Since his inaugural debut production dating back to 2008, Hardwell has unequivocally cemented himself among an extremely select class of industry A-listers. The Dutchman initially drew electronic dance music fans in via heart-pounding and dynamic live performances at some of the planet’s most renowned music festivals. He’s since been extensively credited as one of the forefront pioneers of the bigroom house genre with not only his own music, but his main stage appearances where he incorporates never-before-heard creations from a multitude of artists.
Hardwell stunned the dance music world in early Spetember 2018 with the announcement that he would be taking an indefinite leave of absence from touring life in order to focus on his health and personal endeavors. The message arrived as a bittersweet moment, but fans were more than understanding and respected his decision—especially following the passing of Avicii earlier in the year after he faced extensive mental health obstacles.
While Hardwell continues to spend his much-needed and well-deserved off period in his hometown of Breda, we endlessly reminisce about the historic occasions of his mind-numbing mainstage appearances throughout each and every festival season. During the final performance at his Symphony event at Amsterdam Dance Event alongside the Metropole Orkest, Hardwell addressed the Dutch crowd with a tear-jerking farewell speech that concluded with “I will be back!” To hold us over until that eventual day does arrive, we attempted reduce his illustrious DJ tenture into just five of his most distinguished moments.
Sunset Performance at Ultra Music Festival 2013
Hardwell’s performance at Ultra Music Festival in 2013, which Dancing Astronaut labeled as ‘the unanimous fan favorite set‘ immediately following, is widely regarded as the irrefutable starting point in the mainstream bigroom house movement. The nearly one-hour set held in the midst of downtown Miami, that ignited during a breathtaking spring break sunset, was only the DJ’s second appearance at the iconic dance music festival. Hardwell experimented with a 20-song tracklist that contained productions that would soon convert into an abundance of dance music’s most nostalgic anthems. Introducing the Miami audience to an orchestral rendition of his timeless single, “Spaceman“, Hardwell did let up in the slightest, unleashing Sebastian Ingrosso and Alesso’s “Calling“, his collaboration “Jumper” with W&W and even had Dyro join him on stage for the premiere of “Never Say Goodbye“.
Return to Tomorrowland in 2018
One of the summer’s most anticipated performances calendar after calendar has been Hardwell’s return to Boom, Belgium, where he stood atop Tomorrowland’s mainstage and delivered a full 60 minutes of fast-paced bigroom. After a two-year hiatus from the renowned international festival, Hardwell officially reappeared on the event’s headliner billing to close Tomorrowland’s preeminent structure during the first evening of weekend one. Commencing with an aptly-crafted introductory edit and bootleg of Eminem’s “Without Me”, Hardwell delivered fan-favorite after fan favorite with his still unreleased “Old School ID”, a flawless mashup of “One Kiss” vs. “Bigroom Never Dies” and an impassioned grand finale featuring Ran-D’s “Zombie”. The moment of the performance that caught everyone’s attention, however, was when Hardwell reached for the mic to unveil the official follow up to his 2012 smash hit “Apollo” with “Being Alive“.
Historic 2017 Sophomore Edition of Hardwell’s Biggest Guestlist Festival
In December of 2015, Hardwell brought an astounding 80,000 fans together for one special event in Mumbai, India for his inaugural ‘World’s Biggest Guestlist Festival’. After an immensely successful first edition alongside the non-profit company Magic Bus to benefit underprivileged children, Hardwell took aim at shattering the first-year’s fundraising mark with the help of W&W, Kill the Buzz and much more. Hardwell delivered a near two-hour performance in front of more than 75,000 fans, playing out some of his most revered edits and mashups and a handful of unreleased productions including his hardstyle collaboration with Wildstylez, “Shine A Light”. The event was able to secure enough donations for more than 100,000 Indian children, who were at the receiving end of the charity’s education initiatives.
First Major Festival Appearance As DJ Mag Top 100’s #1 DJ
Hardwell was awarded with what would be his first of two titles as the number one DJ according to DJ Mag’s fan-voted Top 100 poll in October 2013. Excluding his celebratory performance at Amsterdam Music Festival following the vote reveal, Hardwell’s presence at Ultra Music Festival in 2014 marked the Dutchman’s inaugural major festival performance as defending champion. Clocking in at just over an hour, the display in downtown Miami has been widely lauded as one of, if not, the lone greatest performance of Hardwell’s extensive tenure. Opening with an unreleased cinematic introduction, which would later be known as “Eclipse“, Hardwell unleashed ID after ID in tandem with the unveiling of his remix for Armin van Buuren’s “Ping Pong”, Audien’s remix of “Pompeii” along with a closing hardstyle edit of “Spaceman” and Blasterjaxx and W&W’s “Rocket“.
Final Performance With Metropole Orkest Before Hiatus
After disclosing his impending retirement plans from the DJ world, Hardwell noted that his all-ages event during Amsterdam Dance Event alongside the Grammy-nominated Metropole Orkest would mark his official concluding performance. Through the help of the 52-person orchestra, Hardwell navigated through 30 years of dance music, taking attendees on a nostalgic adventure with the most recognizable productions in mankind. Beginning with early 1980s classics such as Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, Hardwell led the journey towards modern hits such as Avicii’s “Levels” and his collaboration with the Metropole Orkest known as “Conquerers“. The celebration of music finished with the aforementioned speech from the Revealed Recordings boss where he stood in front of a crowd chanting his name and thanked them for being there with him before teasing his inevitable comeback.
Featured image: Rukes