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Music festivals have a bigger electronic emphasis

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AUGUST 25, 2011

Time conflicts become the norm at any music festival, as those pesky event planners schedule their headliners for the same slots.

But as I sat on the fields of Golden Gate Park, an Outside Lands brochure in one hand and a pen in the other, something about this particular choice puzzled me more than usual. Crowds were already starting to swarm the stages, so I merely shrugged off my confusion and opted to bask in the blinding strobe lights of Girl Talk rather than fight it out in a crowd of Muse addicts. Come Sunday, however, I was stuck with a similar predicament — Arcade Fire vs. Deadmau5. And as I, again, found myself in a tightly packed mass of wriggling bodies as pounding bass attacked us from all directions, I wondered when electronic music struck such a chord in listeners and whether it has reached its peak.

House, dubstep, electropop — to some people, it all sounds the same, while others will probably rip you apart for throwing Kaskade and Magnetic Man into the same genre. Whatever your drug of choice, everything strips down to a machine that happens to have some nifty features. If you have the money to splurge on a fancy mixer and (advanced) programs, technology will do all the work for you. Start with a basic beat, mix in some drops, loop a bit of instrumentals and voila — foolproof formula for a surefire hit.

At least, this seems to be the case with most artists these days. With everyone from LMFAO to J.Lo dropping house beats behind their Top 40 hits, it’s easy to cast the electronic genre off as just another fad. Because c’mon, if even Britney can quickly pick up dubstep (or at least, she tries to), how much skill does it actually take?

Despite the banality of these homogeneous-sounding radio hits, there is still much to be appreciated when listening to the great masters. These true proponents of the genre have been around long before the craze picked up speed and have been honing their tunes for years. Sure, pumping Afrojack and Dada Life livens the mood at any party. But others such as Brazilian duo The Twelves can do wonders with their remixes, and industrial rockers The Glitch Mob have perfected a sound that is innovative yet instantly enjoyable.

Ravers and DJs, rejoice, for this is your time. “Womp womps” and four-to-the-floor beats are reaching the height of their popularity, and eager fans are eating up any and every semblance of these fast-paced numbers. Not only have electronic artists been quickly popping up at major festivals both national and international, but they also cater to the immense demand as they draw in some of the biggest crowds.

Giving in to the temptation of seizure-inducing light shows and shaking bass? The Bay Area fosters this desire, and the next semester looks especially promising. To kick off the season, the first annual IDentity festival at Mountain View’s Shoreline Theater on Labor Day weekend features acts such as Kaskade, Pretty Lights, Nero and Datsik. San Francisco’s premier dance party extravaganza, LovEvolution, returns on Sept. 24, boasting headliners such as Pendulum, The Glitch Mob and Moby. DJ extraordinaires Skrillex and Deadmau5 will be stopping by the area on Oct. 28 at the Warfield and Oct. 29 at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, respectively. And if you’re looking for lighter, more poppy beats, Treasure Island Day One has invited Empire of the Sun and Cut Copy to delight audiences with their spectacular displays. So pick a concert — or maybe just crash all of them — and bask in the glorious reign of the electronic.

Contact Cynthia Kang at 


AUGUST 25, 2011