The Best & Worst of Something Wicked 2014

A-Trak
A-Trak
Photo by Marco Torres

THE BEST

A-TRAK If you don't follow the EDM blogosphere, you may have missed the debate about real DJing that A-Trak started a few months back. It's an interesting discussion, because it seems like the people who care the most are those not inclined to enjoy your typical "button-pushing" DJ set anyway. Still, it is interesting to see scratching come into play in a semi-meaningful way in an electronic-music set.

Those scratches really aren't that sonically removed from the squelches and bleeps that you get in a lot of tracks these days. It was also cool to hear one of the Duck Sauce guys drop "NRG," because that song is super-fun. CORY GARCIA

The Best & Worst of Something Wicked 2014
Photo by Jack Gorman

BIXEL BOYS Bixel Boys' late-afternoon set had the crowd pumped with bouncy, high-energy drops and progressive sound. The experimental DJs from L.A. included just about everything in their performance -- deep house, techno, R&B vocals, occasional heavy drops. Their set included fresh takes on Flux Pavillion's "I Can't Stop" and was highlighted with "Close to You (Deep Edit)," which is a sort of mash-up of Disclosure's "Latch." These guys are definitely ones to watch. JACK GORMAN

The Best & Worst of Something Wicked 2014
Photo by Jack Gorman

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BORGORE Borgore has never really worked for me. I'm one of those who would, if asked, accuse him of trying too hard. But as part of a larger festival atmosphere, where the priority is trying to keep the good times going instead of highlighting the "Borgore experience," I found him to be quite enjoyable.

Rather than make it an over the top spectacle, it was simply solid song after solid song. I don't know that I'd want to see him headline again, but he'd be a welcome addition to any festival. CORY GARCIA

BEST COSTUMES: Reno 911; Raver Maids Not a common rave ensemble, the Reno 911 costume was a nice surprise at this year. Surprisingly, as the weekend rolled on, quite a few of these could be spotted around the grounds.

Alternatively, everyone knows that rave fashion generally involves an extremely small amount of fabric for many female festgoers, but creativity can still shine through a pair of small underwear. It was nice to see some of these chicks walking around on land. SELENA DIERINGER

The Best & Worst of Something Wicked 2014
Photo by Marco Torres

CASH CASH The lesson here is that Cash Cash are legit party-rockers. I had my doubts; "Take Me Home" is a perfectly acceptable song, but I had been curious if they were a group I really needed to pay attention to or just some guys who got lucky on a song. They left me pretty impressed.

Sure, they're the type who think the P in PLUR stands for party, but there's room enough in the world for party music. Most inspired moment of the set goes to playing Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" into Tove Lo's "Habits (Stay High)," which is such a fun idea I'm surprised I haven't already heard it beaten to death. CORY GARCIA

IN-HOUSE ENTERTAINERS It takes some serious balls to wear stilts at a festival, let alone directly through the craziness of a main stage's dance pit. Something Wicked had several stilted performers walking through the fest on both days, accompanied by a crew of lookalike ghoul girls. Super wicked. SELENA DIERINGER

The Best & Worst of Something Wicked 2014

CEDRIC GERVAIS The international DJ/producer came out to his classic introduction that is a bitch's brew of progressive beats, lyrics from Lana Del Rey's "Summertime Sadness" and a countdown from the robotic voice heard in his hit, "Molly." Gervais made the most of his time on the main stage, heating the crowd up for headliners Martin Garrix and Kaskade in a straightforward performance enhanced with some pyrotechnics and CO2.

However, Gervais has been doing this for quite some time, and knew how to keep the crowd dancing for his entire set. Del Rey seems to be his moneymaker, as one of the highlights of his set was the official remix of "Young & Beautiful" that included portions of the song's Great Gatsby-inspired video emanating from the huge side displays of the stage. JACK GORMAN

The Best & Worst of Something Wicked 2014
Photo by Marco Torres

KASKADE I'm gonna lay it on the line here and let the hate mail pour in: I've never been a huge fan of Kaskade. Sure, he's a formidable DJ who makes fun music, but don't most decent DJs? I saw him at a different fest this summer, andit was aiiiight. Not mind-blowing, not bad. Just aight.

Well, here I am eating crow: This set was dope. His was not by any stretch one of the sets I was most looking forward to seeing, but Kaskade performed a particularly diverse balance of songs that amped the crowd up and then settled them in comfortably. The energy was on point and, in sum, this was the absolute perfect way to close out Something Wicked, fireworks and all. This set definitely made me a believer. SELENA DIERINGER

KILL PARIS My pick for the set of the weekend. Compared to some of the acts on the Bass Crypt stage, this was a much more laid-back affair. That's not to say that it was chill, just that it wasn't one of those hyperagressive, punch-you-in-the-face with-bass-repeatedly things. Which is a nice change of pace sometimes.

Kudos to KP for having such a diverse range of tastes, dropping in everything from Wu-Tang to Porter Robinson to Wild Cherry to Bill Nye the Science Guy. If he released a mix of this set online, I would listen to it in my car at least once a week. Well played, Kill Paris. Well played. CORY GARCIA

The Best & Worst of Something Wicked 2014
Photo by Jack Gorman

LIQUID TODD Going on early is one of the most difficult jobs to have at a festival, especially an EDM festival. About 15 fans were down front at the Mystic Meadows stage as DJ Liquid Todd's set began, but they came out dancing strong, kicking up the dust. They were rewarded with one of the best sets of the weekend, as the Sirius XM DJ's playful banter and mischievous smirks kept the crowd guessing as to what he had up his sleeves.

The crowd steadily swelled to the hundreds as more festivalgoers arrived, and many more enjoyed the tracks under the trees on the fringe of the stage while seeking refuge from the heat. Despite the early set time and elevated temperatures, Todd proved that "house time is anytime, and anytime is house time." JACK GORMAN

 

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The Best & Worst of Something Wicked 2014
Photo by Jack Gorman

ZEDS DEAD Sometimes a DJ knows you better than you know yourself. I didn't realize how badly I needed to hear The Prodigy's "Breathe," but then Zeds Dead dropped their remix into the set and I realized they were doing the Lord's work. Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, they tossed in some Hendrix in to the set, which was a first, but it makes sense; "'Scuse me while I kiss the sky" is one of those things that transcends genres.

On the whole, the best set I saw on Saturday, one that managed to keep topping itself every few minutes, which is all you can really ask for. CORY GARCIA

The Best & Worst of Something Wicked 2014
Photo by Jack Gorman

THE WORST

BORGORE Donnie Disco Presents and Nightculture put together an all-around fantastic festival, so it's difficult to find something negative about the weekend; However, Borgore's set was the most disappointing. It sucks, because I have been a big fan of his music for quite some time, but here he seemed to be flat with his lyrics and not fully engaged with the crowd. It is worth noting that this was my fourth time seeing Borgore, and the frustration may come from knowing what he has delivered in the past. JACK GORMAN

STROBE LIGHT OVERKILL Are constant strobes still really a necessity? Strobe overkill impacted the greatness of Deorro's otherwise amazing set, and Bro Safari was even worse: constant flashing for an entire track?? The crowd was lucky to walk away without a migraine or a seizure.

Strobes have had their time to shine, no pun intended. It's time to let that shit lie. The occasional long-held flash is great; illuminating the crowd and getting everyone pumped. But constant flashing only distracts from the otherwise great lighting effects, not to mention the music. SELENA DIERINGER

WORST COSTUMES: Ebola patients; ISIS members (tie) Topical costumes can be tongue-in-cheek and amusing. These two were neither; people were either trying too hard or not trying hard enough. Either way, FAIL. SELENA DIERINGER

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