For Crimes Against the Dancefloor, 5 DJs Enter EDM Kangaroo Court
Like any style of music with more than 15 fans, EDM has its artists that people love to hate. You don't get to a million followers on Twitter without gathering a few haters along the way, and no matter how many fans you have, it seems like the minority is always more vocal.
That's not to say these opposing voices are wrong. In fact, some of them make very good points.
Today we look at five of our favorite EDM acts, the cases against them, and the punishments they should receive, if this were an actual court of law. Please rise -- kangaroo court is now in session.
The Charge: Audio Terrorism
For some fans of progressive house, Avicii's "Levels" is kind of like D4L's "Laffy Taffy": Its popularity is inexplicable and frustrating.
What's fascinating about the song is that although I know it's popular, I've never seen a DJ drop it in their set. Oh, I've seen it go over like gangbusters at the Warped Tour and before Nicki Minaj, but during all the hours I've spent at Stereo Live or the various fests I've covered, I didn't hear it once.
Do the DJs know something we don't? When asked for comment, Zedd summed up the song as "really funny." So... maybe they do.
Punishment: Avicii is to spin a two-hour set made up exclusively of "Levels" remixes downloaded from Soundcloud so he can think about what he's done.
The Charge: Corruption of a Genre
There are those who will tell you that before Skrillex came along dubstep was a diverse genre full of potential. Leave it to an American to amp up the aggression and ruin a good thing.
Now it's true that it's not his fault that other people have tried aping his style for fun and profit. It's also not his fault that wobble bass and more aggressive sounds have leaked in to other genres.
That said, he is primarily responsible for what most people assume all dubstep sounds like. Once you're literally in a Disney movie, the genie ain't going back in the bottle. The wubs are here to stay.
Punishment: Must produce one EP made up of ambient tracks using only found sounds and analog synths.
3. Steve Aoki
The Charge: Impersonating A DJ, Second Degree
For most DJs, rocking a crowd means more than just playing songs that people want to hear. Music may be at the core of the equation, but having a good time may also mean flashing lights, CO2 blasts, and champagne showers.
When Aoki rolls into town, he's not just a guy with some MP3s and a pair of headphones. For him, sometimes putting on a show means surfing the crowd in an inflatable raft. Sometimes it means jumping off a balcony. Other times it means doing something involving a trampoline.
Do those things take away from a show? The crowds don't seem to mind, but it does make it easier for EDM detractors to make a case for the genre as mindless party music.
Punishment: Keep at least one foot on the ground at all times for a minimum of three months.
2. Steve Angello
The Charge: Impersonating a DJ, First Degree
No man in EDM has suffered as much from one single YouTube upload as Angello has. The above video, shot at a festival known as Dance Valley, made the rounds last year and was used by many as the definitive proof that Angello does nothing more live than hit play and then pretend to do stuff with all those buttons in front of him.
To his credit Angello admits that from time to time, such as at Dance Valley, the finale of his set is premixed because it has to be synced up with a fireworks display. The argument is that it could hurt the show if he didn't switch over to the prerecorded mix.
Is premixing a fail, a foul, or just good for business? That's a long discussion for another day. What can't be denied is that it happens.
Punishment: Henceforth, he must stand at the edge of the stage and juggle any time he's not going to be mixing for longer than five minutes.
The Charges: Disorderly Conduct, Public Nuisance
Maybe you heard about the last time Rusko graced our fair city. It gave rise to one of our favorite new slogans, used to describe the moment an artist complains about the sound at his show: "Going Rusko."
A few months later, Rusko made a few more headlines when he put out some "controversial" tweets about Hurricane Sandy, controversial in this case meaning "boneheaded" and "insensitive," Needless to say some people were upset by his comments. There was an unsuccessful attempt to turn "#unfollowrusko" into a trending topic.
Rusko returns to Houston Friday night at Warehouse Live, and whether the show is amazing or a hot mess we imagine that the kids are still going to come out, get loud, and dance all night without a thought of tantrums or tweets.
Punishment: Must take his sound engineer out to dinner before any Houston or New York shows.
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