Identity Festival feat. Eric Prydz, Nero, Porter Robinson, Le Castle Vania, Eva Simons & Adrian Lux Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion August 11, 2012
With dance music's increasing popularity stateside it comes as no surprise that someone would get a bunch of DJs to hit the road together playing amphitheaters across the country. Last year's inaugural trek of the IDentity Festival was so successful that putting it on again this year was a no-brainer.
Once again the tour swung through Houston hitting the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, bringing in kids in funny outfits from across the area to rage outdoors and perhaps confuse a mounted police officer or two.
After successful trips to both Summer Fest and the Warped Tour this summer we decided that another festival wouldn't be our doom. After all, it's not every weekend you get the chance to see some of EDM's finest out of Stereo Live and in the harsh light of day.
Adrian Lux was not the first performer to hit the stage Saturday afternoon but it wasn't until he started his 4 p.m. set that the show felt like it truly started. For the first time, the crowd started really responding to the music, making noise and moving their bodies. Apparently you can rage while the sun is out.
As for the set Lux was solid aside from one abrupt transition, which he apologized for. If the goal was getting the crowd primed for the rest of the day, then mission accomplished.
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While she may not be a name in mainstream music yet, in the land of dance Eva Simons is pretty cool. With some solid tracks to her name and a handful of featured appearances with some of the genre's biggest names Simons has managed to boil down the whole of her career to a furious 20-minute set. "Take Over Control" provided the first big sing-along of the day, and Simons did a good job of giving the crowd the right amount of a good thing.
Here's what we like about Le Castle Vania: He's the type of guy that takes a pumped-up version of Smashing Pumpkins' "Zero" and smashes it straight in to Knife Party's "Internet Friends". It's electric and awesome and we wanted more of that outside-the-box thinking.
That said, we were left wondering why the guy seemed to have a pair of headphones around his neck he never seemed to use.
The late-afternoon crowds at the second stage may have been smaller, but that didn't mean they were lacking in energy. The crowd assembled to watch LCV danced just as hard as the partiers over in the pavilion, with the added benefit of having more room to spread out.
It felt like it was only yesterday that we saw Porter Robinson, and in the weeks since that show little has changed. Other than the lack of 8-bit graphics that defined the Language Tour the show was incredibly similar to his Stereo Live performance, just shorter. That doesn't change the fact that at age 20 he's sickingly good at what he does, it just means we'd like a little more time between shows to let the heart grow a bit fonder.
Here's how big a deal Eric Prydz performing on American soil is: Cable channel Fuse paid to run a "Welcome Back Eric" spot before he hit the stage.
So why wasn't it a bigger deal?
By the time his excellent remix of "Personal Jesus" came to a close, a few things were apparent, the most obvious being that the main-stage crowd had gotten noticeably smaller. It didn't help things that the sound from Nero's set at the second stage was bleeding through in the background.
It's a shame because what Prydz was mixing was incredible. After a six-hour assault of in-your-face party music it was refreshing to listen to someone unafraid to let his songs come together slowly and breathe. The first 30 minutes of his set were beautiful, at times emotive, and the best thing we heard all day.
Of course that meant we had to go see what we were missing at the other stage.
The short answer is "bass." Rounding the corner to walk to the second stage resulted in what felt like walking in to a wall of low-end noise. We didn't even realize you could have that much bass outside.
Buried underneath it we could hear what sounded like Nero's big single "Promises," but by the time we got close enough to make out the finer points of their sound they were on to the next track.
Billed as a "DJ set" by the group, the performance was heavy on the aggressive American dubstep sound mixed with a solid number of hip-hop jams. In the right hands a dubstep version of G.O.O.D. Music's "Mercy" is pretty damn enjoyable, even after being on your feet for over seven hours.
All those people who disappear from the main stage when Prydz showed up? They formed a giant undulating mass moving in front of the second stage. Even after doing their thing all day these kids still had enough gas in the tank to keep the party going.
We wouldn't be surprised if those same kids kept dancing all the way until next year's IDentity Festival.
Personal Bias: I keep two buttons of my Sirius radio set to EDM stations, although I'm more Chill than BPM.
The Crowd: Colorfully dressed, incredibly sweaty, and impossibly young.
Overheard In The Crowd: "Shut up Sailor Moon!" said the man not enjoying Kerli's opening performance.
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Random Notebook Dump: Want to know what happens when you sit through eight hours of near continuous electronic music? You go home and dream about it. At least in my dreams I am cool, both literally and metaphorically.
See more photos on the next page.