Published: January 9, 2014
Photos by: Robert Underwood (nofilterphotography.com)
Story by: Jacki Horne
Lights All Night transformed the Dallas Convention Center into an indoor psychedelic playground, garnished with intricately crafted soundscapes, impressively mapped-out stages, and elaborate lighting design during its third annual installment this New Year’s Eve weekend. Countless accomplished producers and DJ’s graced the heart of downtown Dallas with EDM bangers that kept the city wide-awake and dancing into the early morning hours on Friday night and Saturday night. The talent on the bill represented both veteran and budding names in the electronic scene including: Grizmatik, Above and Beyond, A-Trak, Thriftworks, Kaskade, Zomboy, Deadmau5, and many more.
The setup consisted of two diverse stages, the Mothership Stage and the Boombox Stage, as well as a silent disco. Both stages were sick with their own mapped out style, reflecting visual art projection, incredible lighting and blankets of lazers. Every element was carefully tailored for each individual set to convey a music-matching vibe. The Mothership Stage had fiery flames that were periodically puffed out into the crowd as bass drops simultaneously heated things up. The Boombox stage had an elevated DJ booth with a huge overhanging screen behind it, where an assortment of aesthetically appealing kaleidoscopic patterns and live footage were projected to go along with the music.
Above & Beyond -- Most Powerful Messages of Unity:
The trio truly did take it above and beyond during their Saturday night set at the Boombox stage. Inspiring messages of cultural movement, unity and love were projected on the backdrop screen. The most striking of those messages summed up the electronic music movement as it spelled out, “Music has the power to define a generation…we are the electronic music generation”. Another memorable moment was when the trio dropped “The Sun and The Moon”; the music and the bass were faded out at the beginning, and all that could be heard was the sound of the crowd singing the lyrics together until the moment the bass dropped, where everyone resumed jumping around with full-throttle energy. Above & Beyond created a unifying experience through music, embodying the whole “PLUR” philosophy.
Grizmatik -- Most Raw & Only Livetronica
Grizmatik was the only livetronica represented at LAN this year, and the electro soul power team was definitely the right choice to rock that distinction. The live element of Grizmatik’s Friday night set added enormous amounts of depth and substance to the electronic experience, as their set was textured with sexy sax solos by Grant Griz, and rockin’ electric guitar by Ales. Other live elements of the Grizmatik experience included a sing along to “Tilt Mode” by Gibbz, and fresh hip-hop flows by Jay Fresh. Grizmatik played with the energy of the crowd throughout their set, getting them high on rowdy moments, then bringing it back down to chillingly soulful instrumental solos. While most of the weekend’s performances were focused on hyping up the crowd, Grizmatik’s set focused on raw, live music production.
Thriftworks – Most Hidden Gem (& Best Sense of Humor)
Tucked away in the silent disco corner of the convention center, Jake Atlas pumped his original organic tracks through the headphones of silent discoers during Friday’s early morning hours. I actually skipped out on both Krewella and Deadmau5 for his silent disco appearance that took place at the same time. After experiencing Atlas’ Art Outside set earlier this year I knew had to catch him again at LAN. I also couldn’t resist his satirical status about the event stating, “Play at 1AM, same set time as Deadmau5 and Krewella so set your LED cheese reflectors to level 11. Pokemon blue with the USB attachment. No seriously tho.”. That same sense of humor came out during his set as he made sure to give a shout-out to Justin Bieber. Jake Atlas is a very underrated producer; Deviation was one of my favorite EPs released in 2013, and I cannot wait to see big things from him in 2014.
Paper Diamond – Most Sexy Samples & Most Trippy Projections
Alex B. rocked some of the dirtiest synths and snares heard all weekend; he also sampled some of the most sexually charged tracks including Ludacris’ “What’s Your Fantasy,” Aluna George’s “You Know You Like It,” and Cashmere Cat’s “Do You.” His Saturday night set also had the best visual projection and lighting design that I experienced all weekend. In addition to dizzying strobe lights and bubbles shot out from backstage, a headshot photo of Alex B reppin’ rockstar shades spun around on the background projection screen, changing speed with the tracks’ tempos. All of these elements blended together to create an overall trippy performance with a sexy vibe.
Major Lazer- Most Crowd-Pleasing
Major Lazer took the crowd by the balls during their late Saturday performance, and kept the house built up all night. Although it was the end of a long weekend, the trio came out with full-fledged energy; clapping their hands, blowing whistles and flailing their bodies around. Crowd-surfing has been done, so Major Lazer took it to the next level with their epic crowd-zorbing stunt. That’s right, Diplo got in a giant inflatable zorb-ball and somersaulted over the hands of the crowd. This takes “rolling” at a show to the next level too, huh?
Le Castle Vania – Most Smooth Transitions
Dylan Eiland really knows how to rock a mashup. What sold me most on his set is when he went from Daft Punk’s “Around the World” to Smashing Pumpkin’s “Zero” to Knife Party’s “Internet Friends” in a flawless transition, as though the three songs were somehow composed to mesh together in one big EDM moment. What really got me hooked was the epic bass drop during the Smashing Pumpkin’s sample; it was pure filth to say the least. There isn’t a whole lot of grudge-era repped in EDM these days, so Le Castle Vania’s Smashing Pumpkins throwdown was definitely appreciated.
Zomboy – Most Rowdy
Out of all the hyphey performances that I witnessed during LAN weekend, Zomboy takes the cake for the rowdy as fuck award during his Friday night set. Joshua Mellody is a one-man hype show; he rocked the fuck out, jumped around and sang along with the crowd his entire set. It was over-stimulation in the best, most basstastic way possible, as he laid down aggressive beats while streamers, lazers and bubbles made their way across the packed crowd.
A-Trak – Most Seasoned Performance
Alain Macklovitch, co-founder of Fool’s Gold, has been in the EDM game for a long time, and that fact is obvious throughout his live performance. His entrance was immaculate, as he opened with “Tuna Melt” and stood on the edge of the DJ podium, leading the crowd to clap in sync while images of lightening bolts and a live recording of him doing his thing were projected on the big screen behind. Additionally, more merch and fun things were thrown out into the crowd than of any other weekend performance.
All in all, the 10-hour two-night dance party was overindulgence through sensory stimulation in a fantastically entertaining way. Lights All Night 2013 was well-organized, and there weren’t long wait times between sets, making it easy for LAN goers to keep their groove going all night long. I’m glad I got to experience the chaos with my own ears and eyes this year.