Every year about 30,000 lovers move towards the epicenter of the well-known ‘rave-quake’ in Wachtebeke. The Qontinent is the biggest harder styles festival in Belgium and will…
An interview with the team behind Power Hour: “We still have lots of tricks up our sleeve”
It has become a familiar concept and big phenomenon during Defqon.1: the one and only Power Hour. Since Saturday, you’re able to watch and relive the live registration of Power Hour 2018. Also at the New Year’s Eve event WOW WOW, it will be given its 10 minutes of fame on NYE. More than enough reason to have a chat with Rogier Werver, one of the masterminds behind Power Hour by Q-dance.
Last Friday, Q-dance members had the opportunity to see the live registration for the very first time during the special premiere night. It’s safe to say that Power Hour has become a big happening over the past 5 years. “Q-dance has been doing a lot with the concept of shows: we basically claim the transitions from artist to artist and close down our events with the ‘end show’ phenomenon”, Rogier explains. The Q-dance team was looking for a new phenomenon during the day at a festival. “So what if we translate the end show to a daytime show and extend the length of it? We really take things over for an entire hour. It’s some kind of ‘rush’ or music marathon, where you go in heads first and you really need to catch your breath afterwards. We take you on a journey through a jungle of different styles and artists, and top it off with our show principles. This all led to the birth of Power Hour.”
“You need to have what it takes to handle three days of Defqon.1”
Rogier needs a second to think of an answer when we ask him about the one specific thing that makes Power Hour so special. “The ultimate fusion between a musically express train and a show experience with the power and madness of Defqon.1. It’s so huge with loads of elements: you can’t simply just pick one. But if I really have to, then it would be the music. It goes all over the place! From Dutch singalongs to Slipknot, back to Drum ‘n Bass and then it drags you into a early hardstyle track to end up in a frenchcore train. The madness, pace, toughness and the power: this is what makes Power Hour so unique.”
The latest edition of Power Hour contained a whopping amount of 93 (!) different tracks in 60 minutes. “What we do with Power Hour is almost impossible for an artist to play 93 tracks within an hour live. It has also to do with the sound and style the DJ represents anyway, and what kind of records he wants to play. But we wanted to create one hour where all available styles Defqon.1 represents come together. This makes us more free when we pick our tracks and gives us the opportunity to really decide which song goes perfect during a specific moment.” Rogier and his crew realize that Power Hour asks for a lot of energy from the 60,000 spectators. “I can tell you that you have to be cut out for this anyway to survive three days of Defqon.1”, Rogier says with a compliment to all the Weekend Warriors.
“We end up with a shortlist, containing about 500 to 600 tracks for the mix”
“We have lots of different tracks with various functions in the mix”, Rogier explains when he’s taking about the choice of music. “We describe them with ‘stream trains’, ‘the kick starters’, but also as ‘pull openers’. Like when a track briefly lifts you up, or which makes you emotional for a second. It includes tracks which are definitely not hits, so it’s absolutely not a hit mix. But a typical Power Hour-track to me is a ‘stream train’. It has got to have some kind of edge, power and speed. I think that’s the best way to describe it”, says an excited Rogier.
Power Hour is more than just music. It’s the entire show and experience around it, which makes the whole thing work. Every hardstyle fan recognizes the images of a crowd filled with a wasteland of blow-up attributes. Around 10,000 to 20,000 inflatables are bouncing in the air above the dance floor during every edition. “And that’s only a small piece of interaction with the audience”, Rogier says laughing. “We have around 200 moments where something specifically is about to happen during a show. Like the appearance of an act, fireworks, confetti or the inflatables indeed. Not only the crowd is up for a challenge, but that’s also the case for the crew. Giving all we’ve got for one entire hour: together with 150 employees, we’ve got a lot of work to do during this hour to make things go smoothly.”
Rogier tells us they prepare every Power Hour edition for about an entire year. “We obviously start small, with three people in the creative sessions I think. Like assembling the possible tracks for the mix, for example. We eventually end up with a ‘shortlist’ including 500 to 600 tracks, and then we need to reduce that by a lot. Also artists and producers are involved to create edits and mash-ups of different kinds of tracks. Villain and Deepack play a huge role in the process later on as well. It’s not like we hand them a microphone and push them on stage under the slogan ‘break a leg’. They are involved in an early stage of the preparations: although they don’t create the mix itself, they do play a huge role in the process. These guys are handling their professions outstandingly and are definitely part of the Power Hour team.”
“You want so many things, but straighten out permits take a lot of time”
Power Hour is a big phenomenon and every year it seems more and more people are participating. However, it has never been exploited to other events like Defqon.1 Australia. “This has to do with the complexity of the show. It’s a gigantic operation to organize Power Hour – not only in preparations but also in execution – at the same level in another country. It’s a huge challenge, but we do have some big plans for the future.”
When Rogier looks back on 5 years of Power Hour, several moments come to mind. “The first year was very special, with the airplane involved. Also the first time that the entire field turned around for the group photo. The ‘Left, Right’ which got introduced and became bigger every year, but the parachutists who land on both sides off the stages as well: one of them swoop down at an insanely high pace. Too many things happened to actually name one specific moment”, Rogier admits. “We still have a lot of inspiration, but sometimes we’re not quite there yet with the permits. So there’s still a lot to come if it’s up to us!”
“We can work with lots of elements at WOW WOW which we don’t have in the open air”
Power Hour is about to to take its first step outside of Defqon.1 during WOW WOW on New Year’s Eve. Rogier is excitingly telling us about the many possibilities of the Ziggo Dome. “We want to overwhelm the crowd with the real Power Hour experience within 10 minutes, so we have to give a lot in a short amount of time. But now – since it’s in a venue where it’s dark inside – we can do a lot more with lights, video and lasersa team. Effects you can barely see in day light and which we therefor can’t use. We are now working on elements that are not available in the open air.”
Rogier doesn’t want to spoil the surprise with a small sneak peek, which seems fair enough. “Come and enjoy our world of show and experience! Ten minutes of typical Power Hour hysteria for your eyes and ears are guaranteed.” The name says it all: Power Hour, normally it’s a full 60 minutes but now it has been brought down to 10. “So that means that we need to push like crazy”, Rogier says with a big smile on his face. “It’s quite challenging, but we are absolutely ready to end the year with a big bang, together with the visitors during this special show.” The inspiration of the Power Hour masterminds has not reached the bottom at all. What they will be having for us for next year, will remain a surprise for now.
Experience ’10 minutes of Power Hour’ during WOW in the Ziggo Dome on the 31st of December. For tickets and more info, you can visit the official Q-dance website.
Footage taken from Facebook page Defqon.1