Music Festivals

The Best Under-the-Radar Acts You Won't Want to Miss at EDC Vegas

Are you suffering from EDM-festival withdrawal? Does Ultra Miami's March 18, 2016, date seem light years away? Well, if you can afford a plane ticket to Vegas, you can get your fix this weekend. 

But with eight stages and more than 200 scheduled performers, figuring out who to see and where to go at EDC Vegas can be a bewildering task. Sure, you want to be there with all the masses when Tiësto and Hardwell go on. But what to do before then?

We're here to help. Here are ten relatively lesser-known artists who, whether you're into underground house, old-school trance, sleek drum 'n' bass, or skull-crushing dubstep, will turn you on to some new sounds while you're waiting for the marquee acts (we can't call them "headliners" because, as we all know, at EDC, the headliner is YOU).

Aaron Jackson
This Oregon producer has caught the ear of labels like Buygore and Monstercat with his distinctive style, which combines elements of U.K. house and garage with soulful vocals and plenty of wobbly bass. With support from Chuckie, Zeds Dead, AC Slater, and many more, you'll probably recognize some of his tracks, even if you don't yet know his name. At Stage 7, Saturday, 8 to 9 p.m.
Baggi Begovic
Ajdin "Baggi" Begovic's feel-good fusion of deep and big-room house is all the more remarkable considering his backstory. A Bosnian native who spent his early teens in detention camps and fleeing war zones, Baggi eventually landed in Rotterdam and quickly found a new home in the Dutch house scene. Tiësto was an early proponent, and Rita Ora, Rod Stewart, and Kelly Clarkson are among the growing list of pop stars who have turned to Baggi for peak-hour remixes of their hit songs. At the Circuit Grounds stage, Friday, 7 to 9 p.m.
L.A.'s own Trevor Bones has been holding it down in the local scene for years, bringing his fun yet filthy mix of house, garage, and ghettotech to residencies at AC Slater's monthly Night Bass parties and Insomniac's Inception Saturdays at Exchange LA. At EDC, he'll be part of the Night Bass lineup on Stage 7 on Sunday, which also includes Slater, Kry Wolf (see below), Chris Lorenzo, Jack Beats, and Motez, making it one of the weekend's can't-miss stages. At Stage 7, Sunday, 8 to 9 p.m.
Brainchild, AKA Brandon Elliot
You'll have plenty of opportunities to hear this L.A. DJ's self-described "banging tech booty house" at EDC: He's playing five sets throughout the weekend, including one throwback set that will nod to his roots in the SoCal drum 'n' bass scene. Elliot's label, Cats & Boots, specializes in supremely funky cuts with hip-hop vocal samples and dirty bass drops. With only about 500 SoundCloud followers, he's definitely one of the most under-the-radar acts on this year's lineup — but his infectious, party-ready style is sure to win him new fans. At the Funk House stage, Friday, 3 a.m. to close; other set times TBA.
Ilan Bluestone
Many trainspotters think this London-based producer is going to be the next big superstar in trance. He's already notched four trance number ones on Beatport and had the record of the week on Above & Beyond's Group Therapy radio show, along with spins from the likes of Tiësto, Pete Tong, and Armin van Buuren. His style, epic and euphoric but just gritty enough to stay interesting, is tailor-made for EDC's gargantuan sound systems. At the Circuit Grounds stage, Sunday, 7:25 to 8:25 p.m.

Juliet Fox
This Australian-born, London-based DJ, producer, and label boss (Attraction Music) specializes in an underground sound steeped in classic Chicago house and Detroit techno. With propulsive tracks like her latest on Toolroom, "Can't Sleep," she'll work the early arrivals at EDC to peak-hour levels of intensity. At Stage 7, Friday, 7 to 8 p.m.

Since 2002, Kasra Mowlavi's Critical Music label has pushed U.K. drum 'n' bass scene forward with essential releases from the likes of Enei, Rockwell, S.P.Y., and Foreign Concept. No less a D&B luminary than Goldie has hailed Kasra as a "kindred spirit." Too busy running his label to seek the spotlight, he's remained something of a well-kept secret outside of U.K. D&B circles. But in recent years, Kasra has been stepping out with more DJ gigs and radio appearances, as well as new EP with Enei called Inside the Box, which features several tracks likely to detonate EDC dance floors. At the Bass Pod stage B2B with Enei and Foreign Concept, Saturday, 8 to 9 p.m.

Kry Wolf
Think of this Bristol duo as the U.K.'s answer to Dirtybird Records — they've even collaborated with Dirtybird mainman Claude Von Stroke, who clearly digs their gritty, witty take on techno-tinged bass house as much as we do. With spins from A-Trak, Annie Mac, and Hot Chip's Joe Goddard, remixes for Food Music and Strictly Rhythm, and a U.S. tour culminating in their EDC Vegas appearance, they're bringing U.K. underground house to America's EDM masses with a vengeance. At Stage 7, Sunday, 9 to 10 p.m.

With support from Owsla, Smog, and Bassrush, L.A. producer Rusty Shackleford, AKA TrollPhace, is accelerating bass music's mutation into new, gnarlier forms of face-melting, postdubstep insanity. Shackleford's own term for his music is "tear out," so prepare to lose an organ or two when he attacks the decks. At the Bass Pod stage, Friday, 9 to 10:15 p.m.
Under his Wuki production alias, Denver's Kris Barman mixes booty bass, footwork, ghettotech, funky breaks, and more into a dirty mishmash of styles that can really blow up the dance floor. With releases on Owsla and Mad Decent and tracks and remixes featured in DJ Mag and Rolling Stone, the Mile High City producer's profile is only rising higher. At Stage 7, Saturday, midnight to 1 a.m.

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Andy Hermann is a regular film contributor to the Village Voice,LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, Houston Press and Dallas Observer.
Contact: Andy Hermann