Identity Festival 2012
With Eric Prydz, Excision, Doctor P, Porter Robinson, Le Castle Vania, Audrey Napoleon, and others
Klipsch Ampitheater at Bayfront Park, Miami
Saturday, August 4, 2012
Better Than: Surviving a hurricane that never arrived
potential effects of Hurricane Irene, and then eventually canceled. But this year, ID Fest came back for its SoFla beat freaks.
The 2011 cancellation was a real shame. With a lineup featuring EDM big-hitters such as Kaskade, Steve Aoki, and Rusko, as well as more cerebral artists such as DJ Shadow and Booka Shade, Identity seemed to offer a potent mix of eclectic electronic acts at the sort of price that one could easily spend on a round of drinks.
But of course, a lot has happened in the past year. EDM is not just huge now. It seems to have become an unstoppable movement, a youth lifestyle and maybe an ever-expanding commercial bubble.
If nothing else, the popularity tsunami of the past twelve months probably detrimentally affected this year's lineup.
Kaskade packed out the Klipsch on his own a few weeks ago. So while the Identity brand hasn't attracted the sort of names for 2012 that it did in 2011, the fest certainly offers a progressive and intriguing view of the near future.
On that note, arriving early to see the LA-based Audrey Napoleon at the heavily branded Rockstar Energy Drink Stage instantly felt like the smart move.
One of the relatively few females in EDM today, Napoleon moved between mixes of Estelle, Bastian von Shield, Manuel Lauren, and her own edits with fluidity, playful cool, and natural sense of sassy confidence. And when she dropped her big crossover electro-house track, "Poison," it seemed to herald the start of the day.
Next, the enigmatically named Le Castle Vania began by throwing
down a big remix of hardcore legends Refused's "New Noise." It was a ballsy way to start
and he ably maintained that intensity, mixing bass-infused Euro-electro with beautiful noise.
During his set, Le Castle Vania transformed the portion of green grass in front of the stage into a free-flowing dance party. And like Audrey Napoleon, he inspired a manic crowd reaction that just might suggest he's on the cusp of a major commercial breakthrough.
As the day progressed, the number of EDM fanatics flooding into Bayfront Park steadily increased and the arrival of the Porter Robinson at the iHome Main Stage just before sundown drew a predictably huge crowd.
Fresh from playing the first day of Lollapalooza, this Skrillex-approved producer is clearly an artist on the rise. Of course, it would be easy to cynically dismiss his incredibly contemporary and fashionable hybrid of electro-house and dubstep. But the tracks Robinson unraveled from his Spitfire record were greeted by the wild and enthusiastic crowd like well-loved anthems of now.
Meanwhile, over at the Rockstar stage, Doctor P dropped the kind of melodic mid-range brostep screech that's become so pervasive during the last couple of years.
In truth, the English producer is undoubtedly a master of his limited art, throwing down 60- to 90-second edits of huge bass-drop crowd-pleasers that moved seamlessly between Monstar's "Put Ya Hands Up" to Flux Pavillion's "Bass Cannon" and Nero, Plan B and even a slightly strange Ed Sheeran bass remix.
But while he undoubtedly held the crowd in his hand, it's difficult to know how to critically judge this stuff. It's huge, visually immense, and powerful. Yet it also feels artistically vapid, predictable, and sonically dry. Thousands undoubtedly loved it and the rapturous response can't be ignored. However, it seems he could be any one of a certain group of producers and the reaction would be the same.
As Swedish superproducer Eric Prydz closed the heaving iHome stage with a
dexterously executed master class in house music and Canadian dubstepper Excision
brought the last of many aggressive bass-drops to the Rockstar stage, the ID scene in Miami was a moment that crisply captured contemporary electronic music.
Identity undoubtedly worked well as a stand-alone event. Yet it also seemed to lack a certain sense of character. This year's booking felt more perfunctory than inspirational -- though in the midst of the EDM revolution, these qualms are almost irrelevant
But still, it'll be interesting to see if this rave is still raging a few years from now.
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Personal Bias: I drank so much Rockstar Energy Drink ... By 11 p.m., I was a caffeinated mess.
Overheard in the Crowd: "That guy looks like Fernando Torres..." - Le Castle Vania's bright blond hair provoked some random responses.
Most Popular T-Shirt: It seemed as if 50 percent of the attendees were wearing a variant of "Drop Bass Not Bombs," "I ♥ You, But I've Chosen Dubstep," or "Womp Womp Womp."