The most iconic Tomorrowland sets of all time
With Tomorrowland 2019 returning to the hugely popular 2012 theme, ‘The Book of Wisdom’, Tomorrowland has grown from a small gathering in Boom, a quiet and suburban area of the sleepy European nation, to become the biggest dance music event in the world, even surpassing rival festivals such as Ultra Music Festival in Miami or Electronic Daisy Carnival (EDC) in Las Vegas.
With Tomorrowland now stretching across two separate weekends, such is the size of the event, and insatiable demand for tickets, We Rave You take a look at the most iconic sets bestowed on ‘The People of Tomorrow’ across the course of the past decade with our countdown of the most iconic Tomorrowland sets of all time.
2010 – Swedish House Mafia
Acting as poster-boys for the rise of the EDM movement, Swedish trio Axwell, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso could never have imagined how important their impact on the world of dance music would later become. Releasing hits such as ‘Miami 2 Ibiza‘ and ‘One (Your Name)‘ at the turn of the decade, the SHM juggernaut helped catapult Tomorrowland into the spotlight commercially thanks to this monster of a set, which has amassed over 5 million YouTube views to this day.
2011 – Avicii
Back in summer 2011, a young-faced Swede by the name ‘Avicii’ was causing ripples through the electronic industry, with his euphoric blend of synth-based electronica which had already spawned iconic hits such as ‘Seek Bromance’ and ‘My Feelings For You’. Tim Bergling‘s meteoric rise – led by productions of a freakishly high level of quality never heard before – can be traced right back to this incredible Tomorrowland set where – playing an early afternoon set – Avicii amazed crowds with his remix of Coldplay‘s ‘Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall’ and the debut of his David Guetta collaboration ‘Sunshine’ under the watching eye of then-manager Ash Pournouri, and Afrojack.
2012 – Nervo
Best-known for their crazy energy and exuberant positive vibes, Aussie twins Liv & Mim (aka NERVO) are true Tomorrowland regulars, having rocked the mainstage year-after-year with bangers like ‘You’re Gonna Love Again’, ‘Reason’ and Nicky Romero collaboration ‘Like Home’. 2012 was no different as the girls enjoyed a huge breakthrough year, bringing a sensational edit of Coldplay’s ‘Viva La Vida’ and Porter Robinson classic ‘Language’ to the People of Tomorrow.
2013 – Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike
When you say the word ‘Tomorrowland’, the first act that will spring to mind for many is Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike. As Belgian natives, the duo have become true sons of Tomorrowland, headlining the festival’s mainstage every year. Famed for their whopping big-room sounds, 2013 was a particular highlight for the Belgian bros, who worked in Martin Solveig‘s ‘Hey Now’ and Macklemore’s ‘Thrift Shop’ to a truly mammoth set which also spawned TML anthem ‘Ocarina’ and has racked up over 23 million YouTube views so far.
2013 – Nicky Romero X David Guetta X Afrojack
What happens when three of the finest DJs in the world go b2b2b? Well in 2013, we found out when French legend David Guetta was joined by Dutch pair Nicky Romero and Afrojack for his set and the performance became one of the finest musical threesomes of all time. Kicking off the set with that summer’s biggest track, Fatboy Slim anthem ‘Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat’, the set is still regarded as a truly legendary Tomorrowland moment.
2013 – Hardwell
By the time 2013 came around, the golden progressive era was fizzling out and was soon to be replaced by the rise of big-room, a genre led by Dutch maestro Hardwell. Arriving in the midst of a huge year – later documented in his ‘I Am Hardwell’ movie – the people of Tomorrowland were taught to ‘Go Hardwell or Go Home’ as the ‘Spaceman‘ producer treated fans to one of his finest sets of all time, and still to this day – one of the most viewed sets on 1001Tracklists.com. The performance later led to Hardwell being crowned the world’s number #1 DJ in the 2013 DJ Mag Top 100 poll.
2014 – David Guetta
Following the launch of his album ‘Listen’ in summer 2014, David Guetta made headlines at Tomorrowland in July, when a viral meme launched of the French legend staring into space during his set. Fixated on no particular object, Guetta lost himself for around 45 seconds before sparking back into life and producing one of the most sensational sets of the festival, sparking mass emotional euphoria when he dropped his melodic hit ‘Without You’.
2015 – Axwell Λ Ingrosso
Following the 2013 finale of their Swedish House Mafia project, Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso soon found themselves back on the Tomorrowland mainstage as a duo in 2015, headlining the event on Saturday night and airing several of their new tracks including ‘Barricade’, ‘This Time’ and ‘Sun Is Shining’ to the Boom-based crowd. Mixing several of EDM’s biggest hits, including Daft Punk‘s ‘One More Time‘ with their own classic ‘Save The World’, this was the set that truly marked their arrival as a duo – and ended the intense clamour from fans for an immediate SHM return… for a couple of years anyway.
2016 – Oliver Heldens
Having burst into primetime consciousness with his UK number #1 single ‘Gecko’ in 2014, Dutch future-house supremo Oliver Heldens continued his meteoric ascent throughout the following years, crafting huge hits such as ‘Koala’, ‘Melody’ and Tiësto collaboration ‘Wombass’. Securing a place in the Top 10 of the annual DJ Mag Top 100 and building up a flurry of releases on his Heldeep Records label, Oli was now a true global superstar and was rewarded with a mainstage slot, where he introduced Aussie starlet Throttle – who came out playing a slick electric guitar – during the premiere of their massive collab ‘Waiting‘.
2017 – Axwell
There are a few things in dance music which are classed as a true treat, and the Axwell solo set is certainly one of these. A real rarity, given his work alongside Sebastian Ingrosso, or beside Steve Angello in Swedish House Mafia, Tomorrowland has become famous in recent years as a venue to catch Ax doing his thing individually as he hosts his very own Axtone stage in the Freedom tent. Bringing ‘Nothing But Love’ via an insatiable back-catalogue of iconic whoppers, including ‘In The Air’, this one was truly legendary!
2018 – Salvatore Ganacci
Last year’s most viral Tomorrowland set was undoubtedly the work of maverick producer Salvatore Ganacci. For the first time, a TML set was spoke about – not for the musical content – but because of the actions of the DJ, with Salvatore performing a number of hilarious dance routines on top of the decks. In what was essentially a one-hour workout class, Ganacci led his crowd by humping and pumping away with some questionable moves, and as far as marketing ploys go, it worked a treat! Ganacci became the world’s most booked DJ in the following month and has seen his profile soar following the stunt.
2018 – Vini Vici
Last year’s ‘Story of Planaxis‘ also marked a huge moment in the legacy of psy-trance as the sub-genre was welcomed to the mainstage in the form of Israeli duo Vini Vici (aka Aviram Saharai & Matan Kadosh). Dropping their Armin van Buuren & ALOK collaboration ‘United‘, the duo also worked in selections from the likes of Tiësto, Avicii, Otto Knows, Queen, The Verve, and Daft Punk, in what was truly one of the most brilliantly eclectic sets of all time.
2018 – Alesso
Swedish prog-prince Alesso faced intense backlash following the first weekend of Tomorrowland last year, when his mainstage set was largely criticised by many sectors of the dance music industry. Bringing Bad Bunny on stage alongside him, Alesso’s performance featured heavy sections of latin music as he dropped tracks from Cardi B and J Balvin. But just one week later, Alesso returned with a bang! Marking a return to his prog roots, the Swede stunned the crowd in the Freedom Stage with two hours of pure progressive perfection.
2019 – Tiësto
When Tiësto turned up to play the mainstage on W1 of Tomorrowland 2019, many fans were unsure of what to expect, such is the hugely eclectic nature of one of the finest DJs of all time. After moving from trance to more of a big-room EDM style in recent times, Tiësto chose this particular occasion to pay tribute to his good friend Tim Bergling (aka Avicii), spinning this hugely emotional edit of ‘Without You‘ Vs Dimitri Vangelis & Wyman‘s ‘Penny’. It proved to tug at the Dutch maestro’s heartstrings, as he began crying on stage, later telling people his tears were because of the memories a certain song can bring back and the people it makes you think about.
With Tomorrowland 2020 taking place next summer, who do you want to see at the 16th anniversary edition? Let us know on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!