Three sets within five hours can be a bit ambitious for most. Sometimes the line-up just isn't your thing. But it was hard to be steered wrong by the Markus Schulz SCREAM tour, with Schulz and support from KhoMha and The M Machine.
Walking into the venue, I immediately knew that a long and eventful night was under way. And I have to admit that this definitively upped my night after I'd just finished some job training. I thought that there was no way I could get out of my tired funk, but as soon as I stepped into The Venue that was all swept away by excitement and acknowledgement of the amount of talent that was in store last night.
KhoMha got the party started with an uplifting and progressive house and trance-ish groove. And, of course, his rendition of Showtek's "Cannonball" for the next act. Already the shuffling, LED glove light shows and handing shooting into the air were taking off. The crowd continued to grow dense throughout the set, and Schulz's time at the decks was still more than two hours away.
The M Machine trio DJ/production set nailed it. Their visual show captivated me from the opening song; the only way to describe the graphics on the huge LED screen behind the trio is that if someone were on a date with Lucy, they may have just found their true love or perhaps deeply confused and sucked into to some sort of mind warp.
On top of their visual performance,The M Machine has mastered the art of keyboards, singing, and DJing altogether for one glorious sound. They made sure to drop their own version of "Take a Walk" by Passion Pit without including a Taco Bell Instagram BS commercialism-style visual show. And let it be said, admittedly, that if an artist whips out Passion Pit, he's typically moved to my "amazing musicians list." Sorry that recognition isn't so broad-reaching as being named America's Best DJ, but I think it's at least a compliment.
Unlike most EDM shows that I have been to most recently, I was granted VIP access. Just in case you were wondering that means: I could go upstairs to view the show while looking down onto the crowd and the DJ. Yay me? Regardless of where I was, the crowd's reaction always summarizes the show -- the people truly tell it all. And the crowd just loved it; they were amped for Schulz to take to the stage.
At approximately midnight, Schulz walked up to the deck with both hands in the air, leading the crowd to make the same gesture back. Cue the part where everyone said that same cheesy line in their heads, but was proud of it anyway: "America's Best DJ is in the building."
Not a face was left unlit by the lights that covered the venue. He was here to show Scottsdale, Arizona's only stop, a good time -- and to throw himself a homecoming party, at that.
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The Venue, which I like to call 'the hall', considering that it stretches pretty far back -- giving plenty of room for lasers to dart around and leaving plenty of crowd space -- was packed all the way back to the sound booth. It was clear that Scottsdale showed to pay some respect and recognition to the man. And Markus provided the exact same back to the audience. He even stated that it was great to be back home (or at least back to a former home of his.)
The show he gave was a proper homecoming dance for everyone involved; he couldn't help but dance a bit himself and clap along, pointing out towards the audience as he grasped individuals' attention. He sand along to any song with a chorus, or words, for that matter, and kept throwing up his hands in the shape of a heart displaying his love for the crowd. Schulz wasn't just providing a good party, he was a part of it himself.
As big and loud as it was, the show felt intimate. Schulz's dance gave the audience something to mirror so that everyone was in the same moment, place, and motion within specific parts of each song. The infamous, 'woot ... woot' train sound flowed throughout the crowd. It was encouraged and noticed; Markus wanted it to be loud. After all, this is the SCREAM tour.
Critics Notebook: Last night: KhoMha, The M Machine and Markus Schulz at The Venue Scottsdale. The Crowd: It was good to see some fellow ravers and a welcoming Scottsdale crowd turn out for Schulz, the resident DJ years ago at The Works. Overheard: "I want to shuffle, but my high heels won't let me." -Random chick and first time shuffler. Random Notebook Dump: It was inspiring to seeing three or four guys rally together to lift up a man's wheelchair so that he could see the Schulz play over the crowd. That guy raged harder than most there. And those helpful guys truly show some PLUR spirit. Another Notebook Dump: Did that flag really just say Schulz Army Unicorn Slayers? Personal Bias: I was extremely happy with the choice of venue. It brought Markus back to Scottsdale with plentiful space to dance, unlike many other options.