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Friday 29th March, finally the day had arrived! Up early after not much sleep, as the anticipation and excitement had gotten the better of me, I made my way to St Pancras to catch the Eurostar to Brussels for my first experience of Rampage.

After checking in and clearing security, I grabbed a coffee and a seat and put some tunes on while I waited. After a couple of minutes, I spotted some familiar faces sitting opposite me. After a quick check on Facebook to confirm my suspicions (I’m not a fan of making a complete arse of myself!) I approached the high energy duo Koven and introduced myself. We hit it off and I spent the remainder of the waiting time with them.

A few hours later I eventually made it to the hotel in Antwerp (after taking a serious detour on the Metro, having gone in the wrong direction for about 30 minutes, not my finest moment haha!). I checked in and headed straight for the bar, I was in dire need of a beer at this stage!

Showered, fed and suitably hydrated, I met up with the rest of the ‘press gang’ and we made our way to Antwerps Sportpaleis.

Round One

Photography: Philippe Wuyts

We arrived right at the end of Harriet Jaxxon, Liz-E and Tekitoka’s set where they were going b2b and let me tell you, the place was absolutely bouncing at 9:20pm and not far off its 15,500 capacity! Those girls smashed it, repping female DJs and the UK, it was a very proud moment.

After a quick reccy I returned to find Alix Perez, Skeptical and SP:MC tearing the place apart with some minimal, deep, dark rollers, proving again why these three are titans of the underground scene.

Photography: Philippe Wuyts

I’d heard rumours of Rampage stepping up their production to celebrate their 10 years but what I was not expecting was robots on the stage during the next set. It was time for my first taste of dubstep in 6 years! Infekt b2b Mvrda was insane! Everywhere I looked people were hanging on to the railings and headbanging…total madness!

The Mostercat Showcase followed featuring Koven b2b Muzzy b2b Fox Stevenson b2b Feint. The energy from each individual was extraordinary! Seeing them all take it in turns to jump around on the decks was crazy! Katie’s voice is phenomenal and even with all the jumping around, she sounded amazing as they dropped track after track getting the huge crowd riled up into a frenzy. Towards the end of the set Fox played his new single and a mosh pit unsued!

Photography: Jakob Hallaert

By this time the arena was full and it was time for Dimension to take to the decks. When he double dropped his track ‘If You Want To’ and Culture Shock ‘Bunker’ the crowd went crazy! Dimension played banger after banger and for me was one of the most fun sets. He let tracks play out and the crowd got fully lost in his set. Another highlight was hearing ‘Raver’ as it’s one of my favourite Dimension tunes. Before we knew it, it was the end.

No time to breathe it was time for Excision and his mad AV set. If you’ve ever seen any of it on YouTube you will know how crazy this is but seeing it in real life was “unbelievable Jeff!” I only saw a little bit of it but that was enough. I dare say there was people tripping their nuts off when dinosuars started to come out of the wall behind the booth and all the lights and lasers in the Sportpalies were used at once!

Photogaphy: Sil Vanderbruggen

Sub Focus and Wilkinson were next up along with MC ID and MC Ad-Apt and as you can imagine there were scenes of epic proportion as people sang along and skanked their hearts out. When they dropped ‘Timewarp’ there was absolute carnage as everyone jumped around, huge grins all over everyone’s faces. ‘Dirty Love’, ‘Tidal Wave’ and ‘Half-Light’ were obviously massive sing-a-longs as people hugged it out during a union of souls! I was approached by some guys who I’d shared a moment with earlier on, they had discarded their footwear and were skanking barefoot. They encouraged me to join in, saying you could feel all the vibrations in your feet from the raised platform we were on. Of course, I shook off my trainers and joined in…and loved every second!

Photography: Philippe Wuyts

Next was Macky Gee ft IC3 – the surprise set of the night is what I heard countless times the following day around the hotel. Personally, I’m a big fan of Macky and thoroughly enjoyed his set. Obviously when ‘Tour’ was dropped it was epic, despite it being played 3/4 times already by that point. When you witness a DJ dropping their own tracks on such a huge platform it’s like the tune reaches another level, it’s a special moment. IC3 is an MC who is big in the game and an all-round great guy who doesn’t overkill on the mic and lets tunes breathe and speak for themselves, more of this please.

I managed to catch a bit of Culprate b2b Signal b2b Disprove and man can those guys work a crowd! As soon as they stepped on stage cheers rang throughout the arena. Signal was first up and delivered some heavy dnb which Disprove took even heavier. Literally track after track was absolutely banging and so full of energy, perfect to keep the party going for the last set of the night. Culprate dropped ‘Helter’and the lasers went crazy…WOW!!! They made sure they gave everyone something to talk about on the way back to their accommodation!

Round Two

After a day chilling out and seeing some sights, I will say here that Antwerp is a really beautiful city and worth visiting, whether you’re going to Rampage or not, it was time to make our way back to the Sportspaleis. This was the night I’d been most looking forward to and why I had taken it easy in the daytime to make sure my feet and knees wouldn’t let me down!

Photography: Philippe Wuyts

When we arrived it was still early, doors had been open for 2 hours and the arena was almost at capacity again. People just wanted to party as long as they could. I got a couple of drinks and then heard “Shells”! I spun around and was greeted by my new friend IC3 with his arms open wide. After a quick chat, I made my way into the arena as Benny L, T>I and MC Carasel were stepping up. This was gonna be good! Rollerz club assemble…it’s shellin season! This set was full of some incredible dubs, massive tracks and of course ‘Police In Helicopter’ which went off as Carasel encouraged everyone to show him their helicopters! Arms were waving in unison all around the Sportspaleis. Absolute scenes. This set was one of my favourites!

Photography: Jakob Hallaert

Next up it was the turn of Rampage main man Murdock and MC Mota. Murdock opened his set with his track ‘Soldiers’ the Rampage theme tune for this outing. Salutes everywhere! With the next track the whole place erupted and that’s where the levels stayed for the rest of his set. Lights, lasers and bassfaces all around the place as he played a big set full of energy and lots of quick mixing. Murdock lapped up the love from the crowd and got fully involved with them, as he joined in the jumping around. Oh and I almost forgot…the marriage proposal…she said yes!

Photography: Sil Vanderbruggen

After a quick break and it was back inside to get down amongst it for the executioner aka Andy C and his trusted companion Tonn Piper. I’d been to XOYO the week before which is always fun and I’m seeing him again tomorrow in my hometown so I decided I was going to take it easy during his set….pahahahhaaa!!! Who was I kidding?!! All I needed to hear was “Andy Andy Andy” and I was in!! As you would expect this set was a high octane rollercoaster, what else are you gonna do with a 1 hour set other than go hard?!

Photography: Jakob Hallaert

It had been 2 years since I’d seen the heavyweights of jump up DJ Hype and DJ Hazard go b2b, this time they had my new friend IC3 with them. I was buzzing for this! I’d made a plan with a guy the night before to meet for this set and as I reached the meeting point he was there. He was old skool like me and ready to have it…like me! We hooked up with another bunch of oldies and the 6 of us danced like it was 1996! Scratchmaster Hype was on top form, he’s an absolute wizard! The diversity these guys have and the way the bounce off each other having worked together for so many years now is astonishing. When they dropped ‘Machete’…OH MY GOD!!

Almost every single DJ paid their respects to Keith Flint who’s funeral it was on the Friday. It was amazing to witness the crowd come together in unity for one of the pioneers of the rave culture as they danced and sang their hearts out whenever a Prodigy track dropped. RIP Keith, you would have been proud of what you helped create.

What can I say about the production? Well…WOW is about all I can manage! Lasers on lasers, tonnes of confetti, loads of CO2, about a million lights, robots, AV screens the lot. Literally another level, almost futuristic. The sound was crystal clear which was crazy in a place that big. As a sufferer of Tinnitus I was expecting my ears to be driving me crazy afterwards but they’ve been fine.

Photography: Jakob Hallaert

The hospitality I was shown by everyone I met was second to none, nothing was too much trouble. I was asked if I was ok, and whether I needed anything or any help at all, from the hotel staff, coffee shop owners, bar staff and of course the organisers of Rampage who looked after me very well. Shouts to my fellow press officers, one of which we fully converted to dnb…it was a great weekend!

Rampage we salute you and will see you at Rampage Open Air


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