Whatever deity runs the universe -- be it Yahweh, Ganesha, Mother Nature, or even the Flying Spaghetti Monster -- we're starting to wonder if they might have a beef with EDM festivals held at Big Surf in Tempe. Three years ago, during the first-ever Soundwave, it rained cats and dogs. And during the first part of Wet Electric 2014 this past Saturday, storm clouds brewed early in the day and colder than normal temps made it a bit chilly.
Although there were several thousands on hand, most stayed out of the water park's wave pool where the stage was located. Good thing Wet Electric's organizers made it a two-day event this year and had a bigger turnout on Sunday at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale.
It drove home the notion that the annual EDM festival is better off taking place over a whole weekend, which was one of several things we learned after attending Wet Electric. And here's a few other insights.
9. Tupac Lives And has apparenly gotten a sex change and started hanging out at random EDM festivals with Slippy Toad from Star Fox and Kung Fu Panda's molly'd up sister. In other news, you can get away with wearing pretty much any sort of mask at a rave or DJ event.
8. Wet Electric is Better Over Two Days A one-day EDM festival loaded up with talented DJs and producers can be quite fantastic. Spectacular even. But when you make it two days, it gets even better. It allows a bigger lineup, longer sets, and -- let's face it -- another chance to rage. And in the case of Wet Electric 2014, Sunday's party Talking Stick was an instantaneous makeup day for anyone who was shivering or reluctant to stay in the water at Big Surf on Saturday because of unseasonably cooler temps. Tickets for day one even got people access to day two, which was a wise move in retrospect by promoters.
7. Talking Stick Needs to Host More Big EDM Events At most EDM-infused pool parties around town, DJs do their thing under a small tent or awning. At Wet Electric, they got to perform on enormous stage equipped by a huge LED wall and killer sound system. While admittedly, it was installed for Talking Stick's summertime concert series -- which kicks off this week and includes the likes of Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, Staind, and Collective Soul -- Wet Electric's organizers got to reap the benefit.
And since its performers were elevated and the resort's pool area is flat, the sightlines were generally excellent (save for a few trees here and there). Plus, the 14-floor hotel tower not only contains the sound fairly well, it offers a lot shade from the sun. If you're game to see more marquee-level DJs at Talking Stick, you won't be waiting long -- Crystal Method, Bad Boy Bill, and Richard Vission are scheduled to spin there over Memorial Day Weekend.
6. DJ Hemmesphere Can Cut A Rug Club DJs have a yen for being quite animated behind the mixers, to say the least. Moving and jumping as much as their beats are bumping, they attempt to get things going in whatever nightspot they're working with some moves of their own. But while we've seen many a mixmaster busting a groove in the booth while dropping tracks or crowdsurfing, a DJ hitting the dance floor in the middle of their set is something we've never witnessed. Well, until this past weekend, that is.
Old Town Scottsdale regular Hemmesphere took time during her local stage gig on Saturday at Big Surf to shake a tailfeather with attendees and fans. "You all look like you're having so much fun out there, I think I'll join you," the she-jay stated before putting on a longer cut, hopping down from the booth, and proceeding to boogie down.
5. Manufactured Superstars Party with the People Those who sprung for a VIP-level tickets to Wet Electric not only got all the high-roller trappings (bottle service seating, cabana access, et al.), but also got to party with the men of Manufactured Superstars. We spied both Shawn Sabo and Bradley Roulier (who helped found Beatport and co-owns Denver's top EDM spot Club Beta) drinking and chatting up those occupying the VIP jetty out in the middle of the Big Surf wave pool and also backstage after their set on Saturday. And they kept their astronaut gear on while doing so. Nice to know they didn't simply beat feet back to their bus or suite within seconds of finishing things up, unlike a few other superstars did.
4. DJ Lujan is a Great Opener and Closer If we could only bottle the energy and emotion shown by DJ Lujan on Sunday, we could power the Valley for at least a week. Maybe more. The Scottsdale resident and house music maestro was all smiles and glee when he was mixing onstage, and considering he got to serve as one of the openers of day two and the cat who closed the entire festival. And he did it with style and skill, building things with upbeat sounds and warming up the crowd and then keeping the energy going with electro and club bangers after the headliners had left.
It sort of reminds us of something he said during an interview with Up On the Sun a few years ago: "I always say that music is the fuel that drives my life and soul," Lujan stated. "When I DJ -- with any of my sets, mixes, CDs, and podcasts -- I like to take my audience on a progressive journey, starting off [with] slower, chiller, feel-good music and building up to the end where I'm playing big room, fist-pumping and super epic music."
3. Dash Berlin Isn't Afraid of Heights It's sort of a DJ thing to leap up on the mixers for mid-set theatrics, which - depending on the club and the fame level of the particular selector - is either tolerated or forbidden. Because of the particular setup on Saturday at Big Surf, the distance between the top of the booth onstage and the cold hard concrete below was about 11 feet.
So when Dash Berlin decided to get elevated and...um, dashed atop the LED panel in front of his booth for some dancing, he was one bad step from taking a header followed by a trip to the nearest emergency room. Thankfully, the Dutch DJ was surefooted enough and got down after getting down for only a minute or two. We're guessing that Wet Electric's promoters then let out a sigh of relief.
2. Morgan Page Tends to Drive EDM Fans Wild Maybe its just us, but we've noticed something unusual happening whenever we've seen this house/electro/trance/progressive DJ digging into a mix: things tend to get a bit cray cray. Whether it was at the W Scottsdale during the Fourth of July in 2012 or during his headlining set on Sunday at Talking Stick, those in attendance go wild out. We're talking girls flashing, people making out, or crowd members just losing their shit.
Much was the case at Wet Electric when we saw Page whipping attendees into such frenzied behavior as five-alarm twerk-fests, massive amounts of people on each others shoulders, some sort of whacked out version of Ring Around the Rosie, and jags of salacious close-quarers contact. Perhaps its due to the fact that when Page typically goes on, it's usually at a point after the alcohol or other behavior-altering substances have really kicked in. Personally, however, we'd like to thinks its all the sexy electro grinds, kinky beats, and the non-stop audio pounding that loosens inhibitions.
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1. The Chainsmokers Are Masters of Delayed Gratification If you came out to Talking Stick to see The Chainsmokers on day two, it's incredibly likely you came to hear one song and one song only -- "#SELFIE." And the duo of Andrew Taggart and Alex Paul definitely obliged you...eventually. Oh sure, they teased the crowd at the beginning of the set with a few notes from the club megahit, but held off until about an hour later before dialing it up to the delight of the screaming, thong-wearing throng.
In the interim, they built the energy throughout one helluva set, which peaked with the words of a vapid blonde muttering about a dude named Jason looking at her when he was with another girl, trying to make her jealo...well, you know the rest.