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20 years of Black Sun Empire in full eclipse
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20 years of Black Sun Empire in full eclipse

Hard to write objectively about such a special night. With a line-up of apocalyptic proportions; celebrating 20 years of Black Sun Empire, at one of the finest venues in Holland… sold out – essentially all the ingredients to properly get your groove on. (Photo’s by: Meesterwerk / Kaka Lee)


TivoliVredeburg in Utrecht, partially because of the architected grandeur, is quite something. In terms of width, it isn’t exactly big, but with a height of 45 meters, it isn’t small either. A web of numerous escalators zigzagged through the building which, at times, seemed to resemble an airport or a huge mall. Despite the event being sold out, this extra ‘room’ brought a rather refreshing amount of breathing space in between the sets.

When seeing the line at the entrance, the hype for this event only increased. It stretched for about 150 meters more or less. Yikes. The warmth from the collective anticipation of the partygoers luckily kept the spirits high. Everyone seemed rather keen on what would unfold once inside, and the portable speakers some of them brought, helped as well. The occasional: ‘is there a big event today?’ from the passing crowd, further underlined this Blackout XL was worth the wait.

After a steady warm-up set by Silvahfonk, being eased in by turntablists like Calyx & Teebee in the Ronda (the biggest of the two rooms this night) set the tone. Although most of the visitors were still acclimatizing at these early hours, the selection by both acts provided for a lovely introduction. The second-to-none ability of the aforementioned duo to kick the energy into next gear, through funkily switching between different basslines, still remained contagious. This only furthered because of the stellar sound system in place – being on the receiving end of chest rattling lows; the way it’s really meant!

Room for improvements

Does it all call for praise? Despite the epic venue, it does seem the price of beer jumped up with every storey that was added on top of Tivoli. €3.90 for a pint of Jupiler, even in these days, just doesn’t seem justifiable. The service at the bars usually was mostly quick, although two extra helping hands at the more crowded ones would’ve been more ideal. Compared to the sound system in Ronda, the one in Pandora lacked punch. Bit of a shame really; would’ve stayed there longer otherwise. The last set of the night there by Eye-D and Hidden really sounded proper, but the meagre lows really drowned out their energic style…

Black Sun Empire

When Thijs (from Noisia) announced BSE and praised their 20 years of involvement in the scene, his words felt genuine and you could clearly notice the comradery between the two Dutch powerhouses – a memorable moment. Sub Focus laid down the groundwork – hyping everyone with his diverse mixing style, Noisia further raised the room temperature with even more heat, and then the hosts (together with Neonlight) proceeded to kick the show into yet another gear.

Plenty of synchronized limb throwing occurred, as well as moshpits (hooray for free adrenaline). The atmosphere, especially due to the huge balcony overlooking the dancefloor in Ronda, felt awesome. Seeing everyone underneath you lose their shit on the dancefloor, remains a smirk-inducing phenomenon. A noteworthy mention about MC’s Dart and Multiplex, their mic skills throughout the night really complimented the experience.

Blackout XL, Utrecht 01-02-2019Blackout XL, Utrecht 01-02-2019


In summary: Blackout XL proved to be a memorable night consisting of more than heavy drum and bass in an outlandishly looking, but rather awesome venue. It took a bit before the roof really started to come off. Yet, the journey to get there felt more than justified!


Michael Janiec

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