When the promoters of the annual Wet Electric at Tempe's Big Surf Waterpark touted the event as the "biggest pool party in North America," they weren't lying. After all, the two-day electronic dance music festival on Saturday, April 25, and Sunday, April 26, took place within the confines of the park's 2.5-million gallon wave pool, one of the largest in the U.S., and featured some of the biggest DJs and producers in the world, including Tiesto, Dillon Francis, Caked Up, Sultan and Ned Shepard, Tommy Trash, and Will Sparks. It also offered thousands of revelers clad in bikinis, board shorts, and bathing suits, who braved overcast skies and engaged in much raging both in and out of the water. Here's what we learned.
Dillon Francis Puts on a Great Show. Francis' live set was pleasantly impressing. Musically, he had a great balance of crowd pleasing and popular tracks like "Runaway" by Galantis and Diplo's "Express Yourself," original music and new music. His set was upbeat and did a good job of keeping the crowd engaged and and energetic throughout his performance. There was never a moment where he lost the crowd, and he didn't go too hard to where he exhausted them. The visual aspect of the performance with the explosion of streamers of crowd, CO2 blasts, fire, and lights, harmonized with the music, producing a stimulating show for all of the senses.
Tommy Trash's Live Act is Completely Different Now. Listening to Trash's sets from three years ago versus today is like listening to a completely different DJ. Trash's older sets were harder with an electro flare, with that guiding, signature Tommy Trash rolling electronic groove. His older sets were packed with original and new music, that stood out with a distinct sound. His set at Wet Electric mirrored his recent podcasts: intertwined with deep house and current hit tracks, with very little original music, playing only a few classics like "Reload" and "Ladi Dadi" at the end.
Selfie Sticks are as Bad in Person as They Look You know the people who go to concerts and spend time meticulously recording everything that happens, taking notes, snapping pictures, and otherwise focusing on screens and equipment rather than the music and the party? The people whose concert attendance has the effect of diluting their wages to Taco Bell levels or worse? Yeah, those people are called music journalists. Why anyone would want to inflict that sort of pain upon themselves is beyond us. Selfie sticks are just another way to distract yourself from being in the moment and truly appreciating what's going on around you. The worst part is, they require even more attention and deliberation than a smart phone. Why bother?
Having a Zip-Line at a Festival is Actually a Good Idea. Anything with an above-average level of danger is usually not a seemingly good idea to coordinate with a rave: skydiving and racing cars being among some ideas that festivals should forever keep out of their plans. The addition of the zip-line is something new and different that you don't see at every event; with a containable level of danger that makes it exciting. The zip-line was extremely safe, with a friendly staff, and offered great views of the park and the event. With a lot of people reluctant to go on water slides due to the weather, it also offered something else to do other than drink and dance.The cost was also pretty affordable at only $10 for general admission and free for the VIPs.
Happily Disturbing Visuals are a Trend Dillon Francis displayed cartoon visuals on the stage's screens that were minimal and at first glance happy, but when you really focused on what you were looking at, you realized you were staring at shaking, cartoon eyeball-boobs. Strange visuals have definitely become a trend among DJs. From collage style cut-outs to acid-trip reminiscent cartoons acting out in symbolic and disturbing ways, we see this with acts like Dada Life and Zeds Dead.
Heart-shaped Sunglasses for Ladies and Thick Plastic Chains for Dudes Are in. Festival fashion constantly changes. We first picked up on the heart-shaped sunglasses trend at Coachella, and now we're seeing them everywhere. It seemed like every fourth lady digging the pool and music at Wet Electric had hearts blocking the UV rays. One thing that doesn't make much sense is the chain necklace. It looked like the only dudes wearing them were regular BALCO customers, if you catch our drift. It's not a real chain, and no one cares how much you bench press, especially at a festival.
Water park and rave bathrooms are separately disgusting, together, they're a germaphobe's worst nightmare. The lady bathrooms at Wet Electric were the Picassos of dirty scenarios: piles of wet toilet pepper clinging together via dirty water, sprinkled in tampons, chunks of hair extensions and other feminine accessories. The bathroom situation didn't seem to quite support the capacity of the event, as there were constant lines no matter your gender. Sunday night one of the two female bathroom options closed down, funneling all of Wet Electric's female audience to one bathroom. With hundreds of people, many of whom weren't sober, having a handful of stalls to share rapidly grew to a pretty smelly and disgusting situation. The bathroom attendants worked as hard as they could to keep up with the flow of bathroom traffic — it was definitely not an easy job.
ASU Students Love EDM This probably has something to do with the festival's timing, right before finals begin — students had no excuses, besides jobs, studying and other boring stuff, not to go. If we had $1 for every time parts of the crowd spontaneously broke into and "ASU" chant, we'd have, like, $5. But it goes to show just how young the audience for this festival skewed.
Silent Disco was Nutty but Fun What's more fun than watching drunk 20-somethings dance like no one's watching at a pool party? Watching drunk 20-somethings wear goofy headphones and dance to a beat you can't hear. The silent disco at Wet Electric was a hit this year. People exchanged IDs for headphones, and a DJ beamed tunes directly to delighted ears.
They Need More Costumes at Wet Electric There simply aren't enough costumes here at Wet Electric. Yes, it's a water park and most costumes are no good wet. But perhaps there's a middle ground. Maybe the EDM world needs more bathing suits doubling as awesome costumes. Superhero outfits aren't that far removed from being actual wetsuits. The more opportunities people have to make asses of themselves at concerts, the better the concert experience.
Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.
Like Up on the Sun on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest local music news and conversation.