Day Of the Dead 2014 Trips The Light Fantastic
November 11, 2014 at 10:39 AM (PT)
HALLOWEEN was celebrated for a couple extra days at HARD EVENTS' annual DAY OF THE DEAD fest, which was held at THE FAIRPLEX in POMONA, CA on NOV. 1st-2nd. The light and sound extravaganza attracted 40,000 fans each night, many of whom were colorfully if not outrageously attired. As arresting as the music and overall scene was, probably the most compelling story of DAY OF THE DEAD was in how this entire scene continues to prosper in a parallel universe outside of the traditional music and radio business
Each night, approximately 50 acts performed on one of five stages that featured crystalline, albeit booming, sound with incredible state-of-the-art lighting and staging. The overall impact made you feel like you were a part of a larger-than-life video game. Boasting almost 500 acres that annually house the L.A. COUNTY FAIR, the FAIRPLAX was a perfect site for the fest, offering plenty of amenities and elbow room -- unless, of course, you were among the multi-thousand throng on the infield of the racetrack where the main stage was. Yet there was more than enough room for three outdoor stages, as well as two stages housed in pavilions to create a warehouse rave ambience.
Highlights? Wherever you were could've been a highlight. CALVIN HARRIS, the lone artist whose work has attracted serious mainstream radio play, expertly entertained the largest audience, while DEADMAU5's collaboration with ERIC PRYDZ offered moodier, edgier techno. Australian duo KNIFE PARTY tore through some electronic dubstep, while mystery man ZHU took his beats into a spacier realm. HARD Founder GARY RICHARDS performed as DESTRUCTO, throwing some funk into his mixes. House and industrial sounds emanated from the pavilions throughout the day and night. ZEDD also exhibited pop sensibilities, as the thousands in attendance recited the lyrics to the few piped-in vocals word-for-word. Fellow EDM artist DILLON FRANCIS made a surprise appearance to rev things up even more.
Yet what's most striking about this entire scene is that it continues to break its own stars largely without the resources of music and radio industries. KNIFE PARTY headlined Day One on the strength of two EPs and a handful of singles -- none of which made radio playlists. Their debut album isn't even out until THANKSGIVING. ZHU essentially came out of nowhere, anonymously releasing a mashup of OUTKAST songs last FEBRUARY, which generated word-of-mouth and blog buzz. Since then, he has released just one EP, with its one single release making the U.K.charts. While many of the headliners made their bones producing or working with the likes of LADY GAGA, RIHANNA and ARIANA GRANDE, just as many performers have built a following by releasing their music on SOUNDCLOUD or YOUTUBE channels. What's more, as heard time and time again over the two days, these artists often remix and re-work each others' efforts, making the scene even more cohesive.
It's an interesting conundrum: EDM continues to make millionaires out of producers and DJs, yet radio and labels have yet to fully make their popularity work for them. Meanwhile, what may come off to casual observers as variations of high-tech disco has become a music and lifestyle a younger generation can call its own.