Rob & The Stunned Guys about the new back2school edition: “An ode to the Energiehal & Parkzicht!”

Nina van Zelst
By Nina van Zelst

On Christmas Eve The Stunned Guys and Rob will bring an ode to classics during a new edition of back2school – one of B2S’ most famous concepts. “Back to the roots”, the roots they have lived through and of course know everything about. We talked to the men about celebrating the 30th anniversary of house in Rotterdam, the iconic Energiehal & Parkzicht locations, The Stunned Guys’ goodbye and much more. 


This year, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of house in Rotterdam. The Stunned Guys lived through the times both house and hardcore music started to emerge. “I will never forget the first time I performed in Rotterdam: Nightmare at Energiehal on the 25th of February 1995. Besides the amazing experience of performing there, I was completely shocked by the atmosphere and the audience.” Since there was no internet back then, Maxx really didn’t know anything about being a gabber before that night, “but I immediately felt I was joining a very special family of party people, truly dedicated just like myself.”

“Energiehal has been a second home to gabbers, and for good reason”

During back2school 2019, B2S will honour two legendary locations of the past: Parkzicht and the Energiehal, “the birthplace of hardcore”. Throughout the years, The Stunned Guys has performed numerous times at the Energiehal during some of the most iconic hardcore events. “I think Energiehal has kind of been a ‘second home’ to all gabbers, and for good reason: it was a very ‘rude’ location, no frills and straight to the point, as hardcore music is. And, most of all, it was one of the places where the very first big hardcore raves had taken place, giving the hardcore scene its identity.”

Even though Maxx has experienced loads of special moments in the Energiehal, he is quick to recall his favorite memory. “The day before our first performance at Nightmare in Rotterdam, I went to Energiehal for the sound check – it was a real live performance with equipment playing live.” After the setup, everything was ready to go and the audio guy told him he could start playing some music. “So I pressed the kickdrum button on my TR-909… The sound system was unbelievable, it was like an earthquake, and such a “boom” was completely unexpected. This memory will stay in my mind forever.”

“Back in those days, ‘Rotterdam’ was the name given by Italian party people to the hardcore genre itself”

Because of these iconic events, Rotterdam became internationally well-known within the house scene. Being Italian, The Stunned Guys could experience the growth of Rotterdam and hardcore international as well. “If we speak about icons, I can definitely tell you a nice story: back in those days, ‘Rotterdam’ was the name given by Italian party people to the hardcore genre itself. Right back from the first Nightmare gig at Energiehal in 1995, I’ve thrown some club parties in Milan called ‘Milano-Rotterdam'”. 

By now, 30 (!) years later, both the scene and the music have changed – an evolution Maxx was able to follow with a very close eye. “Hardcore music has been evolving throughout the years mostly because of the passion and dedication of artists & producers who have improved the quality of the sound and have developed new styles, which are always keeping the scene fresh without losing the roots of the genre.” If there is anything that could be learned from the early days according to The Stunned Guys: “Focus on music. Good, inspired music is the foundation of the scene.”

“Guys, thank you for these amazing decades of hardcore”

On the 24th of December a brand new edition of back2school will take place, for which the Maassilo will be the place we’ll look back on the roots of hardcore. For Maxx this edition will be extra special, since it will be his very final DJ performance in the Netherlands. “I will end my career as The Stunned Guys in the same town where it all started, so it has a very deep meaning to me. During back2school I will play the best tracks I’ve produced, especially all those tracks somehow connected to the Rotterdam scene of those days.” 

According to The Stunned Guys, you therefore definitely don’t want to miss this new edition. “Hardcore lovers will have another chance to feel that particular vibe which many gabbers had the luck to experience in the 90s: some visitors of back2school will revamp and remind their passion, some others – the new generation – will better understand what the hardcore vibe in the 90s was.” To close down the interview, The Stunned Guys wants to say his goodbyes to the scene.

“Since 1993 I’ve had the privilege of exploring and developing the sound of the hardcore scene, I’ve had the chance to perform all over the world, always with the same energy and passion of the first time, and I’ve always been supported and driven by the amazing hardcore crowd, which is the only and real heart of the scene I love. I’ve worked with great artists and met new friends who I wouldn’t know without hardcore music. I know I will miss the stage and I know I will miss the fans: guys, thank you for these amazing decades of hardcore.”


Also Rob has been there since the very first moment, and can tell more than enough about 30 years of house music in Rotterdam – in which he also played a big part. “The cradle of the harder and totally different sound, which I played after a period of a year of Parkzicht, was a shock for the house minded Netherlands. You have to imagine I undertook a kind of revolution regarding the standard sound in clubs. I really wanted to focus on something completely different – not following the patterns that were then ingrained in going out. No, I was looking for new music with a somehow rougher sound!”

Rob visited record stores in Belgium, Germany and England for the “most crazy music, from which everyone thought what the fuck is this guy playing haha!” He rebuilt these records live on 3 turntables in combination with a Roland TR0909, “this was always really cool and fun. Because of all this, I also brought a lot of inspiration to the DJs around me, who then started working on new kicks and sounds, too. Think of guys like Gizmo, Michel de Heij, Paul Elstak. They started experimenting and Rotterdam got its sound… HARDCORE!” 

“I pretty much lived in Parkzicht, I was there from 9 at night until 9 in the morning”

And so gabber originated, a true subculture within the Netherlands. According to Rob really nothing has changed since then: “We just went against everything and everyone; private problems, school, politics, bureaucracy. Just like how the music flows through your body, because the kicks and sounds reflected all of your and your friends’ thoughts.” To Rob, gabber was a way of life, “a life style that lived both on the dancefloor and within your group of friends.” 

As the new edition of back2school will highlight the Energiehal era, of course Parkzicht cannot be left out. Throughout the years the most iconic hardcore events have took place there, and Rob was one of its residents. “I pretty much lived in Parkzicht, I was there from 9 at night until 9 in the morning haha! What made this location so legendary was its amazing atmosphere. There was such a feeling of solidarity and everyone was welcome; it didn’t matter what you looked like or where you came from. You were welcomed into the group, you exchanged numbers and you just kept on making new friends!”

“Some things in life you just cannot miss, and this is one of them!”

According to Rob, Parkzicht has had a huge influence on everyone producing music at the time, because here you could do anything you wanted. “Parkzicht has been at the start of a complete revolution in music. Hardcore is Rotterdam: the sound, the experience and the atmosphere.” Everything just made sense, and the genre caused an entire cultural shock in the Netherlands that still continues to this very day.

In exactly one week from now the Maassilo will look back on these hardcore roots, where according to B2S you will witness the very best of oldschool & early rave. Also Rob will pay tribute to Parkzicht and the hardcore roots. “I really want to make the Maassilo vibrate with a big pile of Parkzicht bangers. Maybe I even want to go a bit deeper to create euphoric goosebumps. Some things in life you just cannot miss, and this is one of them!”

back2school will take place in the Maassilo in Rotterdam on 24th December 2019. Tickets for this Christmas eve spectacle are still available via the official website of the event, where you can also find more information.

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