6/4/18To be candid, it was my first EDM show. That's electronic dance music, for the similarly uninducted. That said, it was truly an experience to remember.DJ Hardwell returned to Israel for another concert, his fourth or fifth, though sometimes it's hard for him to remember among his more than 300 shows a year, as he told The Jerusalem Post just before going on stage last Friday. This time he was hosted by the Bluestone Production group and joined by fellow Dutchman, DJ and producer Kill the Buzz, as well as Israeli duos, Riot and Warrior.To set the stage, the Live Park in Rishon Lezion is a massive outdoor arena with two sections: a paved and fence-enclosed "Golden Ring" with a space for dance surrounded by stands for purchasing drinks or food and deep stairs for sitting and viewing, with the enormous grass section surrounding it. The Golden Ring was so desirable that we were entertained prior to the show and between sets by watching young men jump the fence and make a run for it, only to be rounded up by security. If you want to join the up-close dancing, I strongly recommend simply buying a ticket for the exclusive area.Riot opened the show with an incredible set. As a relatively inexperienced EDMer, I was impressed with their unique blend of new and old, remixing some modern hits and some classics, from Ride by 21 Pilots to the Red Hot Chili Peppers to old school metal. The combination drew me into the unfamiliar genre via familiar and beloved songs. Words cannot capture the pure ecstasy of the crowd as DJ Hardwell came to the stage. The air was thick with tense energy that simply exploded from the first moment he took the stage and the music erupted from the house-sized speakers. Hardwell's set tended toward more current pop and hip hop and forced everyone to their feet.Before DJ Hardwell took the stage, he had a few minutes to spare to sit down with the Post.Hardwell expounded on the differences between Israeli and European crowds: “You can tell… there are not necessarily a lot of DJs are coming to Israel, so the moment an EDM DJ is coming to Israel, you can tell that people are way more excited and are looking forward… to the show.”And he is right. Israel is noticeably lacking in big name shows and when stars do come, tickets tend to be pretty pricey. This is partly because Israel is a relatively small country and Tel Aviv is a bit isolated from most of the large European cities.Another, more controversial reason is the BDS movement. When any major artist announces a trip to Israel, they are immediately attacked by activists accusing them of supporting an apartheid state, an “occupier.” Just recently, Lorde cancelled her Tel Aviv show. South African DJ Black Coffee was recently in Israel and was bombarded with tweets accusing him of a lack of “political & moral consciousness.”When asked about the subject and whether he had suffered from similar attacks, Hardwell said “Well, in the past, yeah. But I make my music to bring joy and happiness to the world and I think it’s great to see that my music is uniting so many people from all over the world. And my music has nothing to do with any political or religion things, so yea, I don’t really care. I’m here to have a great party with people and with the fans and that’s the only thing I care about.”
He certainly succeeded. A great party it was and an amazing time was had by all in attendance. On that night, his music united thousands of people, Israelis and Palestinians, locals and tourists, young and old, all there just to celebrate excellent music and dance together. DJ Hardwell is continuing back to Europe and will be on the main stage at the Tomorrowland Festival this July in Belgium.