Seattle is a city of pride. The residents love their gloomy weather, evergreen trees, and sports that no other city would otherwise think twice about. In many ways, hardstyle is the same way. It’s a genre that gives off that distinct “we happy few” vibe, while tapping into the most basic urges of its listeners. Every few tracks during a live set, a song will proclaim “this is hardstyle.” It’s not because anyone’s forgotten (at a constant 150 bpm, how could you?), rather it acts as a constant reminder that what you’re a part of is something truly special. As the Toneshifterz anthem goes, “it’s all about the music, and it always has been.”
When Coone, Headhunterz, and Brennan Heart took over Foundation Nightclub, that pride was in tow. While hardstyle has yet to completely make it out of Europe and into the American mainstream, it only seems natural that Seattle becomes the town to lay down the groundwork. The moment the night’s first act Coone jumped on stage, that distinct Northwest energy became palpable. With quick frenetic builds, he would bounce from drop to drop, as a room completely in sync seemed determined to jump until their legs gave out.
In a show of true appreciation for the city that welcomed him with open arms, Coone dove headfirst into Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us,” tumbling seamlessly into a steady percussive fervor. As his set came to a close, on to the stage jumped the iconic shaved-head of the man we’d all been waiting for.
Occupying the #11 spot on last year’s DJ Mag top 100, Headhunterz is the patron saint of hardstyle (it’s worth mentioning that all three DJs in attendance landed inside of the top 50 as well). A wild handful of people were treated to his last performance in the Northwest at Paradiso, which rather inconveniently aligned directly with some guy named Tiesto over on the mainstage. Playing late into the night, he delivered a set unlike any other artist in attendance. The energy he brought to Foundation on a Thursday night though, was something else entirely.
With his infectious stage presence, Headhunterz danced and cavorted along with his disciples on the dancefloor, all while pouring his heart into every track. As we belted out the lyrics to the vocal breaks and leapt fist-first into the air with every drop, it was happiness in its most primal form. Soon Headhunterz’ signature track, “Dragonborn,” burst forth from the speakers as the man of the hour jumped up on the decks, towering over the rest of the room. His face lit up with a grin that stretched from ear-to-ear, as a grateful crowd returned his joy in kind. T-shirts were thrown, “fus-ro-dahs” were bellowed, and there wasn’t a single stationary person to be found.
By the time Brennan Heart took the stage to finish off the night, the room was ready to conclude their night of raucous fist-pumping and jumping. The intensity of the room began to wane, but not for lack of trying. Everyone contentedly settled into sing-along mode, as Heart closed out the night’s affairs to a crowd that was pouring every last bit of energy they had into what was left of the night.
The music eventually faded away, and the sore yet satisfied partygoers filed wearily out the exits. We all made our way home, reminiscing to each other about a night that won’t soon be forgotten. There was a certain pride that surfaced in every one of us, as if what we’d just witnessed was like nothing else Seattle had ever experienced. The moment each of our heads hit the pillow that night, you can bet that the steady “bonk, bonk, bonk, bonk, bonk,” of hardstyle echoed through our dreams. We hope you’re ready for hardstyle Seattle, because it’s certainly ready for you.
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