If ever there were a soundtrack to Memorial Day Weekend, it'd be electronic dance music. That's because EDM will be in abundance during MDW, whether it's in the dance clubs of Scottsdale, Tempe, and Downtown Phoenix or around the pools of the nearest swanky boutique hotel.
As such, some of the Valley's more prominent dance music promoters and venues are planning some big gigs over the three-day holiday, including bringing in some famous names and living legends from the DJ world to do their thing for the dance music masses.
To wit: Maya Day & Nightclub will boast spin sessions by Lil Jon and Dutch dance music act Showtek over the weekend, while INTL will feature the likes of Laidback Luke and Felix Cartal, and the outdoor concert stage up at Talking Stick Resort hosts three straight days of renowned DJs. And that's just in Scottsdale.
Downtown Phoenix will also get in on the action via Memorial Day weekend performances by such cats as Henry Fong, Simon Patterson, and Sied van Riel.
To help local EDM fiends decide where to go and who to see, we've assembled a rundown of several of the best gigs that will be happening from Friday, May 23, to Monday, May 26.
Thanks to the laws of gravity, physics, and common sense, it's incredibly unlikely that the scene inside Maya during Lil Jon's guest DJ set on Friday will result in the sort of massive property destruction and face-melting insanity seen in the bizarre video for "Turn Down For What," his collaboration with DJ Snake. That's not to say that those in attendance won't try to replicate some of the loonier body-bumping dance moves when the crunk king drops the mega-hit track, as well as a slew of hip-hop, electro, and EDM songs. Here's hoping, however, that no one tries to crash through the walls or destroy any furniture with their crotches.
The 37-year-old house producer and DJ known as Laidback Luke first got his kicks in his native Holland as a graffiti artist. When the thrill of the physical and legal danger wore off around the mid-Nineties, he turned to music. Still, he preserved the sly cunning of the graffiti writer in the name of his eventual record label: Stealth. His epic house sets are similarly sneaky, beginning with an easily digestible synth appetizer before winding into a banging main course. As a producer, he has released a couple of studio albums, but he has really heated up the scene with his remixes. His sound is hard, but not too hard, and undeniably funky, full of the kind of big-room bangers that draws crowds in England and Ibiza. -- Arielle Castillo
Henry Fong is a relatively new arrival to the EDM world, as he's only DJ'd professionally since 2011 and has been creating both beats and tracks for only about two years. But that doesn't mean that the Orlando-based producer is lacking in the talent department by any means. A gifted beatsmith and mixmaster in the realms of progressive and electro-house, Fong's quite adroit at crafting epic big-room jams and enticing remixes. Several of his efforts have popped on Beatport's top 10, like ther fantastic solo track "Stand Up" and "Encore," his collaboration with MAKJ. Better catch him at Monarch this weekend before he rockets into the EDM superstar stratosphere.
It's safe to say that Havana Brown's dance-pop ditty "Warrior" has been a bit of a smash. After all, it currently ranks as the second most popular entry on Billboard's Dance Club Songs rundown (better watch your back Avicii) and has gone double platinum in her native land of Australia. It's par for the course for the singing starlet, who had similar success in 2013 with the Dutch house-influenced "We Run the Night," which featured an appearance by Pitbull. Brown ain't just another pretty pop singer from down under, however, as she's skilled as a DJ, as evidenced by her packed SoundCloud, and has been mixing and spinning since 2008.
Under normal circumstances, a solo performance by either one of these European DJ/producers would be worth catching. But given the fact that the two will co-headline a night at Monarch Theatre makes such a gig all the more epic. Both the Irish-born Patterson and the Netherlands-based van Riel are gurus when it comes to weaving trance soundscapes of the progressive, psychedelic and tech variety. Ditto for their openers Victor Dinaire and local DJ Tony Vertigo, which should make for an evening of trippy sounds at the Monarch.
Schooled in DJing during the Chicago house boom of the mid '80s, Bad Boy Bill first made a name for himself distributing promo mixtapes out of the trunk of his car. (Many even credit him as the founding father of the mixtape.) A few years later, the DJ was recruited by radio personality and house legend Farley Jackmaster Funk for on-air work at WGCI Chicago, where Bill honed the rapid-fire chops that made him famous.
In the '90s and 2000s, Bill toured heavily internationally and released a series of compilation records, including an all-time best-seller of dance music, a five-volume set titled Bangin' the Box. And he has continued to garner critical acclaim throughout the years, regularly ranking among DJ Magazine's Top 100. In this decade, the house music-veteran has embraced the new generation's hybrid EDM sounds, mixing equal parts house, rock, and hip-hop -- and always with his signature banging, peak-hour energy. -- Sean Levisman
We're only about halfway through 2014 and it's shaping up to be an epic year for Sjoerd and Wouter Janssen, better known as Showtek. They've dropped three outstanding tracks -- including "BAD," their co-production with David Guetta and the club hit "Cannonball (Earthquake)" -- debuted their own imprint Skink Records, performed at Coachella, and continued to ride the success of the chart-scorching track "Booyah." The duo isn't resting on their laurels anytime soon, as they've been busy touring clubs and festivals around the world and finding time between gigs to bust out their next big banger. "When we're in the studio, we go crazy," says Wouter in a recent interview. Thing is, they also tend to do the same when manning the DJ booth, which you can see for yourself during their later afternoon performance at Maya in Scottsdale on Sunday.
The duo of Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland are not only two of electronic dance music's godfathers, having been DJing since way back in 1993, but are also a case study in longevity. They've endured much in their two decades -- including the rise and fall and rise of EDM's popularity, as well as Kirkland's brain surgery last year -- and continued performing and producing. The Crystal Method's sound has constantly evolved over the years, from their big beat days in the late '90s (which was pumping out of the sound systems of clubs and appearing on the soundtracks of countless movies) to their more trip-hop and synthpop sound of their most recent self-titled release. So expect to see EDM fans of all ages at their Memorial Day showcase at Talking Stick in Scottsdale.
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