These days you find a lot of websites posting articles about how the electronic scene is dying, then weeks later about how the electronic scene is thriving, then artists step in and assert their opinions (bias much?), and it stirs up a lot of passion from the bro’s and broette’s who love to get down to some gnar EDM and get all wiggly worm at a festival and sweat on by strangers (now bff’s) to a crazy LED light show that should induce epileptic seizures as any chance of hearing by the age of 65 slowly fades away..and man was that fun for a little bit!! As technological innovations for DJ’s become stagnant, though, the limits for what a live show has to offer has ultimately reached its peak. The stages can get bigger and more money spent towards production, but as I stand 300,000 people deep staring at a stage three football fields wide as Hardwell and Avicii take shelter in a massive owl, I start to have a hard time…getting off.
When I reflect on my past year in the music industry and the shows I’ve been to, only a handful of sets stand out to me as proper. DJ’s now have access to play in any venue they see fit, and these world famous venues that were once rocked by some of the biggest bands in the world now lay host to a DJ and his laptop. I’ve kept an open mind in my electronic endeavors and I love this scene just as much as the next person, but to what extent has DJ culture reached too far? I’m bored, plain and simple, my attention can’t be kept longer than hearing my favorite DJ drop my favorite track of theirs and then everything else starts to feel the same. Bass patches with no variation rip my ears to shreds, improper systems cranking out distorted sound mutilate the most precious part of a performance, and the rush to open up shop and capitalize on the movement has spread the industry thin.
It’s not that I think the electronic movement is over, I just think it needs a revolution. I’ve been to nearly every festival on the west coast in the last year and the sets that will live forever in my memory are those by artists who had the balls to grab an instrument and get you there. Where is there? “There” is that connection that another human shares with an instrument the moment they pick it up with their hands. The moment they use the physical vessel known as their body to recreate for you a sound that you used to bump on your laptop, phone, car speakers, wherever, it becomes a totally different user experience. The recreation of sound allows you to connect with a set in ways that the replaying of a sound cannot offer. I’ve seen Touch Sensitive hop on top of his decks with a bass guitar strapped over his shoulder and lay down a fatter bass line than any bass patch prior. Gramatik had a live guitarist accompany his DJ set for an hour and a half improvising the jazziest sexiest vibes that set the crowd off. It’s not that a DJ set sucks…it’s that live music is that much better.
Rolling Stone didn’t publish that video to insult the electronic industry, they shared it to help you hold yourself to a higher standard for what you have come to expect from a performance. They want you to feel that rush of a live act, to feel that connection to a show knowing that no one else will ever hear those sounds the way you did ever again. DJ’s can (and have) played the same set for two different shows, and I’m not going to name names but I have experienced said act myself and it’s utterly insulting…They don’t even respect a crowd enough to give you something different, maybe they can’t? I don’t know I’m sure they are good people but what a shame we can’t even even get an original re-playing of sounds.
To end this on a positive note, it’s pretty awesome to see bands making it onto electronic festival bills. The Bloody Beetroots brought the house down last weekend at Day Of The Dead, Rudimental at HARD Summer, and there will always be outlets to experience live music. The electronic movement will never die but it will change, as is the cyclical nature of the industry as a whole. You look at a lot of acts from Australia right now and they are all packing live instruments in their setups, which by the way still counts as an electronic show. Every sound has a place and time, DJ’s sometimes get so wrapped up in the explosion of EDM that sometimes the sound is not in the right place. Packed theaters with shirtless sweaty dudes jumping on top of you and spilling their drinks on your back is not the way I like to enjoy a show in a well respected venue (keep that shit for festivals). So keep your eyes peeled as this transformation takes over and be excited for what the future of the industry has to offer, because it can only get better from here.