Review: Hardwell, Zeds Dead at Phoenix Lights EDM Festival

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See also: The 50 Most Beautiful People at Coachella

Getting in was easy. The lines were short, there weren't any issues.

Upon entering attendees were immediately greeted by the RB Deep stage, which overlooked a grassy area where people were sitting and dancing. When I arrived Kill Frenzy was delivering groovy house beats that sent out relaxed Sunday vibes.

I was surprised to find that the crowd appeared to be more sober than not. Aside from the chick by the 21-and-over ID check who was passed out and being tended to by multiple paramedics, the crowd seemed to be in good spirits. It was only around 7 p.m., though.

Zeds Dead came on promptly at 7:30 with a blaring bass introduction that was hard to miss. The backdrop and the DJ booth were covered by digital screens that flickered visuals of space and mechanics between each bass kick. Laser lights shot out from the stage horizontally, cutting the space between the heads of the crowd and the sky. If you've listened to Zeds Dead's recent mix for Pete Tong's BBC Radio 1 show, the set was pretty similar to that. Zeds Dead played a lot of original music like "You Know" and "Collapse" along with a samples from Daft Punk, Deadmau5, Ca$ville, and Prodigy. Overall the set was solid and the crowd loved it.

After Zeds Dead played their final song for the night, there was some down time before Hardwell was ready to go. Heading back over to the RB Deep Stage I caught the tail end of Route 94's set, which seemed solid, although the bass on the stage was pretty overpowering and made it difficult to really hear the music.

I had never seen Hardwell before and his set was exactly what I had always assumed it would be like, which isn't a good thing. He played his original music like "Eclipse" and popular crowd pleasers like Calvin Harris' "Control," but there was nothing extremely creative or mind-blowing that swept me off my feet. It was just the same sort of pop-house stuff that you hear everywhere. There was a point in the set that showed potential when he dropped the opening piano chords to "Still Dre" by Dr. Dre, but it was literally a build up of the song intro that was smashed down into some ridiculous drop that didn't fit with the song at all. The Chronic 2001 is a classic. Ifif DJs are going to attempt to remix the greats, they need to do it right or not at all.

After about 30 minutes of being unimpressed by Hardwell, I decided to go explore the festival grounds. I really dug the location for this event. Not only was it pretty clean for festival standards, the artistic architecture with the "Her Secret Is Patience" art installation hovering over the park, with a few different multi-colored light installations gave the event something unique. The grassy and sitting areas made the event comfortable.

Visit the next page for Critic's Notebook and more photos.

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Amanda Savage
Contact: Amanda Savage