In 2006, a study by National Geographic revealed that a shocking 50 percent of teenagers were uninformed when it came to geography, many of them even failing to identify New York on a map.
Six years hence, we're willing to bet that members of the 18 to 25 demographic are far better at picking out cities on a map, particularly if they're fans of electronic dance music and the burgs in question host any of the dozens of blockbuster music festivals that take place across the country and around the world.
Miami, for instance, has both the Winter Music Conference and Ultra; Rothbury, Michigan, has Electric Forest; San Francisco hosts LovEvolution; and Las Vegas and NYC each boasts the great godhead of 'em all, the much-ballyhooed Electric Daisy Carnival.
Until 2011, Phoenix pretty much had nothing. Enter local nightlife promoter Steve Levine, who debuted the Sound Wave Music Festival last April. The DJ-laden extravaganza, which takes over Tempe waterpark Big Surf, finally gave Arizona a bona fide yearly EDM massive to call its own in a time when there aren't many big, locally oriented festivals in the Valley, period.
This year's Sound Wave promises to be bigger than last year's event, offering three stages, each of which will features more than a dozen artists performing for club kids, raveheads, EDM aficionados, or fans of DJ artistry. Here are four things we're looking forward to seeing when not dodging fist-pumpers and glowstick-flingers:
Seven Lions: Like many embryonic EDM producers, Jeff Montalvo, better known as Seven Lions, went from twiddling and fiddling with dubstep beats and grinds in his bedroom to getting flung into stardom after his work was discovered by major-name DJs. In this case, it was British trance gods Above & Beyond, who gave him their seal of approval after he won a 2010 Beatport remix contest of the trio's collaboration of Zoe Johnston's "You Got to Go."
Unlike many of his dubstep peers, however, Montalvo's mojo is a bit subtler with his sounds, as his sound cross-pollinates bassy booms with more laid-back and melodic electronica (creating what's been described as "trancestep") that's awash in trippy vibes and the dreamy vocals provided by UK club queen Shaz Sparks. It will definitely be a more subdued form of dubstep than the face-melting sound of other festival performers.
Adventure Club: Montreal-born brothers James and Christian Srigley also know a thing or two about making it big on Beatport. The luscious remixes and dubstep hotness produced by the siblings, who perform as Adventure Club, have nabbed plenty of notice (as well as downloads on their über-popular website, including their insanely listenable transformation of Flight Facilities' "Crave You." The Srigleys specialize in unleashing spinning enticing dollops of electro, dub, and hip-hop — and they killed it over the summer at both EDC and Electric Forest.
Red Bull Thre3style: Unlike the energy drink company's nationwide DJ battle of the same name, however, the Thre3style Massive will function as a second at Sound Wave and will boast an array of established talent that's a bit more diverse than the Waikiki Beach lineup. Case in point: Aussie street performer Dub FX, who's essentially a human version of Ableton, will create trippy rhythms via effect pedals, beatboxing, and live electronica looping. Others making an appearance on the stage include electro fiends Designer Drugs, English "scratch pervert" and former Major Lazer participant Switch, Vancouver noise-pop artist Felix Cartal, and Valley expats (and party rock gurus) Fashen and D-JR.
Z-Trip: Speaking of local bigwigs, Thre3style's headliner is worthy of his own entry in our list, based solely on his legendary status in the Valley music scene, not to mention his enormous aptitudes for cutting, mashing, scratching, and — most important — crafting sets unlike no other. Just ask anyone in attendance at last year's Sound Wave how Z-Trip shined brightly during the evening's penultimate performance.
The erstwhile Zach Sciacca, one-third of the renowned Bombshelter DJs, gorged the crowd with a frenetic feast of old-school tunes (such as Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing" and "Show Me Love" by Robin S.) soaked in new-school cool like dubstep hooks and fidgety glitchery. The showstopping set was got even more boss when Z-Trip brought the members of local b-boy troupe Foot Klan onstage to drop helicopters and headspins while he demonstrated some ill scratching. It was a tough act for headliner Kaskade to follow and left us eager to see what Sciacca has planned for this year.