Clad in a blue and yellow striped T-shirt and jeans, 25-year-old DJ Hardwell, who is currently ranked the No. 6 DJ in the world by DJ Mag, hung out backstage before his headlining show at the Ocean Club in Quincy on Sunday as if he were lounging in his living room, treating the fans gathered around him like his lifelong friends.
At 11 p.m. Hardwell stepped on stage and took over for fellow Breda, Netherlands DJ DANNIC, morphing into a different person entirely. The Dutchman shed his easygoing persona to become, arguably, the life of the party.
Photo courtesy of James Coletta,www.JamesColetta.com
Hardwell catered to the sea of neon-clad fist-pumpers at his final stop on the "Go Hardwell or Go Home" tour for almost two hours. After kicking things off with his hit "Spaceman," he played everything in his personal arsenal and beyond, including summer bangers like "Holy Grail" (Jay Z and Justin Timberlake) and "Bugatti" (Ace Hood), until the club closed at 1 a.m.
Check out some of his most popular tracks in the Spotify playlist above.
Before taking the stage, the man of the hour (real name: Robbert van der Corput) sat down and chatted about his ascension to fame.
"I was like 4 years old when I started playing piano, and I was like 10 years old when I saw a documentary on the Dutch MTV about Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren, and all of the Dutch DJs, and it really inspired me," Hardwell said. "It was kind of an eye-opener. That was the moment I discovered dance music."
Hardwell downloaded a computer program to create beats and began sending them out to radio stations. He was picked up by a record label at 14.
"When I was 17, I headlined almost every festival and club in Holland," he said. "I think I was 18, 19 when I started to get [popular] abroad. I was 19 when I played [the Belgian electronic music festival] Tomorrowland for the first time. It’s been a while already.
"It all began in Europe: Portugal, Italy, Spain. And then, four years ago, it started worldwide, especially when the EDM scene blew up [in America]," Hardwell said. "I was one of the guys that got booked here and started touring. Then, I met Tiesto and we did a lot of tours together."
The two became fast friends after Tiesto, who also hails from Breda in the Netherlands, invited Hardwell to his residency playing clubs in Ibiza, Spain.
"He emailed me that he really liked my tracks, and I sent him some more, and he really loved my stuff and two weeks after I sent him that email, he emailed me back like, ‘Please come to Ibiza and join me for my residency,’ so I flew to Ibiza," Hardwell said. "The first time I met him, we played like three hours together. We had an instant click."
A few years later, the two are like brothers. Check out an Instagram shot of them both, with Hardwell on the right, below.
"He’s always been my role model," Hardwell said. "It’s weird, you know. He’s one of the guys that got me into what I’m doing right now and now he’s like a big brother to me. We talk every day and he’s helping me out with everything."
What's next for Hardwell, who at 25 is already 11 years into his career?
Thanks America for this great tour again! Time to fly back home now and sleep for a week or so ;) #sleepwell— Hardwell (@HARDWELL) August 19, 2013
"I'm going to sleep for the first two days, three days, and just do nothing," Hardwell said.
He'll be home for just about a week, during which time he hopes to lay down a new single before hitting the road again for a pair of European festivals, and then heading back to the US for Electric Zoo in New York City Aug. 30-Sept. 1.
Other things on the horizon: In July, Hardwell announced that he'll release a documentary that chronicles the last two years of his life -- "I Am Hardwell" -- sometime in the near future.
If his Sunday set, plans for the future, and upcoming show schedule are any indication of what's to come, Hardwell isn't going to stop going hard any time soon.
About Sound Effects
ContributorsSarah Rodman is a staff music critic for the Boston Globe.
James Reed is a staff music critic for the Boston Globe.
Jonathan Perry is the Globe's Scene & Heard columnist, covering local music.
Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.
Julian Benbow is a staff writer at the Boston Globe, covering sports and music.
Katie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.
Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.
Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer at Boston.com.