Concerts

Identity Festival at Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavilion, 8/19/12

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That's because the oppressive August heat that baked the Valley resulted in the Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavilion being half-full (at best) during yesterday's visit by the big-dollar touring EDM extravaganza. Those who chose to stay cool and stay home missed out, however, as Identity Festival was worth weathering the heat.

A eight-hour all-you-can-eat beat buffet was served up to a sea of rave fanatics, club kids, and EDM aficionados at the outdoor venue, offering a mix of acts and artists of the highest caliber ranging from electro-house, trance, hardstyle, drum 'n' bass, and dubstep (natch).

It has all the hallmarks of a primo rave, only in a much bigger venue with a far more star-studded lineup. (Sadly, one superstar who was conspicuous by his absence was Dutch electro-house bigwig Hardwell, who had to cancel several recent appearances this past week due to a bout with the flu.)

The official color of the festival was neon, as attendees came brightly dressed in their finest dayglo wear and were ready to party. And the official slogan of the event was undoubtedly "jump," which was spat by many a DJ in order to induce leaping and dancing amongst the crowds gathered at either of the two major stages. (Many artists also utilized the oft-dropped clip from Chuckie's "Who's Ready to Jump?")

The plastic seats populating the lower level of the erstwhile Cricket Pavilion truly make for a lousy dance floor, but the Identity Festival attendees made the best of the situation as they bumped, bounced, and greeted each EDM artist with an ultra-enthusiastic response.

Audrey Napoleon got the crowd primed for a day of dancing with her early afternoon set of remixes and bootlegs, including her potent reworkings of "I'm Free" by William Orbit and The Cure's "Just Like Heaven," which boasted Robert Smith's memorable lyrics processed and transformed into a robotic Daft Punk kind of vocal vibe. She also pulled out sounds from her trademarked "Sex Tape" mix tapes that are available online.

When I asked Napoleon prior to the Identity Fest's stop in Phoenix why hearing tracks such as these, or any other EDM artist, in person was preferable instead of listening in your bedroom, she stated the following:

"It's different, for the experience of it all. You can listen to a mix of their songs all day in your bedroom but when you actually see it live and you see the passion behind it and watch the artists give their all into a performance," Napoleon says.

Russian-born trance trickster Arty certainly was giving his all during his main stage gig, getting heartbeats pounding and asses moving with an invigorating mixture of high-energy tracks firmly in the four-on-the-floor genres as the graphics of his video package declared, "No Arty, No Party."

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.