Last Friday and Saturday I headed down to Mountain View, CA’s Shoreline Amphitheater for I Love This City music festival. Here’s how it went…
Let’s start with a local favorite, shall we? I didn’t get to see duo’s first live set of the day, but I did catch them filling in for Chuckie who had missed his flight. Last time I saw Tenderlions play was at the tiny 330 Ritch in San Francisco. While they kept the crowd of a hundred some odd sweaty hipsters dancing, it remained an open question whether they could rock the mainstage at a giant festival. Well, they did. These guys took the stage with zero prep, popped in some CDs and demanded the several thousand people in front of them dance. It may be relevant to emphasize the fact that these people were semi-angry bros expecting to be watching Chuckie. Serious props to those guys for pulling a great set out of their asses. Go SF!
I’ve been waiting to see Duck Sauce for a long time. For those not in the know, Duck Sauce is Armand Van Helden and A-Trak, two phenomenal DJs, neither of whom I’ve seen before. Seeing the two of them playing together was more than just an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone (as much as I enjoy killing birds with stones). Armand and A-Trak are two different characters on stage, but together they combine to give a performance that is purely Duck Sauce. Duck Sauce live isn’t about the technical wizardry of a purely A-trak or purely Armand set — not to say that the technical skill wasn’t there. A Duck Sauce set is purely about summer fun. The two of them on stage were smiling constantly. Perhaps it’s obvious, but you can’t really take yourselves too seriously if you’re performing in front of a multi-story inflatable duck. Throughout the set I got a feeling that the crowd enjoyed the music, but the timing was off. The crowd was there to fistbump and grind on bitches, neither of which are activities fully facilitated by disco.
Last time I saw Sebastian Ingrosso play a was earlier this year in Chicago. Just like that first time I saw him, I was amazed how made everyone’s favorite EDM jams that we’ve heard too many times fun and exciting. If you visualized electronic dance music as spectrum from the softest vocal trance to the most painful deathstep, Ingrosso falls neatly in the middle. Ingrosso’s sound is mainstream EDM, but he spins it well and we all have good fun. Unfortunately is is the only third of the Mafia trio I’ve seen. Looking forward to catching the rest and see how they stack up against each other.
Afrojack was my favorite set at last years Electric Daisy Carnival, and for good reason. This guy is mixing two to four tracks constantly through his stage him. Afrojack keeps the energy high, and the excitement in the air. Between being one of the few EDM artists also in iTunes top 40 and the whole Paris Hilton oreal coming to light this guy has been being talked about for all the wrong reasons. Festival tunes have been becoming, like the majority of EDM as a whole, more and more heavy. Afrojack keeps his sounds big without going heavy, this creates high energy, yet feel good sounds. I’m anxiously awaiting his summer resales to see what the next festival anthem will be.
You’re either a Holy Fuck fan or you’re a normal well-adjusted person. I personally fit into the first category so feel free to ignore my opinion in this section (or anywhere else in the article really). Seriously if you had never heard of Holy Fuck before reading this did you expect me to tell you they are a perfectly average Brit-pop band that is often featured on TRL? No, you didn’t. The band is weird as fuck just as you would assume. I know I just said that Harvard Bass was an odd pick for this festival’s lineup, but christ on a bike, Holy Fuck did not belong on this lineup. The crowd of 25 people confused and too fried to look at the lights at Laidback Luke would agree that this was not Holy Fuck’s festival. Holy Fuck are a British live electronic band. They are mostly known for using things that should not be instruments as instruments. And no this doesn’t mean they have a bunch of laptops. Unfortunately all I could make out from where I was standing was some kind of tape machine film reel thing. One of the guys would pull on it to make just absurd noises. I’ve been listening to Holy Fuck for years, but until I saw them live I never thought of their sound as anything like house. Perhaps it was because of all the traditional EDM acts playing around them, but I felt like their agressive tones translated into something funky like acid-house. If you have a chance to see Holy Fuck at an EDM festival, I suggest do so. Just invite everyone in the world you know so it’s not so lonely.
Before we even talk about his set, I would just like to say Madeon is the most adorable little kiddo in the the history of EDM. All of his awkward hand waving made him look like a kid that would be picking his nose and playing the violin had he not found EDM. All I could think during his set was how badly I wanted to just keep him in my pocket and give him Christmas presents. He even does that awkward teenager thing where he acts like it’s badass to drink energy drinks. Absolutely precious. Now about his music. Madeon’s set started off rough with some sound issues. I couldn’t help but notice that it appeared the sound issues were suddenly fixed when one of the techs messed with something on the DJ mixer near the phono/line input selector. Yikes! Not sure if that’s what really happened, but let’s just give the kiddo a free pass. Madeon’s mixing style is all about mash-ups. One of my favorite transitions was when he layered sections of M83′s Midnight City with Porter Robinson’s Language. His set wasn’t as clean as many of the older DJs, but that will come with time. The kid has some serious talent.
After Madeon’s set ended (a few hours before his bedtime), Laidback Luke took over the main stage. I’ve heard many good things lately about this guy, and for good reason. Beyond his killer track selection (the only thing most DJs these days have in their favor) he did some really cool stuff with that decks. I had no idea you could scratch with CDJs, and especially scratch like that. All in all, a good set, I would recommend Laidback Luke if you were looking for a some mainstream EDM sounds with some tomfoolery on the CDJs.
EDM and chairs don’t go well together. There are probably exceptions to this rule. Maybe Steve Aoki’s next gimmick will be to pick a girl in the crowd and throw a chair at her. Or maybe it will be to sit in a chair behind the DJ booth and let someone else mix so he can actually do nothing. Anyways, if there are times when chairs and EDM mix they are rare. The mainstage at the Shoreline amphitheater makes you feel like you’re going to see Aerosmith with your dad. This brings us to my next point. I do not love Mountain View. No one does. It’s hot and dusty and the garlic fries cost like 20 dollars. Maybe garlic is rare there. I don’t know. It still pisses me off.
Other bad things include the fact that I missed Felix Cartal and the fact that I saw Steve for the fourth time.
Goddamn it, would I have liked nothing more than to have slapped David Guetta’s smug open-mouthed smirk off his Geico caveman face. Goddamn it.Written by Brandon Whitney and Benjamin Kimo Twichell Photography by Benjamin Kimo Twichell