Monday, September 3, 2012

Why I Love and Hate What the EDM Scene Has Become

This Labor Day weekend, I attended Electric Zoo, New York's electronic music festival on Randall's Island. Last year was my first year, and I went to see Tiësto, Rusko, Benny Benassi, Gareth Emery, MSTRKRFT and Felguk. Needless to say, after that, I couldn't wait for this year's Electric Zoo.
Electric Zoo 2011

This year, I bought Saturday and Sunday tickets along with a Sunday after party to see my DJ crushes Knife Party, Bingo Players, Rusko (again!), Tiësto (again again!), Hardwell, Porter Robinson and Dada Life. My love for electronic dance music began four years ago when I studied abroad in London and had my first taste of jungle and dubstep in the Brick Lane warehouse clubs and saw Justice at superclub matter at the O2 arena--I even titled one of my London Facebook albums "I'll admit it, I love house, electro and techno."
Justice at matter London, Oct 2008

In four short years, the love for EDM has hit mainstream America and as much as I'm thankful for the festivals and big names playing in the states--not all of the American EDM scene makes me jump with joy. NY Mag touched upon it early this year, calling the American EDM scene 'brostep' and how frat boy nature has sucked the soul out of the music.

It's true. While the DJs delivered mindblowing performances at Electric Zoo this year, the seemingly younger crowd (they look 17) in their highlighter "Party with Sluts" t-shirts, "Faded" hats and pacifiers slightly tarnished the festival experience for me. I have no issues with the rave scene that stands for 'Peace, Unity, Love and Respect', but good vibes were spoiled when a fight broke out during Tiësto, couples screaming at each other and messed up girls being carried out by medics. I start to worry that this is where EDM in America is headed--a scene that has the intelligence level and consideration of the Jersey Shore cast. Hopefully festival goers will remember why they bought tickets in the first place, which is for the music and not about how many studs or jewels you can fit on a bra.
Is there a way to save America's EDM culture? I don't know, maybe parents should know if their 14 year-old daughter is dressed like a hooker, has a beer gut, is doing drugs and wears a cap with the label "slut"? While I'm reminded about things that are wrong in the world, there is still so much that is right and positive about electronic dance music and its power to move and unite people. There's nothing like a jam-packed stage or tent of people just enjoying, dancing and loving every second of a DJ set. The energy, the sound and lights at Electric Zoo remind me why I fell in love with this genre of music in the first place.

Here are some pictures from this weekend:
Artists top to bottom: Dash Berlin, Bingo Players, DallasK, Bingo Players, Sander Van Doorn, Dada Life, Wolfgang Gartner, Adventure Club, Krewella, Knife Party, Tiësto, Skrillex, Porter Robinson + Zedd, Hardwell


  1. So true -- BROSTEP. It's weird how many people are into this stuff nowadays. At the end of the day it's all about the dancing though...innit?

    1. Yep, at the end of the day it's about dancing and feeling the music. And if bros want to dance, they should be able to!

  2. I've been dancing to electronic music in clubs since 1984. Much has changed and yet so much is still the same. Dedicated supporters of a scene seeing it spoiled and exploited by newcomers with zero investment is a recurring theme.

    On a separate note, it's good to see there are some innovators still bringing joy to the floors. For those of us who experienced Acid House in 1988 to more hardcore techno in 1991 to the Ibiza sounds soon after, the past 12+ years have been more of a retread/refinement of styles and grooves than any new kind of scene.

    Compare the changes in electronic dance music from 1984 to 1988 to 1992 to 1998 and you'll see an amazing transformation in sound and culture. Compare the best underground music from 1998 to 2012 and it's not as dramatic a difference.

    What is different is the size of the crowds in America. While we thought back then it had already gone (way too) popular, today's masses show just how huge edm can be.

    Keep on bringing the good vibes.

    1. It's nice to hear the perspective from someone who has been a fan of electronic music for so long. "Keep on bringing the good vibes." Yes!

  3. Im currently listening to Daft Punk-Around The.World <3 as i read your post and i Must say i wish i had raved when raves were completely underground, i was born in '91 my first actual taste of Electronic Music was Tiësto with Adagio For '05 i was in middle school at the time... being from the central valley in CA there wasnt much of an EDM scene... but i wanted to attend what i used to call rave parties haha friends would ask what is that i would say well djs play electronic music in a dark room with lights everywhere...i didnt mention anything about Extacy even though i was really eager to try haha... but i wish then i would have raved...i attended EDC LV '12 and all my friends talk about how the scene it says in the publication EDM is about the music.and.good vibes right? And now with this brostep it just seems different...i dont mean to blame any djs in particular but we all know that there are some who have caused this... is it good or bad glad that the scene is as big as it is because you get these huge festivals with the very best in talent and visuals big is it worth to lose plur? Idk just call me.the lost raver haha....i just wish tiësto went back to trance... from the #trancefamily... Peace, Love, Unity, Respect....

    Like Fellow Poster Said

    Keep on bringing the good vibes...

    1. Thanks for commenting. I think it's awesome that you grew to like the music at such a young age, and what concerns me is the middle schoolers now who are loving EDM may see the large 'brostep' festival scene as the norm. Time will only tell.