Rampage 2022: Founder Murdock on How The Festival Made An Epic Return

Rampage 2022: Founder Murdock on How The Festival Made An Epic Return

Written by: Jake Hirst

It’s a spring-like March evening in Antwerp and the Belgian city’s famous Sportpaleis arena is buzzing with activity as ravers descend on it from all over the world. With artists including Pendulum, Modestep, Koven, Virtual Riot, Eptic, Matrix & Futurebound, Delta Heavy, Dirtyphonics and Noisia billed to play at the venue this weekend, it means only one thing: the biggest drum & bass and dubstep festival in the universe, Rampage, has returned.

Backstage, the walls are shuddering with bass, a sea of workers navigate the corridors in black attire, and there’s a feeling of nervous anticipation – and quite rightly so. We’re talking about the Rampage event that was due to take place in March 2020, but is only now going ahead two years later.

It’s the first night of the festival and AC13 has just taken to stage opening with Bare Up’s epic 'Can’t Stop' drum and bass single. Considering there’s 15,000 ravers selling-out the venue tonight, you’d expect the scenes backstage to be frantic. But it’s the complete opposite. Event founder Murdock is testament to this. As we take refuge in the staff canteen away from the bass earthquakes coming from the main stage, Hans sits down with a smile on his face and a surprisingly calm demeanour.

“I’m feeling relieved” he tells me. “If you had asked me how I was feeling four hours ago when the doors weren’t open, then I would’ve been feeling doubtful.” If you’re wondering why the mind behind one of D&B and dubstep’s most popular events is feeling doubtful on the day of the show, then you only have to look at the journey Rampage has endured over the last two years following multiple cancellations and setbacks at the hands of the Covid-19 pandemic. “I realised a week or two ago that it’s been three years since we first planned this party” Murdock points out. “We’ve been so close so often that it has got to the point where the event had to happen for us to believe it was real.”



For years, Rampage has been a staple calendar date representing the first festival of the year for many bass music heads, but the Covid pandemic stopped the event in its tracks. Originally scheduled to take place in March 2020, this edition of Rampage was one of the first events to fall victim to restrictions in Belgium at a time when panic over the unknowns of the virus were starting to spread across Europe. As Hans describes it:

“In the space of a week it went from people thinking Covid was the flu to the world shutting down. On the Monday, we were told we couldn’t have more than 1000 people in the same place, on the Tuesday, we couldn’t have more than 100, and on Wednesday, we were told everything was closing. So in the space of five days it was all over.”

It was a stressful time for Hans and the team as they were only told by the Belgian government they had to cancel Rampage two days before the event was due to take place. If you’re familiar with Rampage, then you’ll know they will have been deep in the stage build by then. But thankfully, “the people building the production started to build in a way where they could easily tear it down” Hans highlights. “We were a day or two ahead of the general public in terms of information, so mentally, we knew it wasn’t going to end well before everyone else did.”

You’d think Hans would have been filled with crushing sadness when he was told Rampage couldn’t go ahead, but he points out he was instead feeling a sense of relief because “we were all there waiting for the hammer to come down on us.” 

That cancellation was just the beginning of Rampage’s woes though. What followed was a string of pushbacks and false starts, combined with a proposed Rampage date in December 2021 that was again cancelled a matter of days before the event was due to take place because of the Omicron Covid variant spreading across Europe.

“Staying motivated has been the biggest challenge” he reveals. “In Belgium, we’ve only been officially open for a few weeks now, unlike other countries. We had a few weeks at the end of 2021 when things were open, but everything shut down again just before the planned Rampage December 2021 date.”



Rampage has built a reputation as an indoor event with one of the biggest production set-ups in the drum and bass game. They pride themselves on creating something new and exciting each and every year. Despite the cancellations inevitably costing the team “a shitload of money”, you’d be forgiven for thinking the delay to this weekend’s event might actually come with a hidden positive by allowing the crew to perfect the show, but that’s not the case. The show Rampage puts on hinges on the date the arena is booked and what’s available at the time, meaning each time the event endured a setback, the team had to completely re-think the event experience. According to Hans:

“Every date we cancelled, new plans had to be built, new lighting schemes were set-up, new people were employed. So each time we had a buildup leading to nothing it was super demotivating for everyone involved. Some of the people we worked with dropped out to work in other industries and are not part of the scene anymore.”

But it’s not all doom and gloom. When discussing what Hans is excited for this weekend, he’s keen to reveal that in amongst the disappointment of having to re-think the set-up the team stumbled upon a new production element that will redefine the Rampage experience. Was he going to tell me what it was? Definitely not.

“We’ve got something very special planned.” Hans says with a cheeky grin. “It only popped up two weeks ago because of a production element being used by a previous event. They were using an element in their production that we weren’t planning to, but because of the way they’d installed it, we couldn’t take it down and ended up thinking of a way to use it. Now, it’s probably the most insane part of the production this weekend. You’ll see a sneak peek of it tonight, but the full experience will happen tomorrow.”

The production element Hans teased was a mobile DJ booth. On the Friday, we first witnessed it when Koven rose up into the sky, but on the second night, the element came alive during Murdock’s set. With his, Doctrine’s and Modestep’s 'Start A Rampage VIP' building up in the background, Murdock’s DJ booth began floating above the crowd to the centre of the arena, with MC Mota shouting “welcome to the stage” followed by the chorus drop and sparks shooting from the DJ booth. It was a first for Rampage, and an experience the crowd will never forget with Pendulum and Used also making full use of the feature.



Despite the misery the Rampage team endured having to repeatedly re-imagine the Rampage experience, “the core members of the team are still just as excited and creative as ever” Hans reveals. “People keep throwing out these ideas and it turns into crazy experiences.”

It’s a dedication to finding innovative ways to wow the crowd that encourages artists to flock to Rampage each year with world exclusives. The original 2020 date had multiple special sets planned. “Just look at the event we had planned for 2020” Hans says. “Dirtyphonics Live 2.0 premiere, Modestep live show premiere, Pendulum Trinity, Camo & Krooked b2b Mefjus premiere, Koven’s album premiere. We had a lot of exclusives planned man…” While most of these still went ahead, not all of them were exclusives anymore – apart from Modestep and Dirtyphonics, who saved their live shows for a whole two years just so they could debut them at Rampage. 

It speaks volumes of the value people place on the Rampage experience. Artists put on their best shows. Fans go harder than usual in the dance. This year’s event was no different. Whether it was SaSaSaS’ emotional set paying homage to Skibadee, FuntCase making a surprise appearance for the DPMO Showcase, Noisia performing what is likely to be their final big-scale indoor show in Belgium, or the first time Rampage ran a room two at the Sportpaleis, the weekend was filled with magic memories to cherish.



With so much about to unfold, and many secrets ready to be revealed, you’d assume Hans would have been overjoyed when we spoke at the start of the weekend, but he was quick to recognise the toll the setbacks have taken on the community.

“Despite feeling excited for the event, I’m looking forward to finally getting this weekend behind us because everyone who has a ticket and thought it was never going to happen is finally getting their money’s worth this weekend. We’re so grateful the Rampage soldiers have stuck with us throughout the two years.”

Maybe it’s down to the pressure Hans faces as part of a three-person core team responsible for dreaming up the vision for an event welcoming 30,000 ravers across one weekend, or maybe it’s just the fact that creating the next best experience for the Rampage community is top of Hans’ ambitions. One of which is Rampage Open Air in July – an outdoor edition of the event that had its second outing cancelled last year.

“The first time we did Rampage Open Air was so emotional” Hans says with a nostalgic gleam in his eyes. “This Rampage event we are at now has always been emotional because it’s such an eruption of energy with all these people in one room, but having that in the daytime at Rampage Open Air is something else. The event is our big ambition right now.”



With over 250 artists performing, 15-20k people arriving each day, campsite pre-parties and a silent disco after-party featuring massive names from the line-up, it’s fair to say this is going to be the biggest thing Rampage has done yet. It’s a revelation sparking an interesting reflection from Murdock on the journey he’s been on with Rampage.

“My dad once said to me ‘if I’d known you’d go into music professionally I would have tried to stop you by any means possible’ – because it’s such a volatile world with an uncertain future. But it’s a good thing I wasn’t aware of this, and that’s exactly what he said to me later down the line. It’s good he couldn’t do anything about it because look at where I am now. My parents are very proud of what I’ve achieved.”

Hans continues: “I would have never in a million years imagined we would be where we are right now. The first edition of Rampage was about 1000 people 13 years ago, and then we did Lotto Arena next door, which was 5000 people, and then we went to Sportpaleis as a 15,000 one-day event. Now we are a sold-out two-day event. It’s like: 'fuck man, where is this going to end up?' It’s exciting, and borderline scary.”

As he reflects on his journey with a beaming smile, it’s clear to see just how much it means to Hans to get Rampage back up and running after a period of uncertainty for the brand’s future. “It’s the best feeling man. I’ve already choked up a few times today at the realisation Rampage is actually happening.” Despite all the stress the past two years have caused, Hans and his team won’t be slowing down anytime soon. As he puts it, “Rampage is an animal that controls us. It pushes us to be better because we can’t not do better each year.”

But it’s going to be hard to top what Rampage pulled off the other weekend. Floating DJ booths, more lasers than ravers, Eptic coming home, SaSaSaS leaving tears in people’s eyes, FuntCase surprising everyone, a room 2 that’s actually good, an emotional farewell to Noisia – the weekend was filled with special memories. Every raver entered the venue with a smile on their face, and they left the venue exactly the same way (just a little more tired and sweaty).

With two more Rampage events due to take place in 2022, it’s fair to say Rampage is well and truly back on its feet after two years of struggle.


Rampage Open Air 2022 takes place on 8-9th July 2022. To get the latest news and info on ticket sale dates, join the Rampage Open Air 2022 Waiting List here.

Rampage 2022 Renegade is also set to take place at Antwerp's Sportspaleis on 7-8th October. To book your tickets, accommodation, and travel head to our shop.

Check out Murdock's new single 'Come Together' here, and for a free download of the Rampage anthem, click here.


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