While Identity Fest, the first-ever all-electronic touring festival, had lots of great names on the bill, it was the chance to see DJ Shadow again that sealed the deal for me. It's admittedly been a couple years since I was in the electronic music scene, but DJ Shadow's seminal album, Endtroducing, will always hold a place in my heart. I was also excited to see Rusko again and Le Castle Vania for the first time, so I took the day off of work (being a grown-up is hard), packed a backpack and headed out to the *I refuse to say the name* Amphitheater. [Text by Marci, photos by Chris.]
2 p.m.: Our first stop was the main stage to see Le Castle Vania. There's a lot of DJ's out there remixing songs, but his are some of the most original I've heard recently and his set was a great start to the day. However, it was also miserably hot and humid, and I also wanted to catch Holy Ghost, so we headed off to find the Dim Mak stage.
2:45 p.m.: The festival was scheduled to last until 11 p.m. at an outdoor venue, so when security confiscated my spray bottle of suntan lotion at the entrance, I was feeling a bit uneasy. However, when I followed the signs to the Dim Mak stage, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was inside the Expo hall. With air conditioning. The acts on this stage became instantly more appealing, and we arrived to at the stage just in time to catch the last couple songs from Hercules and Love Affair. I felt like I was watching the love child of Miss Jay and Lafayette sing nu-disco.
3 p.m.: Holy Ghost features six pretty boys with soul. I only got to catch about 15 minutes of their set, but they did a great job of melding live vocals and drums with electronic sampling and beats.
3:15 p.m.: I met with Scott Kirkland and Ken Jordan of the Crystal Method and asked them about music, along with other nerdy things.
4 p.m.: When we got dropped back off at Dim Mak, Datsik was on the stage throwing it down. The venue was surprisingly full, especially considering it was a Wednesday and still early enough to get an early bird ticket discount. Muppet/ballerina hybrids with glowing toys abounded.
5:15 p.m.: By the time The Crystal Method hit the stage, the place was pretty full. I imagine this had to do with their iconic status in electronic music, but some of it was also probably due to the ice-cold AC. Either way, everyone was in for a hell of a show. Whereas most of the DJ's had been up on pedestals, high over and far back from the crowd, TCM was at the front of the stage and interacted with the audience pretty much the whole time, flinging out "I Heart Boobies" bracelets and taking pictures of the crowd. Scott also took their custom-designed Pioneer CDJ — one part turntable, one part key-tar — out from behind the decks and played it at the front of the stage in true rock star style.
6:20 p.m.: It apparently rained while we were watching TCM and we walked out of the Expo hall to a cool breeze. I knew that packing ponchos would mean I wouldn't actually end up in the rain. As we walked back to the main stage I could hear WUBWUBWUBWUB echoing across the fairgrounds and knew that Rusko was on. We got to the stage and there he was, his mop of hair flopping around as he bounced and pointed and pumped his arms. Always in motion, he's fun as hell to watch and when he mixed in a sped up version of his single "Everyday," people actually started crowd surfing and flinging water from their water bottles.
7:50 p.m.: After about 45 minutes spent setting up a glowing LED cityscape, Pretty Lights hit the decks and his staging lived up to his name. It would have been more impressive if it had been darker, but he didn't exactly have control of that since he was on the main stage. I had a lot of people tell me that I needed to catch him live, but I wasn't really that impressed. About 15 minutes into his set, they opened up the pit to everyone who wanted to get in, and this helped the vibe a lot. However, it was still more low key than I prefer, and it was especially more low key than I needed to keep me sitting in the August heat.
8:15 p.m.: All day long, my boyfriend/photographer Chris had been frustrated by how many DJ's were up on platforms, which made it almost impossible to get pictures from the photo pits. Well, Steve Aoki took it to the next level. He was basically up on a scaffolding, and while he climbed and rant/chanted at the crowd it started to feel like a rally for Supreme Leader Aoki. At one point he actually stopped the music to make sure the videographer was paying attention and then he launched into "Misfits," his new song with Travis Barker, during which he scream/sang and reached into the frenzied audience to grasp waving hands. Then the music stopped again. Then he went into the next song. Which struck me as kind of weird for a DJ.
9:45 p.m.: It was finally time for DJ Shadow and he started off by stepping up to the front of the stage and discussing his hip hop upbringing, and how this was his first-ever show in Florida. He then walked around to the back of his "pod" and climbed in, spending the first half hour of his set hidden inside, while the crowd watched projections on the outside of the pod. The first time the bass dropped, I thought it was going to shake the earplugs out of my ears and a few notes later, I noticed confetti falling — and realized DJ Shadow was shaking confettie from Steve Aoki's set off of the tops of the rafters. There was hip hop, drum and bass, scratching...it was perfect. A mere 15 years after I fell in love with Endtroducing, I finally got to see the man in person, and it was worth the wait.