Pittsburgh, the third stop on Hardwell’s North American Bus Tour, arrived February 27th, a Saturday night at the legendary 31st Street Studios. Tickets were selling fast and fans took to social media to share all the love for the upcoming show. The fans were eager to have such an incredible producer in Pittsburgh. After Kaskade performed this past Fall at the same venue, people wanted more! Thus Hardwell in Pittsburgh was created.
The Pittsburgh fans began lining up outside the gates of the venue at 5:30, for a show that was scheduled to have the doors open by 7:00. The weather held at a steady 50 degrees, so despite the cold, some fans didn’t bother wearing jackets or sweaters. Once you’re moving and grooving in a crowd full of people, you quickly realize that you don’t need to have a jacket… and who wants to hold one?! As more bodies began to line up, creative Hardwell themed outfits were sprouting. Fans wore custom shirts, shoes, kandi (from cuffs to face masks), and one crazed fan had “HARDWELL” shaved on his head. Pittsburgh’s underground EDM scene showed their wings tonight, and I was proud to be among them.
7:00 came faster than expected. The line was onto the street going back further than I could see. Once the signal was given for everyone to enter, it was like a marathon. Just like runners in their gear sprinting the final 100ft dash to the finish. Except for the fans, it was a sprint to be right in front of the stage. Inside 31st Street Studios, a coat check was arranged so everyone could dance through the night without having to carry an added restriction. AMPD Group did an excellent job of organizing their three bars, the staff was friendly and well prepared. One detail fans were also very happy about, was the amount of restrooms. Kaskade’s show was the first time using this venue and it was clearly visible that lessons were learned.
Kill The Buzz was the first scheduled performance, which started around 7:30 right after the local DJ was finished mixing while people were filing inside the venue. Kill The Buzz opened the crowd up for the tour. The lights began to flash and the LED screens began to come life. People were throwing their arms up and move to his melodic tracks, and his beat banging tracks like “Shake It Off”. He spun a few remixes and during his set I recognized a “Drive” by Sick Individuals. He even remixed Adele’s “Hello”, which had the entire crowd singing the lyrics.
Thomas Newson jumped on set at 9:00, right after Kill The Buzz wrapped up. The young up and comer laid out hard hitting tracks igniting gasoline. More bodies began to approach the front of the stage as his music was grabbing the attention of the venue. Arms were in the air, fists were pumping, and heads were banging. The energy of the room was big and got even bigger when he played his remix of Galantis’ “Louder, Harder, better”. Thomas Newson surely made plenty of new fans here in the Midwest with his performance.
10:30 arrived with a blackout. The lights faded on, the bass thundered, and the screens shot electric fire across them. It was time for Hardwell to take his step onto the stage into the view of his adoring fans. As visuals were going, he walked on stage and dropped the music to address the crowd. Everyone in the venue screamed and yelled with excitement. The set started with “Countdown” then dropped straight into a fast pace track, its purpose to get everyone jumping to the bass. It was a successful intro that played on suspense – Hardwell executed this flawlessly.
Hardwell was consistently amazing throughout the night. Paired with the amazing visuals and plentiful amount of Co2 cannons, his performance was one to behold. For the North American Bus Tour, it’s a chance for new releases to tease fans and have them desperately await the official releases. Such as his beautiful touch on Tove Lo’s “Habits”. And just officially announced, “Run Wild” featuring Jake Reese, also hit the stage of 31st Street Studios.
I remember hearing the crowd’s excitement each time something new was heard. That’s how you know this show held many of his real fans, as he said in an interview, “my fans – passionate”. Amid the booming-bass dance sessions that were constantly thrown at the crowd, some melodic sing-along breaks made their way into his set. The crowd sang in tune to his music. I started to lose my voice after a while from singing to the top of my lungs. Only moments like this you’d ever hear me sing, that’s probably the case for lots of other fans there as well – but when you’re lost in music you don’t seem to care who hears you – at least I didn’t.
Hardwell isn’t always the typical electro house. He sometimes has to throw out a few extra surprises to change it up yet again. Halfway in his set, the beat of old school Dr. Dre took me by surprise. From 1999, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s “Still D.R.E.”, was being mixed by Hardwell! Everyone around me was just bobbing their heads along. As the pace picked up, I braced myself. The beat dropped into a hard hitting electro bass line – it took the venue by storm.
Also mixed was Jauz and Ephwurd’s “Rock The Party”, A-Trak’s “Heads Will Roll”, Justin Beiber’s “Sorry”, and Travis Scott’s “Antidote”. Now let me just say I am not a Justin Beiber fan, but I was jumping to this remix and wouldn’t mind it on my personal playlist – it was that good!
Don’t even get me started on the “Antidote” remix… The crowd was insane when Hardwell was playing a trap mix. Yes, I did say trap. It was closer to the end of his set, and caught everyone off guard. The response was good though and the vibes were felt by all. It would still be considered electro house, but there was trap in 80% of that remix. Hardwell was even seen throwing up trap arms – I lost it! This trap mix had my completely in the zone.
I am sure we will be seeing more official releases over the next few months (or weeks) of these remixes. Hardwell showed why he is considered to be a well-rounded – and why he is one of the greats. The energy of the show was powerful, judging by the sound of the crowd. I don’t think anyone can thank Hardwell enough for the amazing show he put on here at 31st Street Studios in Pittsburgh. It was truly legendary and was saddening to see it come to a close. The following day he was set to perform at The Bluestone in Columbus, another huge night. The North American Bus Tour continued on with just 7 stops left: Philadelphia, Mashantucket, Boston, New York, Syracuse, Montreal, and Ottawa.Thank you Hardwell for the good vibes. We hope to see you again.
Kill The Buzz
Cover photo by Pierce Nazinitsky