was going to just leave and find someone else to ask, but hesitated for a moment as the guy already knew I was about to ask something. So, ignoring the pile of mess, I just went ahead and said “Does this go to Dusseldorf train station?” He said yes, so I took a seat on the other side of the train.
When we reached the main station, I stepped onto the platform, unsure of where to go next. The same guy came up to me and asked, do you need any more help? I told him that I wanted to go to the city center, to kill some time before my friend arrives at 4pm. He said he was also going that way, and that he’d take me there. So, he ended up showing me around for a bit, buying me lunch (I mentioned my credit card situation), and offering me a place to stay the following day. Somehow all my problems were solved! For more about what happened afterwards with this guy, see my follow on post.
Though I was in Dusseldorf for a very short amount of time, it definitely felt a lot more “German” than Berlin – in their main street, there were lines of Aryan looking men and women with large pints of beer, being rowdy on a Saturday and watching football.
I went back to the Dusseldorf train station and changed into my “rave outfit”, which promptly led to a creepy guy come up to me and look up and down, muttering things to me. Thank god I don’t understand. Where are you Fernando!! During this time, the Belgian friend I met at Dominator also texted me to meet up at Weeze, the town where Q-Base is held. We made plans to meet at 5pm, but neither of us had internet, so we just had to leave it up to fate.
Fernando finally arrived at 5PM, and we bought a train ticket to Weeze, which is about 1 hour from Dusseldorf, costing 17 euros. Yes, trains in Germany are mad expensive, avoid them at all costs! We were seated next to some German youth also going to Q-Base, who were blasting hardstyle from their seats and taking swigs of alcohol. It definitely provided the atmosphere, besides the fact that we were dead sober and there was an old man seated next to them. It actually felt kind of disrespectful and I felt like it gives ravers a bad name 🙁 The crowd definitely felt pretty “local”.
We arrived at the Weeze train station, around 6pm, and to my surprise someone called my name. I was like who would know me in the middle of nowhere Germany? I turned around and my Belgian friend Jens was waving at me. Turned out we both arrived an hour late, but hey it worked out!
Fernando and I tried the old trick of smuggling in a bottle of vodka in our back pockets, unfortunately this time it didn’t work, so we just chugged as much as we could and headed in. Also, Fernando lost us about 1 hour into the festival, since he is always trying to go to the front of the stage. I was left with Jens and his twin brother Niels.
We checked out the Back in Time Stage – early hardstyle from the 2000s with DJs like Isaac and Tuneboy.
Hardcore – Warehouse stage, one of my favorites.
Hardcore Drum & Bass stage – a new genre that I had previously not known, but it combines my two favorite things! I was a bit disappointed because it just seemed like drum & bass with intermittent hardcore tracks, instead of being fused as one. Hopefully this subgenre can continue to evolve!
The mainstage. This was my first time ever seeing a cockroach stage. The concept of the festival was “Lock N Load” – and our friends at Harstylemag.nl endearingly called this edition the Bug N Load. Very appropriate! The mainstage played the typical, big name uplifting hardstyle for the most part.
I also liked the Belgian Hardstyle stage “Dirty Workz”, which is a Belgian Hardstyle/Jumpstyle label. Da Tweekaz, Coone, and Hard Driver were some of the DJs that spun there.
Then, we have the Hangar. Probably the most infamous stage of Q-Base, with the Raw Hardstyle subgenre. Talents include B-Front and Radical Redemption. The stage was super packed the whole time, so I actually did not spend much time there.
Terror Stage. This stage was hell on earth! The sound was way too loud, in a small, enclosed room, so I had to go buy earplugs and the BPM was wayyy too high for my taste (like 250+BPM). The Belgian twins loved it though and in my frustration I left them there, around 3AM. I ended up being on my own for the rest of the festival because I couldn’t hang at the Terror stage!
I met some Dutch guys from Rotterdam towards the end of the festival and hung out with them at the Hardcore stage. Had no energy left but rallied and danced hard for the last hour.
I spent the most time at the above stages, but there were also the Confederation “Industrial Raw” stage, Ruthless Invites “Freestyle”, Paradox “Milleniun Hardcore”, and a Techno stage (Why?!). With 12 stages to check out, my plan was to stay one hour at each stage, but obviously I got sucked into the Hardcore stage 🙂
Fun fact, Q-Base is held at an old air field, so you see traces of its past! For example, this “FOD sign”
The sign reads “Stop FOD!” on the side of a Hangar. “Foreign object debris” was an important aviation safety concept, to pick up loose objects on the ground to prevent damage to the aircraft.
I think that Q-Base is good in terms of the variety of music genres, but the stages, location, and production are just not as good as Dominator in my opinion. I think daytime festivals are just more unique in terms of vibes, and the lakeside location of Dominator makes it a lovely place to spend a day. Also, Dominator had performers walking around the venue (not to mention the flying motorcyclists), making it a truly unique experience! Another thing is that Q-Base is held mid-September, when the weather was already chilly and rainy in Germany, so the weather was definitely not on our side. While I would go to Dominator over and over again, if I had the choice I would try another festival instead of Q-Base… such as Intents Festival, really want to go to that!
I lost Fernando during the whole festival, but we found each other at the lockers at the end. Here’s us at 7am…
Q-Base may be over, but my Dusseldorf adventure had not. Read here about my non-hardstyle related misadventure.