Our Black Friday shopping paid off as we received the best gift of all in the form of Hardwell at Pacha NYC on Friday, November 23rd. I had a feeling it was going to be big when I saw that, at 11pm, merely one of the three lines to get in was wrapped around the block…twice. I know how talented and popular Hardwell is, but that still didn’t prepare me for the insanity that was to ensue. I got to the city early to hang out and make sure I didn’t hit traffic. I was blocks away from the club and could still see people in rave gear, stopping into nearby bars and waiting for the doors to open. I could overhear the name “Hardwell” from every direction.
After getting in and navigating my way through the massive crowd that was rapidly growing, I found a small seat feet away from the DJ booth where I could watch Audien, the opening DJ, set the crowd on fire with songs like his remix of “Memorize Me” and his new song “Sup.” I couldn’t believe the attire I saw; bathing suits in what felt like 35 degree weather? Clearly the cold couldn’t stop the fans, because people were waiting outside for hours. Some people didn’t even get in until after Hardwell started his set. I was skeptical that everyone was going to fit; after all, it was a sold out show. However, not one face I saw was upset about the wait in the cold or the immense crowd. As soon as people walked in, their faces lit up with smiles and they instantly went into party mode to start making their way to the dance floor.
As soon as Audien finished, around 1:45, there was a moment of quiet from the speakers while the lights went out. Chants of “Hard-well! Hard-well!” filled the club and the crowd’s wish was granted. From the darkness, the sound of “Spaceman” rose up and the spotlights illuminated Hardwell as he walked into the booth. The energy was infectious. He soon mixed in “Somebody That I Used to Know” and “Leave the World Behind.” The amazing start only got better. When he dropped “Reload” and confetti fell from the ceiling, the crowd took it up a few notches, jumping and fist pumping. He then threw in “Gangnam Style” which was the first of many songs to take me by surprise that night. He alternated between classics and remixes, first playing “Greyhound,” then a remix of “Numb” by Linkin Park, followed by “Fade Into Darkness” and my favorite, “Ladi Dadi.” Another unconventional remix he played was “Be Faithful” by Fat Man Scoop.
The crowd was simply crazed, infected with the electro beats and bass drops. The lights flickered and changed colors, fog rolled through the mass, and confetti rained down. I could see rave gloves waving in the air throughout the crowd like mini laser light shows. Musical fireworks were coming out of the booth, and I wouldn’t have been at all surprised if real ones had shot out over the crowd. To say the very least, Robbie Hardwell was putting on a hell of a show!
Around 3:00am, when most bars in the city are closing, he decided to drop the infamous anthem, “Don’t You Worry Child.” Every person with a heartbeat sang along, including the security guard standing near me who was trying inconspicuously to bob his head. Much like how I always get excited when I hear those first notes of “The Island” and the telltale lyrics, “what are you waiting for…”, my heart skipped a beat when those notes crept up out of the speakers and into my hungry ears. It was a highlight for me, especially since he played Alesso’s “Years” soon after. Another crowd favorite was “Kick Out the Epic Motherfucker” but mashed with Sandro Silva and Quintino’s “Epic,” which is another personal favorite of mine.
The last 30 minutes was full of electro that was not easy to recognize, but clearly not hard to dance to. After two hours of Audien, and two hours of Hardwell, the crowd was still going full force with adrenaline pumping. When I saw my friend from college come into the club, I knew that Hardwell’s time was coming to an end and Pierce Fulton was about to close the night, because he’s a huge fan of Fulton. Fulton kept the crowd alive with his classics, like his songs “Sink or Swim” and “Mr. Mime.” This was an impressive feat considering he was on until after 6am.
Overall, the night was more than memorable. I met people who enjoy all aspects of EDM; tech enthusiasts, househeads, people who simply love to rave; but everyone was there to share their love of Hardwell. He inspired the crowd with his music to enjoy ourselves, and the most important part, in the words of the DJ himself, to “for the love of house, let me see you dance!”
–Marisa Bianco for EDMNYC