DanceMission at Madison Event Center, 2/24/12

DanceMission with 12th Planet and more Madison Event Center Friday, February 24

Not to be too dramatic, but I probably suffered some permanent hearing damage last night while watching 12th Planet. It would take a doctor to confirm (perhaps even Doctor P), but there's been a constant ringing in my ears after getting blasted with the deadly drops, filthy hooks, and the screeching sirens inherent to his gorey electronica and dubstep.

And you know what? It was completely worth it. Being able to witness an artist as skilled as 12th Planet (currently one of only a handful of truly great dubsteppers in the world) perform an epic set both in his prime and at the apex of his popularity is something any EDM fan should do.

​And it indeed was an epic set. When he last blew through town last October on the Mothership Tour, 12th Planet (a.k.a. John Dadzie) only got a 45-minute set opening for his padawan Skrillex. This time around, however, the spotlight was all his as he put on a two-hour performance while headlining the DanceMission electronica event.

It was pure unhinged exhilaration as Dadzie's gig was perfect melding of music, light, color, and showmanship. When he took to the stage, the roar that greeted him was so insanely loud that it was scary. He opened with a brand new track -- an untitled collaboration with Flinch (who also appeared at DanceMission) -- and the packed ground floor instantly turned into a sea of movement. The club kids and ravers were here to party, and they weren't afraid to show it.

Dadzie kept hitting the crowd with wave after wave of original tracks like "Burst" and "Lootin' 92" as well as remixes aplenty. He gave his due to his erstwhile prodigy Skrillex (natch) by playing such tracks as "Syndicate" and "All I Ask of You," before busting into Borgore's "Fuck Dem Hoes" and Avicii's "Levels" (which is constitutionally mandated to be played by every DJ at least once per night).

He masterfully built the energy of his set to bigger drops and even more grueling bass detonations, with each climax resulting in an explosions of light and pixilated video from the large LED video wall in front of his DJ booth. And each time, the crowd was transformed into a heaving, uncontainable mass of energy.

And if dancing was indeed the mission of the more than 500 people in attendance (the biggest crowd at the Madison since last year's Colossal Event), then they accomplished it. The crowd was a maelstrom of movement as Dadzie laid down his audio assault. Hell, even the off-duty officers from the Phoenix Police Department who were moonlighting as security bobbed their heads to the beats.

Given the current electronica zeitgeist, it's guaranteed that thousands of club kids and twentysomethings will - much like Skrillex did before them - get into the EDM game with dreams of superstardom. After they get done raiding their student loan money to buy a MacBook Pro and downloading a pirated copy of Ableton Live, they might want to take a few pointers from Dadzie on the art of making electronica as well as how to pull off a captivating show and maintain an arresting stage presence.

As much as his music stoked the audience, Dadzie's artistry got him moving as well. Dadzie's fed off the crowd's energy and even one-upped their dance moves with a storm of kung-fu moves, followed by primal howling and hopping on his console. The dude was pumped.

But not as pumped as the folks outside watching co-headliners Tritonal perform. There was a certain raw and unhinged energy to the Austin, Texas duo's electro-laden trancescapes. From their very first track, Chad Cisneros and Dave Reed dropped an inspired showcase of harmonics and relentless electronica rhythms on their fans.

It started on a high note with the club mix of their track 'Broken Down' from this album Piercing the Quiet and setting a tone for the whole rest of the night. The pair's one of a kind melodies and vocals would cut to thick techy progressive grooves followed by driving uplifting trance and then back down, just long enough to catch your breath before the next explosion.

As the night progressed the energy in the room built higher and higher and was precisely released with monster tracks like "Kernkraft 400 (Chris Schweitzer Bootleg)," Above & Beyond's "You Got To Go" and Nero's "Promises," as well as their very own club mix of Craig Connelly's "Absolute Electric."

By early this morning when DanceMission came to end, those in attendance were sweaty, spent of energy, and probably sporting some ringing ears as well.

Critic's Notebook

Last Night: DanceMission featuring 12th Planet and Tritonal at Madison Event Center

Better Than: The Mothership Tour last fall.

Personal Bias: I have more 12th Planet mixes (and remixes) on my iPod and hard drive than any other EDM artist.

The Crowd: The usual assortment of rave kiddies mixed with coifed clubbers, burners, and rockers,

Number of times I heard Avicii's "Levels" remixed: At least eight by my count.

Drug of choice at the concert: Marijuana, given the huge amounts of smoke in the main hall. Seriously, it was like a reggae show.

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