From humble beginnings as a radio station, the BigCityBeats brand has grown to become something of a musical empire in Germany. In 10 years, the company has added many strings to its bow, including a television show, magazine, club nights and even a successful record label. And then, of course, there is World Club Dome, also known as the biggest club in the world. Sorry, that should probably be: THE BIGGEST CLUB IN THE WORLD. Much better.
Taking over the 51,500 capacity Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt, WCD certainly has a touch of the imperial about it. Boasting the entire floor and three of the lower seating tiers of the stadium, the festival's main stage plays host to an army of festival-goers, worked into a frenzy by some of the world's most popular dance acts.
With such an impressive spectacle on the cards, DJ Mag can't resist getting in on the action. And seeing as we're also hosting one of the stages in the Club Music Circle — a series of booths under the stands — we feel more than inclined to drop in and make sure our boys get on ok. Thus, DJ Mag find ourselves aboard the Clubjet, a Boeing 757, that plays host to a live DJ at 32,000 feet.
Performing this aerial concert is none other than EDX, one of the stars of our own stage. The Switzerland-based DJ blasts out a quick four-track set of his trademark, club-friendly house, before a pitstop in Hamburg to pick up a few German competition winners. EDX joins us for a natter in the break, which reveals that he's not only a charming chap, but a healthy one too.
Stop drinking any fruit juice that isn't freshly squeezed, he warns us. Once we're back in the air, it's on with the show. A real audience pleaser, EDX has requested the decks be moved so as to face the passengers gathering in the aisle, camera phones at the ready. This time round he gets a good while longer, and pulls on a brilliantly energetic, slightly surreal, performance.
Following a battle for sleep against the surprisingly humid climate, we emerge into the blazing heat of Saturday, and make our way along dappled, woodland paths to the festival ground. Enticed by the roars emanating from the arena, we make our way inside for a peek.
Although secretly a tad disappointed not to find a Mad Max-style gladiator tournament, we see the obvious potential of the venue, and find it hard to take our eyes off the gargantuan stack of speakers and screens otherwise known as the main stage. Currently Dutchman R3HAB is putting on his standard display of EDM pomp, so we beat a sharp retreat and head for Henri Pfr.
The Belgian's blend of summertime house anthems suits the weather perfectly, whilst tent hosts Neonsplash add to the holiday vibe, spraying the crowd with luminous paint from what looks like a burger van ketchup bottle. A group of grumpy-looking girls squeeze yellow liquid from their hair; DJ Mag sticks to a safe distance.
We catch up with EDX once again over at our own stage. He's in high spirits, bringing party house favourites into the fold; Axwell's 'I Found U', Clean Bandit's 'Rather Be', the obligatory remix of 'Show Me Love' — all present and correct.
The DJ's enthusiasm is infectious, and it's pleasing to see an artist who's more than happy to take every selfie that's asked of him, and dish out drinks to his adoring fans — well, you know how festival prices can be after all. Our highlight of the day in fact comes in a much quieter form, Germany's own Ray Okpara, who offers a collection of intriguing rhythms and melodic easy-listeners to fewer than 10 people; a shame really, but all the more special for it.
Finishing up the day are masters of anthemic electronica Faithless, who reel through countless hits such as 'Mass Destruction' and 'Insomnia', fronted by Maxi Jazz in a jacket with L.E.D. lapels (because why not?). When the time arrives for 'We Come 1', Maxi encourages the crowd to sing along with him, which we're sure they would have, had the majority not already made for the exit. Honestly, kids these days...
Welcomed into Sunday by an intense display of rolling house and murky techno basslines from Marc Tiez and Sidney Spaeth, DJ Mag is hopeful for the day ahead. Although resigning ourselves to the Space Ibiza arena for the foreseeable future, the promise of Âme and Art Department makes up for a general lack of underground music.
Apart from a captivating set of jittering abstraction from Âme however, we're left feeling much the same as the previous day. The whole stage feels out of place amongst the EDM, and if it weren't for names such as Anja Schneider, Jamie Jones and Deep Dish filling the line-up, you could be forgiven for thinking it was a bit of an afterthought.
As the grounds outside the stadium gradually become a ghost town, we leave the small collective of stalwarts shuffling to Art Department and head back into the Commerzbank. Seeing as how DJ Mag readers have now voted him the best DJ in the world, two years running, we think it's only right we do the public justice and take on the face-melting electro house of Hardwell.
Striding out onto the terrace, we're stunned by the sheer size of the crowd that lays before us – not to mention the deafening clamour that greets Breda's favourite son, each time he unleashes another brutally obtuse drop.
'Don't Stop the Madness' — his own collaboration with W&W and Fatman Scoop — certainly achieves the wish of its title, whilst Armin van Buuren's 'Ping Pong' has a sea of synchronised limbs rippling across the whole arena. It is at this point that the enormity of World Club Dome sinks in. This truly is the biggest club in the world, and for that BigCityBeats, we salute you.
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