Foam Wonderland Feat. Carnage at NRG Arena, 8/1/14
Photos by J. Tovar
Carnage NRG Arena August 1st, 2013
Foam Wonderland did not end with some giant, faux-orgasmic tidal wave of foam engulfing an excited crowd an hour and a half deep into a set from Carnage. Whether or not that was the plan we'll never know, because it ended half an hour early, the crowd being told that the cops were pulling the plug because there had been some "issues."
This was a bummer, of course, but not as big of a bummer as you might guess. That's not to say that people weren't upset, but it wasn't like there was about to be a foam-covered mob taking to the streets screaming "fuck the police."
After five and a half hours of dance music and foam explosions, it's hard to be super angry about anything. Especially when you're wearing a bathing suit and covered in foam.
Foam Wonderland was set up in one of the big rooms at the NRG Arena, not the arena proper; one assumes because having that many people covered in foam try to navigate stairs seems like a disaster waiting to happen. These giant rooms aren't built for music -- the echo is something fierce, and it feels like you're being beat around from all four walls -- but that's OK; while the music plays a big factor in these types of shows, it's only one part of the experience.
There's also the lights that blink too fast for your brain to comprehend at times and the often cheesy videos and that weird thing that happens when they blast CO2 -- things that happen at damn near every EDM event these days. The selling point here is the foam, and judging by the size of the crowd that paid the $50 to get in, people just love the stuff.
There's no deeper meaning here, no greater truth to be found. Foam is fun. Dancing is fun. Dance music is fun. Spending time with your friends is fun. Simple math tells us that doing all of those at the same time is even more fun, provided you don't mind a damp ride home on an oddly cool Texas summer night.
Carnage is a perfect match for this type of environment, a guy that radiates fun and plays tracks that keep the crowd paying attention even when their other senses are being overwhelmed. He wasn't as chatty as he has been in past performances, but he has a natural charisma that sets him apart from most DJs. A lot of DJs make good music, a lot of DJs have a signature sound, but more DJs need personality.
Or perhaps that's just another outdated idea comes from the world of pop and rock.
Story continues on the next page.
A lot of people hate the idea of "going to see someone play music from a laptop."; it's one of the great philosophical battles of modern music. They just don't understand why anyone would enjoy standing in the dark with a bunch of strangers letting bass shake their guts and watching flashing lights without a real instrument in sight.
Which is fine, of course. Music is so deeply personal that it's no surprise that people go to shows looking for different experiences, and one person's Foam Wonderland could be someone else's Foam Nightmare. When you consider the darkness, the flashing lights, the screaming and the odd outfits, a foam party and a haunted house really aren't that different, although there is a lot more peace and love at a foam party.
And bathing suits, of course.
Personal Bias: It's rare that I feel like I'm overdressed wearing shorts and a T-shirt, but compared to the rest of the crowd my roommate and I totally looked like we were someone's parents rather than dance-music fans.
The Crowd: Young. Hyper. Dressed like they walked in from the beach.
Overheard In the Crowd: "I thought these were pockets but they're not pockets." I would love to know what the context for that was.
Random Notebook Dump: There is nothing quite as sad and funny as someone covered in foam asking their friend to help them clean their face off only to be handed a foam-covered towel. When it foams, it pours.
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.