The year 2010 was once considered to be a significant date in the distant future at which point the world would suddenly become futuristic and significant, but now it is only weeks away, and nobody cares.
I guess the world is full of problems and too preoccupied to catch the party vibe, but the same can not be said for the permanent smile on the face of the rave world.
Even though Fresh has been putting on shows for several years, this was the first time I had actually made it to a Fresh Event, and I was a little nervous.
One reason was that, as far as I know, the Pico Rivera Sports Arena is a new venue to the rave scene and there are usually some issues with new venues. Specifically, I was afraid that the line to get in would be hell. To my surprise (the first of many), there was only a short line and it only took a few minutes to get inside. Considering that there were 11,000 people at the show, the short line was even more impressive.
We explored the venue to get a taste of each room and to decide where we would spend the majority of our time, as is common practice.
In the main room, DJ Caffeine was playing a Hard Style set that sounded like a mix of Hardcore, Hard House, Hard Rock and (Hard?) Techno. The main stage design was packed with GOGO Girls, huge digital light panels, fog machines pumping out thousands of cubic feet of fog. The thick fog was lit up by lasers and colorful lights. As the lights changed, the color of the fog also changed, pulsing and pounding like a digital heart. Pretty Bangin'. I don't know why we didn't spend more time there, but we didn't and I can't go back, so that is all I can tell you about that room.
Next it was time to visit to my old friend Mr. Jungle, which was kind of a weird experience. Visiting the Jungle room at a rave these days feels like seeing a friend in the hospital. It is a sad experience, but you still do it since you care.
If that does not make sense to you, neither will this.
Where to start...
Nobody is dancing to it, the music itself is too fast and garbled for anybody to want to dance to it, and the DJ's have been playing Drum and Bass for so long that they don't notice that the kids have not been listening to it long enough to understand where these records came from. Today's sound is a progression of the sound from years gone by, but by themselves the new stuff does not make sense, it only makes sense as a continuation of the sound that came before it, and when heard in context.
So, in a nutty shell, this is why Drum and Bass has gone from being the sickest sound in town to terminally ill with a bad case of the chills. In an effort to constantly advance and stay fresh, Drum and Bass has put itself on ice. My advice is a healthy infusion of other genres, the infusion of live instruments, and a manditory 160bpm speed limit to keep the pace at a human level. It is also possible that dubstep and drum and bass will merge into hybrid genre.
Drum and Bass DJs, please figure out how to play music that the crowd can relate to, and keep in mind that just because you can bob your tiny little british head at 190 bpm, it does not mean that anybody can dance to it.
Now, back to the party and on to my favorite room !!!!!
On the House/Electro Stage, DJ Jesse Tittsworth (yes that is his real name) played an eclectic set, with a little bit of everything from 80s TV show theme music to electro and break beat. Some people refer to this kind of set as "Baltimore Club" but I would just call it a good old fasion Mash Up.
At one point he played a sample of the original A-TEAM Theme Song for 20 seconds, and used that as a build for the grimy electro that he dropped next. This worked, but was very different transition that in a classic Trance or House set, where the build is the soft and melodic part of the song that plays before the pounding kicker comes in. Near the end of his set, he played a Drum and Bass record, which sounded great.
While the stage design in all the rooms was well done, including a huge tank turret surrounding the DJ booth in the DnB Room, what stood out in my mind were the excellent and trippy visuals projected onto the big screens above the stage in the Crystal Castle. The video clips were always appropriate and complimented the music, changing for each DJ and each sound. The VJ in that room was the unsung hero of the night.
The last set of the night came from DJ D:FUSE who played house while playing electric drums live on stage. It was a classic set and one that kept me dancing the whole time, right up until 4:00 a.m. If you have not heard D:FUSE, do yourself a favor and find him on a line up, and don't just go to watch or to listen, go to dance.
Dancing is interactive and physical and visceral and healthy, and is an art form worth mastering. Watching and listening is just not enough!
To all the new ravers in the scene, keep in mind that this is a not a concert and this is not rock. This is a party, this is dance music, and this is the best music in the world.