Every year at the end of February or at the beginning of March, its time for Belgium’s leading hardstyle festival – Reverze. This year ‘s theme was all about time – Time will tell. HardstyleMag was there and this is how we perceived the 19th edition.
On March 12, 2022, 20,000 hard dance fanatics gathered at the Sportpaleis in Antwerp, Belgium for the 19th edition of Reverze. For many, this was the first major indoor hard dance event since the beginning of the pandemic just two years prior. Reverze was in a unique position that they were one of the only hard dance events that was seemingly unaffected by the cancellations resulting from COVID-19. The two previous editions of Reverze were held in September 2021 and March 2020, when events were permitted to happen again in Belgium, and of course shortly before the inception of the pandemic, respectively.
REVERZE FROM JUMP STYLE TO TEK
Reverze is an iconic hard dance indoor event hosted by Bass Events. I use the word iconic here because what sets Reverze apart from the hundreds of other hard dance events in the region is the inclusion of a specific subgenre that is often overlooked these days in the hard dance community known as “jump” and “tek”. Jumpstyle originated in Belgium in the late 1990s and quickly became a phenomenon in not only Belgium but in the Netherlands, Germany, and Czech Republic. Unfortunately, the genre and accompanying style of dancing was short-lived however, jumpstyle eventually evolved into what we now know today as “jump” or “tek”. Events that incorporate jump or tek acts into their line ups are few and far between. Despite not growing up in Europe I spent many hours scrolling on YouTube watching extremely talented people dancing to jumpstyle all over Europe. For me personally, as a 90s kid and a nostalgia junkie, the fact that Reverze is known for incorporating this style of music made it a must attend for me.
TIME WILL TELL
This edition of Reverze was themed ‘Time Will Tell’ which was evident by the stage design of the main stage at the Sportpaleis. A large clock hung from the ceiling coupled with incredible moving visuals and a stained-glass mosaic. The production was defined by the amalgamation of ornate cathedral aesthetics coupled with trippy visuals and the most insane lasers I’ve ever seen in my entire life (and I’ve been raving all over the world for 13 years). This can only be paraphrased in three short words, this was Reverze.
So let’s talk about what actually went down on March 12th. It goes without saying that the line up was stacked with its usual heavy hitters such as Brennan Heart, Radical Redemption, Sefa, Sub Zero Project, TNT and many more. Reverze consisted of two stages, the Sportpaleis & the Lotto Arena.
Which are really two separate connected arenas. We arrived at the venue around 23:00, the intention was to get there around 22:00 but trying to find the parking lot turned into a journey of its own. We found out the hard way after multiple turnarounds that the parking lot was not the one attached to the venue but rather a 15-minute walk. The lack of clear signs of where to go and the extreme traffic in the area made the first part of the evening quite chaotic however it made it more worth it when we finally got inside!
E TOKEN SYSTEM
Once entering the premises after scanning your ticket and going through the security are the lockers. There was no wait or line at VIP, we got through extremely quickly. The only downside of the lockers being outside is that if you need something from the locker at a later point in the night you have to go all the way outside to retrieve your items. We were also only given one locker key for the two of us. Two girls with very large puffy winter coats with one very small locker but we made it work. Once inside the venue you can load money on to a card to use instead of tokens.
GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
This is a great step in a more sustainable direction as tokens are often made of plastic and end up in the garbage at the end of the night. The cards are easy to top up and the drinks were very reasonable (around 3.50 euros for a beer). Once you receive the card, you’re given an Eco Token. When you buy your first drink you present the Eco Token to the bartender, then each time you come back for another drink you must either return your empty drink or the eco token otherwise you have to pay extra. This is an initiative we are seeing more and more at events to encourage recycling and to prevent the sea of plastic cups that accumulate on the floor at the end of the night. Of course, naturally, I lost my eco token within the first five seconds of being at the venue but following each drink I saved my cup or bottle and was able to save money while simultaneously doing my part for the environment.
Next stop was to hit up the merchandise booth. There were various merchandise stands throughout the venues with fans, wristbands, hoodies, T-shirts, caps and more. You could purchase official Reverze merchandise but also merchandise from some of the artists performing and from Bass Events.
As previously mentioned, the Sportpaleis is really two arenas combined. Each area had tiered stadium seating if you wanted to chill for a bit and still enjoy the show in addition to various levels of VIP decks with private bars. The venue was much larger than I anticipated and by 23:00 it was already packed. Once I got more accustomed to the routes it was very easy to crossover from stage to stage without having to go outside in the cold. The outside area was wonderfully illuminated with string lights. There were various food vendors both inside and outside including places to get hot dogs, pizza, pasta, fries, burgers, and more. I can’t say much about the price, variety, or quality of food as I didn’t eat at the party, but I did see some people walking by with various dishes and the food looked tasty!
EARLY HARDSTYLE POWER
The first set of the night for us at Sportpaleis was TNT (the Italian duo comprised of Tuneboy and Technoboy). They threw down a blend of new and classic reverse bass tracks such as “Teknogym 2K19” and “The Realm”. Next up was Zatox. One of the most memorable moments from this set for me was when he dropped the track “COVID (I Hate You) with MC Villian. It was really something to see everyone in unison screaming the lyrics after two years of silence. Two years without the quintessential moment of a party where you and the crowd regardless of where you are from or how you got there can all relate to the theme of that track so much that there is only one thing you can do, scream, sing, and middle fingers up. After everything the scene has been through in the last two years this was really a special moment.
BRENNAN HEART ANTHEM
Following Zatox was Brennan Heart. Brennan Heart opened with the 2022 Reverze Anthem “Time Will Tell”. This track with the insane visuals and moving clocks and pyrotechnics was a sight to see! My second favorite moment of this set was when Brennan Heart dropped his remix of Delirium ft. Sarah McLachlan- “Silence”. Not sure if it was just me but did he end that track with a little uptempo? Brennan Heart ending with uptempo? Is this what we can expect for 2022? If so, sign me up!
Next up we headed over to the Lotto Arena for Sick Mode. Sick Mode threw down the usual bangers such as “Klaplongen” and his track with Mish “One and Only”. We ended up catching the tail end of Sub-Zero Project and I noticed on the screen their new project “Make Art Not War”. This is an important message for the current geopolitical climate, and as my company is Drop Bass Not Bombs, I thoroughly appreciated that!
KICK ME BACK – FLASHBACK
Then it was time for the set I was most excited for Reverze Flashback XL. Flashback is a staple of Reverze where legends throw down those jumps and tek tracks that I so long for. This year’s Flashback included Mark with a K, Ruthless, Dark-E, Pat B, Lethal MG and MC Chucky. This incredible 45-minute jam packed set took us back in time with jams such as “Better Off Alone”, “There’s No Limit”, and “Nobody Likes the Records that you Play”. These throwback moments provide that hit of dopamine filled nostalgia that we so longingly craved for especially during the pandemic. The good ole days and tracks that just simply make you want to smile and sing your heart out and forget about all the problems going on in the world.
We then spent the remainder of the night at the Lotto Arena. Riot Shift presented their new live act Dystopia. The best way I can describe Dystopia for those who were not there is think metal meets rawstyle meets uptempo. The visuals for this set were insane and albeit a bit scary. This dark, brutal, presentation also included live vocals. The innovation and creation behind the set made it incredibly memorable and definitely one not to miss.
UPTEMPO WITH DRS
Last up for the night was DRS. What makes DRS sets so unique is the dedication of his fans aka the DRS Army decked out in his merch, up against the rail, knowing every single lyric to every track. The energy for his sets is unparalleled and this night was no exception. One song we all sang together was “Warriors”, what a great way to end the night!
So my overall impressions. My top three sets of the night were Flashback XL, DRS, and Sick Mode. Both areas had incredible visuals and great sound and overall production. I really appreciated the efforts towards sustainability (so long as you don’t lose your eco token!) and of course what Reverze is best known for the insane lasers. My only feedback would be to have some more clear signs of where to go with regard to parking and within the venue especially for those not from the area. The arena and surrounding area can be a bit of a maze but aside from that it was an absolutely perfect night!
REVERZE 2023 IS ONLINE
Okay, Bass-Events already announced Reverze 2023 for March 4th. But yet, there is no title. But it is again definitely a must-go and until then, keep an eye on the event page.