A Perfect Night at Shadows of Wonderland

Photo Credit: Katarina Cvetko

By: Katarina Cvetko

After travelling to festivals all over the world, I have finally made it back home to Australia for Melbourne’s very own Shadows Of Wonderland. Last weekend marked my very first music festival in Melbourne and I was absolutely blown away by the entire event! From the organisers of Brennan Heart’s I Am Hardstyle, Hard Kandy and Harder Styles United brought back Melbourne’s biggest hardstyle event for an incredible enchanted journey that proved to be truly magical! Here’s what I loved about the festival:

THE PLACE

Located at Melbourne’s Festival Hall, the venue has a capacity of about 5,000 making it one of the smaller festivals I’ve attended. I did however appreciate how well they used up the space, making it easy for ravers to get around with easy access to just about everything. I also spoke to a couple of artists before the show who all agreed that the size of the venue made the shows feel more intimate and exclusive which I definitely felt.

Photo Credit: Katarina Cvetko

General admission tickets granted access to the main dance floor while VIP tickets included access to the balcony overlooking the entire hall. The sides of the dance floor were also lined with seating areas giving ravers plenty of space to both sit and stand. Among the many bars, bathrooms, and free water stations, one thing stood out to me: The DanceWize Booth. I had previously seen this company at a festival in Sydney and was thrilled to see them again at this event. DanceWize is a Melbourne based peer education organisation that focuses on harm reduction and drug related education. Run by “party people looking after party people”, the booth featured a group of specially trained educators and a selection of material about the effects of illicit substances on the body. They also had free lollypops, mints, earplugs and condoms available. I absolutely love seeing organisations like these appear at festivals as it shows that the organisers of the event truly care about their attendees.

THE PEOPLE

I personally don’t like raving in Australia as we have developed a rather distinct and almost embarrassing rave culture. After attending Shadows Of Wonderland, I realised that it was only Sydney that fits under the stereotype and raving in Melbourne is an entirely different experience. Looking through the crowd, you could see all types of ravers. Some fit under the Sydney Stereotype but most of them closely resembled ravers from all over the world. There was such a diverse group of hardstyle lovers ranging from your typical American Kandi Kids to your old school Phat Pants Shufflers and just about everyone else in between. I also noticed a couple of international flags in the crowd too and it was so amazing to see so many different people come together for the love of the harder styles. The limited capacity of the event also established the atmosphere of the night as the majority of the crowd genuinely wanted to be there and enjoyed the music. 

THE PRODUCTION

Harder Styles United is known for their state of the art production and Shadows Of Wonderland delivered yet another world class performance. The perfect combination of visuals, lasers and pyro truly brought the forest and wonderland theme to life, accompanying the already impressive international line up. One of my favourite things about the harder styles is the way the artists are able to communicate their emotions through the music alone with visuals complimenting the sound rather than telling the entire story. HSU never fails to impress with their production and was definitely one of my favourite things about the event.

Photo Credit: Katarina Cvetko

THE PERFORMANCES

Hard Kandy and HSU delivered a powerful line up consisting of eight of the biggest names in the local and international hardstyle scene. Picking a favourite performance is almost impossible so here are my top three sets:

DA TWEEKAZ

Norwegian duo Kenth Kvien and Marcus Nordli are known for their highly energetic and entertaining performances. Their sets range from Disney remixes to original alcohol themed tracks and anything else that will have you dancing and singing along. One thing I absolutely loved about watching their set is seeing how much energy they put into their performance with one or both of them continuously partying behind the decks. I was also able to share my very first shot of Jagermeister with them on stage as they played one of their latest tracks Jagermeister and it was easily one of my favourite festival memories to date. Check out the video here.

Photo Credit: Katarina Cvetko

NOISECONTROLLERS

One of the pioneers of the harder styles, Noisecontrollers played an original set full of classic hardstyle anthems that truly captured the Spirit Of Hardstyle. Seeing how excited he got when dropping some of his most popular tracks put the biggest smile on my face and the entire crowd reacted in the same way!

Photo Credit: Katarina Cvetko

WILDSTYLEZ

Not only did I get to meet one of my idols but I got to stand right by him as he dropped one of my favourite tracks of all time: ‘Year Of Summer’. The man who inspired my round the world festival trip threw down a tonne of new music among some Wildstylez classics including Lose My Mind and Lies or Truth. It was fair to say that I absolutely lost my mind during this set and it was by far one of my favourite performances I’ve seen from him.

Photo Credit: Katarina Cvetko

My first music festival in Melbourne was by far one of the most exciting events I’ve been to all year and has definitely changed the way I look at Australian festivals. Hard Kandy and Harder Styles United have years of Hardstyle events under their belt and their 4th edition of Shadows In Wonderland was another one for the history books. I can’t recommend this event enough and I’ll definitely be back next year!

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