Wouter de Vink
By Wouter de Vink

From the moment that the most iconic event said it’s goodbye back in 2012, many gabbers from all around the world were hoping for a comeback ever since. But after five years of waiting, this dream was finally fulfilled and that moment was last Saturday. Oh boy, we have been looking forward to this one… Welcome to another edition of Thunderdome!

The Wizard is back

That we weren’t the only ones that didn’t want to miss the comeback of the Wizard, was already clear when the ticket sales for Thunderdome – 25 Years of Hardcore started. All available 40.000 tickets were sold out within 30 minutes like hotcakes.

On our way to the event, we already saw numerous of bald heads, Nike Air Max and rainbow colored Australian suits passing by far outside Utrecht. Once we entered the Jaarbeurs venue, we were overwhelmed by the size of the event. Which makes total sense when there are six different stages and dozens of artists present. The lucky few – including us – were about to give an ode to hardcore and so we knocked on the doors of the location quite early so we wouldn’t miss a single thing. That it would be this big, was about to hit us when we entered the dance floor of that gigantic mainstage.

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Big things happening at the mainstage

We believe that this area was big enough for ten airplanes to land on; it was that huge. The Wizard was heavily featured as center piece of the stage and supported by tons of lights and LED screens. Pretty fancy! Amada opened the mainstage by welcoming the early birds with her set. This chick is bad ass to the bone and if someone is hardcore, then it would be Amada. Although the event had just started, she got the gabbers already dancing with tracks like ‘Raw Generation’ and ‘Drunk With A Gun’. Amada knew exactly what it takes to open the stage of such a legendary event and couldn’t have done it any better.

Decipher took it over and he was constantly bouncing enthusiastically all the way up and down the DJ booth during his set. We noticed quite early that we would go all out this night, since the Australian DJ pushed the tempo at this time with ‘Breek De Tent Af’. The floor got crowded really soon and the energy of all the gabbers was beautiful to watch. We noticed that they were looking forward to this moment for a very long time. Decipher knew how to act on this and with this great start of the night, we couldn’t wait to see what Thunderdome had left in store for us.

We were going for a walk around the venue and this way we found out that the organization already had planned which direction we had to walk. Using fences, which they also use for cattle, the corridors around the mainstage were streamlined into several one way streets. Quite clumsy if you ask me, since it would take about 45 minutes for you to come back after a small visit to the lockers. That’s only if you were able to find your way back, because weirdly enough a couple of stages were closed down during the night because they were ‘over crowded’. I’ve been told that this was a demand from the fire department, which the organization had no influence on.

So we decided to have a look at the other stages and one was even more awesome than the other. The second area Heroes of Hardcore looked like a mainstage on its self and was packed with millenium hardcore lovers who went on a musical journey through time. Especially the set by Endymion & The Viper was outstanding! Tracks from the golden age, like ‘Payback’ and ‘Coming Home’ rushed through the speakers and the audience participated to the max. Yeah, the atmosphere in this area is just like what we can remember from the earlier Thunderdome editions.

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Pick up the pace

At the Uptempo Cage the BPM flew over your head and knocked you over. A lot of heavy weights where featured on the line-up, like Tieum and Andy The Core. We visited the set by Scarphase and everyone around us was hakking their socks off, obviously. Probably because Scarphase hit the studio as well to deliver some special Thunderdome edits and because ‘Cold As Ice’ is such a damn good track. The ambiance here was also outstanding and this was a confirmation for us that uptempo hardcore belongs to Thunderdome. Just like the legendary Tunnel of Terror, a small but awesome stage with lots of terror addicts. Drokz brought us a set like we all know from him: energetic, but mainly hard. When ‘Hardcore Won’t Die Till I Die’ passed by you felt straight away that the track title was right: Hardcore will never die!

The Thundergods stage was for the enthusiasts of early hardcore and all the big hero’s from back in the days were programmed at this area. Gizmo, Buzz Fuzz, Rob Gee and many others performed like they did years ago. The present visitors knew all the tracks from the top of their heads so easily, damn… We rapidly went to the Industrial Dome, because when you say ‘Thunderdome’ you say break beats and snares. This area was unbelievably big, but because of the industrial decoration it felt very intimate. In addition to that, Thunderdome icon MC Justice got back from his retirement to support the industrial stage with his vocals. The area exploded when ‘Push It To The Limit’ got played by Igneon System and The DJ Producer. Awesome to watch!

Back to the mainstage, where the final hours of the night began and Dr. Peacock squeezed a shit load of frenchcore in 30 minutes during his live set. The venue was still packed: it went totally mayhem when he played ‘Trip To Ireland’ and thousands piece of confetti in shape of The Wizard felt out of the air. The feet moved even more from the floor when Partyraiser and Drokz closed down the main area. It was quite clearly to see that both of these gentlemen had, just like the visitors, been looking forward to the return of Thunderdome. During ‘Thunderdome Mash-Up 2.0’ by Vandal!sm the lasers got shot through the sky and it was nice to see that the area was still full with people who didn’t want to miss the ending of the night. Of course Drokz closed of the night with a ritual with a microphone in his hand… “THUNDERDOOOOOOOOME!”

Conclusion Thunderdome – 25 Years Of Hardcore

The 25th anniversary of Thunderdome had to be celebrated and I’m glad that the most iconic hardcore event returned for this occasion. The line-up was on point and the visitors were outstanding; they were so excited! Young, old, bald or from Mars, all gabbers were present in all shapes and forms. We wouldn’t miss this party for the world and the atmosphere – there it is again – was absolute class.

Perhaps that our expectations were a little too high, but some things are not Thunderdome worthy in my eyes. For example the one way traffic, which caused a lot of chaos and haziness. It turned into a difficult maze sometimes, but I understand that this is a logistic solution to let as many visitors as possible attend the event. Besides that there were pillars right in front of the DJ booth and that’s not a pretty sight to see. But it’s quite impossible to move the pillars where roof is build on and this issue was solved by moving yourself a couple of meters to the side so you could see the DJ’s performing again.

These arguments can’t compete with all the benefits that the party gave us though. Thunderdome had a huge impact on the scene and last Saturday showed us that that is still the case. There’s no other like Thunderdome and that’s why we are over the moon with the comeback of The Wizard. We are extremely hoping that this wasn’t a one night thing and can’t wait for a possible (annual) continuation. Thunderdome will never die!

Rating

  • Line-up85%
  • Venue65%
  • Sound75%
  • Stages80%
  • Show90%
  • Atmosphere95%

Overall
rating

82%

“There are lots of hardcore parties, but there is none like Thunderdome.” These are the words by a gabber who visited The Final Exam and his quote is still relevant if we look at Thunderdome – 25 Years of Hardcore. An amazing atmosphere, phat decoration and the best that hardcore has to offer all combined. There a few points of improvement, but that we even had the chance to celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Wizard is the biggest gift you can give to a hardcore raver.

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