Saturday: Identity Festival At The Woodlands Pavilion

To see lots of pics of bikini-clad girls and neon-wearing dudes, check out our slideshow of the ID Fest.

Identity Festival feat. Steve Aoki, Rusko, Pretty Lights, Disco Biscuits, Le Castle Vania & DJ Shadow Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion August 27, 2011

Saturday's Identity Festival was Aftermath's first exposure to popular electronic music in over a decade, since we gave up the ghost when we discovered The Clash and punk rock. We left rave culture and electro beats behind for something we saw as more "real," before the big letdown that nothing is real anyway.

After leaving Identity, the biggest surprise for us was how much more curious we were about dubstep and the new sounds currently making the electronic youth movement spin. Aftermath wasn't at all surprised about how detached we felt from the crowd or the music, though.

With the crowd roughly a decade younger than us, for the most part, we sat on the sidelines, bewildered and amused, but not at all disgusted or turned off. If anything, we just wanted to know how long we had been ignoring this next wave of electronica.

The festival's maiden voyage was very reminiscent of the all-day events we had previously seen at the Pavilion. Your Buzzfests and whatnot are not that far off from IDF, with three scattered stages, adolescents milling around ruling the day, and copious amounts of attitude and alcohol.

It was orderly in structure, not at all the packed clusterfuck full of drugged-out burners we had (sadly) hoped for. Music is the real drug, or some shit like that.

Saturday was also the hottest day of the year as the weather kept on reminding us, topping out at least 110 degrees when Aftermath set foot on the grounds around 5 p.m. The heat probably deterred a good amount of the crowd, old and young, from making it out, and rightfully so, but by the time the sun came down and headliners Pretty Lights, Steve Aoki and Rusko went on, plenty of new faces began to appear.

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Our first find of the day was Le Castle Vania, Dylan Eiland's five-year-old dance project, shortly after arriving. He was playing on the second, Dim Mak stage. It was hella more intimate, obviously, than the stuff going on at the main stage, where the venue's security handlers were trying to in vain to keep dancing kids inside the aisles. Like herding puppies.

What was strange about the crowd as a whole was how young everyone was. We would like to think we are professional musical sociologists (LOL), but we couldn't place where fur leggings, neon, and this post-rave stuff had come from. We stood next to local DJ and good friend Eric "Ceeplus" Castillo, and we were both shocked and excited in equal turns.

Was it Girl Talk, parents shoving Adderall into their kids' heads and installing a drug lust, or just plain ol' rebelling from mainstream rock culture and materialistic hip-hop and rap? Say what you will about bleep-bleep-bloop-shronk, but no one seemed to be worried about money or crass individualism. It was pretty communal, actually.

Disco Biscuits was a decent soundtrack for our early-evening creepy, lonely laze-about down an aisle near the main stage, with the livetronica act mixing jammy passages with samples and ambient noise.

Meanwhile, Steve Aoki's team had installed ten-foot tall letters and confetti cannons onto the stage ahead of his set, which ended up being a big-beated, loud and cartoonish mix of indie-infused house. The DJ took break to come down from his riser every few tracks to spray champagne on the first few rows of mangled, sweaty kids as well.

As time came near for Rusko to appear, the crowds began filling into the pavilion. The English dubstep hero's set came as the sun left the sky, and had way more personality going for it than we had imagined from just listening to his stuff in the car. Dubstep done right, as far as dubstep goes, and it's also kinda witchy.

Pretty Lights' set after Rusko was a revelation, melding snatches of jazz, soul, grunge and blues into what is usually a cold and detached genre. His sampling isn't goofy or frat-baiting in the least, and he stitches them to invoke grander emotional responses. A musical history lesson you can shake a glow-stick to.

Rounding out our Saturday night was DJ Shadow on the Dim Mak stage, set up inside a sphere to a smallish crowd. When we ourselves were experimenting with electronic music in junior high and high school, Shadow's work blew our minds. And Saturday, in a group of knob-twirlers and computer-assisted cacophony, his work with mixers and turntables felt downright like classic rock.

Personal Bias: Above all, we like experiencing musical movements we haven't bathed in before. This time out, we felt a little more enriched for taking a chance on a festival that had all the markings of being completely annoying and banal. At least now we could pick out dubstep in a lineup. Though we did get bored in places, it was only because we were rolling solo for the most part.

The Crowd: Very, very young. Not fetal, but still at least in high school or college. Suburban? You bet. There was a big frat contingent, but nothing to set your douche-detector off, and every was half-clothed all day. But remember, this is party-ready stuff, so you have to make some concessions.

Overheard In the Crowd: "Best part about late summer is that all the girls who got new boobs as graduation gifts are healed up and ready to party."

Random Notebook Dump: Be sure to read this primer on the new age of electronica from our North Texas sister blog, DC 9 At Night. It helped us get through Saturday, and comes in handy as a field guide to a style of music often overshadowed by extracurriculars (drugs).

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