Independent Philly

Scene, Not Herd

Hardwell at District N9ne

On Monday, October 28th, NV Concepts and MASS EDMC presented ‘Wicked Halloween’ at District N9ne with headliner Hardwell.

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There’s been a lot of debate recently about what is the right recipe for a successful EDM show in Philadelphia. With the market flooded with promoters and venues all trying to get a piece of the pie, many shows that would have been a hit a year or two ago have failed in recent months. It seems like Halloween week is always a good time to throw an event as people are eager to come out to show off their costumes if nothing else. That being said, Mondays are always a risky night to try to draw a large crowd.

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We’ll call Monday and Halloween week a push, which puts us back at square one. Hardwell however, is a game changer. Having been recently anointed the World’s #1 DJ in the DJ MAG Top 100 DJs poll (not that we give that any credence) we knew that fans young & old would be chomping at the bit to see him throw down in one of Philly’s more intimate venues.

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When MASS EDMC announced a contest for DJs to open the show, they received over 170 submissions. Evidently, some of them were pretty terrible. Thankfully, a handful of them really stood out and after mulling it over they selected DJ M3 as the official opening DJ. We were unable to make it in time for his set which went from 9-1030pm, but we heard good things about it once we arrived.

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When we got to the venue around 11pm there was a pretty massive line of people waiting to get in. Inside, District N9ne was already packed and Bamboora was throwing down some house and electro bangers that had the dance floor rocking. As we suspected they would be, many attendees were rocking Halloween costumes, some elaborate and others, not so much.

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From the fans pressed up against the barrier at the front, to those in the VIP table area along the sides, to those spanning the dance floor, to the people in the back, everyone appeared to be having a fantastic time. As much fun as everyone was already having it was clear that everyone was holding back just a bit, letting the excitement build for Hardwell’s set which kicked off at midnight.

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When the witching hour finally arrived and Bamboora’s set concluded, fans began to chant Hardwell’s name. Moments later, the dutch house DJ appeared behind the decks, grabbed the microphone and welcomed Philadelphia to the main event. We knew from speaking to Hardwell the last time he played the venue (at that time it was still Starlight Ballroom) in 2012 that it was one of his favorite places to play and from the reaction of the packed house, it was easy to see why.

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For the next two hours the place was (almost) literally going bananas as Hardwell dropped a seasoned mix of new hits and recently classics that had everyone dancing, singing, and raging as one hot and sweaty collective group (nothing like hearing a room full of people chant “Welcome to the Jungle, bitch”). Framed between a large digital screen (behind him) and several CO2 canons (at the front of the stage), Hardwell did his fair share of getting down along with the crowd.

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When 2am finally rolled around and his set ended, fans continued to chant “one more song” until he reappeared on stage to appease them. At the end of his brief encore, the crowd chanted “Number 1” as he slipped away into the green room. We didn’t speak to a single person all evening that didn’t thoroughly enjoy the night (a few people mentioned that it was crowded but if you came there not expecting a crowd, you were at the wrong place).

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Wicked Halloween was proof that, even though the Philly market might be flooded with EDM shows at the moment, those who put out a quality product will be successful, regardless of the venue, night of the week, or weather (which also happened to be very pleasant last night). All’s well that Hardwell. It was the perfect way to kick off a Halloween week that is action packed with shows in the area.

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[Photo credit: D. Jacob Miller Photography]

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You can view some additional photos in the gallery below (click thumbnails to enlarge):

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