Paradiso Festival / The Gorge Amphitheater (George, WA) / 6.23.12
Published: July 9, 2012
By: Gracie Roberts
This year, USC Events brought a beautiful new creation into the world: Paradiso Festival -- Where Digital Meets Nature. On Friday, June 22, EDM fans of all ages trekked up to the Gorge to check out this inviting inaugural event, where they got settled in the venue’s campground in anticipation of the 12-hour rave that was quickly approaching. In the distance, festival attendees could see a glimpse of a large ferris wheel and other amusement park rides that added only more splendors to the natural beauty of the Columbia Gorge.
When Saturday arrived, the crowd was pleased to wake up to pleasant weather and a welcoming atmosphere. The festival’s opening artists began their sets at 2 p.m., taking their places on three separate stages throughout the amphitheater. As attendees walked over to the venue appropriately dressed in festive outfits, they could see they were in for a day and night of both natural and digital adventure.
Dillon Francis took the main stage at 4 p.m. During his time active, this Los Angeles-based DJ and producer has been continuously on the rise in the EDM world. Affectionately known as the “Galactic Emperor of Moombah”, the 24-year-old prides himself on showcasing genres of moombahton, dubstep, and everything in between. During his Paradiso set, Dillon kept the energy high as one of the first big-name artists on the roster. Along with playing a slew of crowd favorites such as his collaboration with Doctor P, “Music Is Dead,” Francis also incorporated top picks of his remixed material into his performance. He also made a point of including samples from multiple 90s tracks, giving Paradiso a unique and entertaining vibe to jam to while chilling out on main stage’s spacious lawn.
R3hab was next up on the schedule, who seamlessly began his set as soon as Dillon Francis bid farewell to the lively Paradiso crowd. R3hab is Fadil El Ghoul, a 26-year-old DJ and house music producer that hails from the Netherlands. R3hab has made a name for himself through his well-known singles and remixes that have been featured by renowned artists such as David Guetta and Swedish House Mafia. R3hab blasted the Paradiso crowd with several of his booming remixes, including Nero’s “Promises”, Calvin Harris’ “Feel So Close” and “We’ll Be Coming Back,” and Kaskade’s “Eyes.” The crowd ate up R3hab’s peak level of energy onstage, and as they danced, the audience shared the same level of enthusiasm for this producer’s performance.
6 p.m. marked emergence of Avicii on the venue’s main stage. As Paradiso was this Swedish producer’s first time performing at the Gorge, it was clear to see that the love felt for the beautiful surroundings was shared between Tim Berg and his loyal fans.
Without a word, Avicii began his two-hour performance onstage, delivering a diversified set to the Paradiso crowd. Along with original tracks such as “Penguin,” “Don’t Give Up On Us,” “My Feelings For You,” “Fade Into Darkness,” and “The Longest Bromance,” Bergling also included remixes of Florence and the Machine’s “You’ve Got the Love,” The Naked and Famous’ “Young Blood,” and surprisingly, “Otherside” by Red Hot Chili Peppers. Avicii’s face shone onstage as he dropped his newest single, “Silhouettes,” for the delighted crowd. Even with his hectic schedule, Bergling put every ounce of dedication into his performance at Paradiso, singing and dancing along with the crowd during each track.
Over at the Digital Oasis stage, Michael Woods provided the crowd with an hour of amusement from 9 to 10 p.m. Woods is a UK producer and remixer of several electronic dance music genres. He has become known for his remixes of tracks including Deadmau5’s “Strobe” and “I Said,” Kaskade’s “Dynasty,” and Martin Solveig’s “Hello.” At Paradiso, Woods’ set consisted of both original and remixed material. His 2011 single, “Last Day on Earth”, served as a high point to his 60-minute performance that won over the Digital Oasis’ crowd.
Back at the main stage, Knife Party kept the crowd on their feet with a bass-filled set that shook the minds and bodies of audience members. Knife Party is an Australian duo that specializes in electro house and dubstep genres. Founded by Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen, Knife Party has seen big success in their short time active as artists. The Party’s most recent EP, Rage Valley, was released for digital download at the end of May. As the sun had finally set in the Gorge, Knife Party turned up the volume with grungy tracks “Internet Friends” and “Bonfire.” Their performance undoubtedly lived up to Rage Valley’s title, as the Paradiso crowd began to party harder as the festival continued into the late hours of the night.
As Knife Party’s set ended, Jono Grant and Paavo Siljamäki emerged as two-thirds of the legendary Above & Beyond onstage. This English trance group has been influencing the EDM industry since their formation in 2000. In their 12 years active as artists, Above & Beyond has gained devoted followers across the globe. In addition to their live performances, A & B also host their own weekly radio show, “Trance Around the World,” that has gained critical acclaim. In October 2011, Above & Beyond was awarded the title of #5 in the world of DJ Magazine’s Top 100 DJ Poll.
Paradiso’s main stage setup, which consisted of panels of swirling LED screens that surrounded around a central platform, had been created specifically for this group’s performance. As the duo presented the awestruck audience with their extraordinary sound, positive and sentimental messages were hand-typed and displayed on the stage’s LED screens, adding to the surreal nature of A & B’s live performance. Jono and Paavo opened with “Alone Tonight,” a track featuring frequent collaborator Richard Bedford. Moving on, tracks “On A Good Day,” “Love Is Not Enough,” and “Sun & Moon” put the audience in a trance that could be felt throughout the venue. Words are not enough to describe the sense of community and love that was felt between the artists and fans during the dreamlike portion of Paradiso that was Above & Beyond’s performance.
Nick van de Wall, better known as Afrojack, closed out the night at the Gorge. This Dutch music producer and DJ provided a danceable ending to the nonstop celebration that was Paradiso Festival. Tracks such as “Take Over Control” and “Top of The World” sent the spirits of the audience members flying, making the festival a night to never forget.
With a picturesque venue, top-quality artists, and an atmosphere that welcomed friendship and kindness, Paradiso proved to be an absolute success for USC Events. With the praise that the event has received from fans, it’s plain to see that the birth of Paradiso means only more magic to come in the future.