Hardwell’s turn on the Main Stage was met with some of the most manic, wildly ecstatic energy we’ve ever seen at a festival. Check that crowd-wide jump at around 4:30. Banners, flags and even balloons spelling out Hardwell’s name popped up throughout the dense audience, which temporarily forgot its manners and practically slam-danced with abandon. Around the three-minute mark, you can even see Hardwell turn to a photographer (or tour manager) with him in the booth and throw up a thrilled thumbs-up.
Carnage was rocking the sweat-packed Dim Mak stage for a front row of Americans repping their big man when a drop of Ellie Goulding’s “Lights“ vocal became a singalong with meaning. Check around 4:30, when a young man in a wheelchair gets hoisted by his buddies to enjoy the moment from up high. You can practically taste his joy. The peace is short-lived, however, when the drop of Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike’s “Wakanda“ hits a moment later and the tent goes into full jump-up.
Chuckie’s late afternoon set finished on an emotional note, when the Dutch DJ dropped a medley of Bingo Players hits — “Cry (Just A Little),“ “L’Amour“, “Devotion,“ “Rattle“ — in honor of group member Paul Baümer, who recently announced a cancer diagnosis. “I have, like, two minutes left,“ Chuckie tells the crowd around minute five, “but can we just do a sit-down for the Bingo Players? Show them some love and respect.“
The sit-until-the-drop-hits command is a common Main Stage move, but this time it felt like more than a mere party trick. “Paul, this one goes out to you,“ Chuckie shouted, throwing his hands in the air as fans jumped from the ground in unison. It was a perfect tribute to Baümer and the Bingo Players, whose music has been long been fodder for major Main Stage moments.
Recap videos don’t often capture that festival moment when one DJ cedes the decks to another. The crowd response in that instant is one of the most telling indicators of a jock’s popularity. Nicky Romero had the Garden of Madness crowd rapt from his very first hello, dropping his Krewella collaboration “Legacy.“ The fans went absolutely wild, packing the tent to the point where all access paths to it were temporarily closed. Next time, the Main Stage.
Trance god Armin van Buuren is a pro at creating big moments on even bigger festival stages. But at Tomorrowland, it wasn’t his music that got the crowd worked up. “I just want to make a very special announcement,“ he told fans before beginning his set. “I just came straight from the hospital. My wife just gave birth to a son. So I want to dedicate my whole set to my new son.“ As the classical strings of his track “Intense“ came through the speakers, van Buuren assumed his usual pose — arms outstretched, head tilted skyward — but the DJ’s eyes also filled with tears in a moment that had the whole crowd rejoicing with him.
Belgian brothers Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike are the “resident DJs“ of Tomorrowland, a job that has taken them from hometown heroes to international EDM stars. A spate of huge releases (“Wakanda,“ “Turn It Up,“ “Mammoth“ and TomorrowWorld festival anthem “Chattahoochee“) hasn’t hurt either. The enormity of their recent rise seemed to hit them when they closed the Main Stage Friday night.
Tiesto is, quite literally, a tough act to follow, but the energy level only rose when Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike took the stage; with Vegas primarily on DJ duty and Like Mike hyping up the crowd with chants, champagne spraying and shirt-waving, the set was an all-out party for the artists and crowd alike. During a happily off-key audience-wide singalong to One Republic’s “If I Lose Myself“ (shortly after the four-minute mark), the brothers share a look of complete disbelief at what’s taking place before them.