Story by Gracie Roberts
Photo courtesy of Krystle Blackburn with PLM (www.prettylightsmusic.com)
On September 10th, Washington’s Gorge Amphitheater hosted what turned out to be a momentous ending to IDentity Festival’s 20-city tour across the nation. As the home of many well-known musical events, including Sasquatch Music Festival, it was only appropriate that The Gorge stepped up its game to welcome in an all-electronic affair.
Although only one day long, IDentity Festival was ten hours filled with top-tier electronic artists that never ceased to supply their fans with the music they were deeply craving. From 1 to 11 pm, concertgoers traveled between the venue’s three stages, immersing themselves in bass deep enough to shake the entire crowd from the inside out.
Headliners for the Gorge’s IDentity included Kaskade, Pretty Lights, Rusko, Disco Biscuits, Booka Shade, Datsik, LA Riots, and The Crystal Method. The festival also included many up-and-coming artists, who occupied the Amphitheater’s Advent Stage.
Nero started the festivities at the Dim Mak Stage. Although the temperature was a sweltering 98 degrees, fans were not deterred from experiencing what Nero had to offer. Nero is the brainchild of Joe Ray and Daniel Stephens. Hailing from London, the pair gained popularity upon their debut dubstep release, “This Way,” in 2008. More recently, the duo has remixed artists including La Roux, Deadmau5, and N.E.R.D.
With each member anchoring half of the tour, it was Stephens who made an appearance at Washington’s show. One half of the duo did not result in one half of the energy. Stephens hit the crowd with some of Nero’s most well known hits, such as “Promises,” “Crush On You,” and “Guilt” from their debut album, Welcome Reality, which was released last month. Although still somewhat new to the electronic music scene, this duo has not wasted time in producing quality beats consistenly garnering them a worldwide fan base.
Rusko was up next on IDentity’s roster, and he was given a prime spot at the Skullcandy Main Stage. Hoards of fans rushed over to the Amphitheater’s lawn in order to get a good view of this legendary English dubstep producer.
Born Christopher Mercer, Rusko gained popularity in the dubstep world after graduating from Leeds College of Music with a degree in music performance. In addition to producing much of his own content, Mercer has worked with several popular artists, including M.I.A., Rihanna, and Britney Spears.
Rusko’s set proved to transcend the fans’ expectations, bombarding their ears with the enormous drops and unorthodox sound effects only accustomed to Rusko’s style. Onstage, Mercer wore nothing on his feet except white socks, so he could jump and dance around just as much as the crowd in front of him. In addition to satisfying his fans with hits such as “Da Cali Anthem” and “Cockney Thug,” he also surprised them with a couple of new tracks that got the crowd equally as excited. Throughout his set, Rusko stayed true to his upbeat, exhilarating sound that continues to win fans throughout the electronic music community.
As the sun went down on the Columbia Gorge, Pretty Lights was getting set up on the main stage. Needless to say, the IDentity crowd was more than ready for his set. What was once a half-filled lawn quickly transformed into a sea of concertgoers, moving in waves as a single entity.
Born Derek Vincent Smith, this artist has made a huge impact on the electronic music world, beginning in 2007 when he started playing after parties for large acts such as STS9 and The Disco Biscuits. Now a household name in the electronic scene, Pretty Lights never hesitates to cross genres, offering a combination of glitchy hip-hop beats, heavy synth lines, and digital samples taken from various funk and soul materials.
Smith played many songs off of his albums Taking Up Your Precious Time and Filling Up The City Skies during his Gorge performance. In addition to the hypnotizing beats that kept the crowd in a constant trance, Smith’s onstage setup was what truly set him apart from many of the artists performing that day. All eyes were wide open in the crowd, fixated on the ever-changing visuals displayed on the skyscrapers covered with expansive LCD screens. All in all, this show left Pretty Lights’ fans in a euphoric daze that would prepare them for what was to come next.
While Pretty Lights enticed the main stage’s crowd, Booka Shade put on their own kind of electronic spectacle on the Dim Mak Stage. The band’s two members, Walter Merziger and Arno Kammermeier, form this house duo that is currently rising in popularity at great speed. Complete with a full drum set and multiple keyboards onstage, the pair wowed the crowd with both their sound and evident musical talent.
Consisting of two German house fanatics who are described as veterans of the electronic music scene in Frankfurt, their talent has been much appreciated and valued in America as well as throughout Europe. Spanning from 2004 to 2010, they have released four albums, Memento, Movements, The Sun & The Neon Light and More!.
Booka Shade opened their set with their hit, “Night Falls” from Movements. They continued to please the crowd with songs such as “Teenage Spaceman,” “In White Rooms,” and “Hide and Seek in Geisha’s Garden.” Fans moved and grooved to the catchy beats, drumming along with their glow sticks in hand. Surely, Booka Shade will have more in store for the crowds that have grown to love their smooth, unique sound.
At the end of the seemingly endless day that was IDentity Festival, Kaskade was given the ultimate spot to close out the night. Performing at the Skullcandy Main Stage, Kaskade towered over the crowd on a colossal pillar that gave him an angelic appearance. Born Ryan Raddon, Kaskade has become one of the greatest names in electronic music. Earlier this year, he was voted “America’s Best DJ 2011” in a poll in DJ Times.
Not one hit was left out of Kaskade’s 90-minute-long set. The crowd was fed with the sounds of “Don’t Stop Dancing,” “4 AM,” “Eyes,” and of course, the long-awaited megahits “Move For Me” and “I Remember,” each remixed to perfection. The crowd’s reaction to Kaskade’s array of music was quite emotional, as each song brought out different levels of nostalgia in the listeners.
At the end of his set, Kaskade praised the crowd and the Gorge Amphitheater, saying that it was “the most beautiful venue we have performed at during this entire tour”. Coming down from the enormous pillar on which he performed, Kaskade joined in the crowd’s activities, throwing inflated beach balls in the air as he enjoyed the conclusion of his set with the 15,000 fans populating the lawn.
IDentity Festival in The Gorge proved to be an unforgettable landmark for the electronic music community in the Northwest. As the first year of the tour, IDentity surely has many more years to come. Now, both artists and fans can only wait to see what’s in store for next summer.
Pretty Lights - I Know the Truth
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