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Favorite Staff Picks - Top 5s - Aaron Gaudette

Published: January 2, 2011


By: Aaron Gaudette   

Top 5’s of 2010

Five Best Concerts of 2010 (from a Southern Californian perspective)

1. The Electric Daisy Carnival 2010 (Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum)

Without going into extensive repetitions of things I’ve already written about (, this festival takes the proverbial cake for more reasons than anyone should care to count. With a literal overabundance of industry heavyweights, accompanied by the freak show that was the festival’s attendees and the amusement park that seemingly rose from the ground overnight, this two-day rave-stravaganza comprised one of the more ridiculous weekends I’ve had in recent memory. And I can’t wait to do it all over again next year.

2. Deadmau5 @ Intervention (Hard Rock Hotel, Downtown San Diego)

Of the three times I saw Mr. Mau5 in concert during the course of the year, this show stood out largely because of the unique circumstances in which it took place. Don’t get me wrong—deadmau5 put on a great show in the other two venues I saw him in—but there was something truly special about seeing one of the world’s best DJs perform on a poolside lawn in front of a crowd of 1,200, and with Afrojack as the opener to boot. Being able to boogie in my boardshorts all afternoon in the San Diego sunshine to my favorite deadmau5 jams was truly a memorable experience (video:
3. Steve Angello (4th & B, Downtown San Diego)

I’ve never made my affection for this venue—a 21,000 square foot warehouse with minimal amenities—any secret, and it has housed some of the best shows I’ve attended over the years, not the least of which was Steve Angello’s two-and-a-half-hour jaw-rattling jam session he put on earlier this month. While my familiarity with the Swedish House Mafia was admittedly lackluster earlier in the year, their album releases and subsequent tour performances have made me a huge fan of their work. And at this show in particular, Angello kept the crowd jumping with his own as well as other hits until well past three in the morning, a feat not without commendation.
4. Benny Benassi (On Broadway Event Center, Downtown San Diego)

Similar to my track record with deadmau5, this was my third time seeing Benny in four months—this time incarnated as the final stop of the “California Bike Tour” he undertook over the summer. While the intimacy of the venue predictably enhanced the overall performance, it was perhaps the fact that this last stop on the bike tour provided a climax to a strenuous experience for the DJ that made it as special as it was. Benny seemed to be honestly enjoying himself for the duration of his set, giving an energy that the attendees reciprocated right back to him. I’ve found that this sort of mutual invigoration is what separates the best shows from all the others, and this performance held true to form.

5. Steve Aoki (Wavehouse, Mission Beach)

Speaking of energy, Steve Aoki is one of the few artists I’ve seen who gives his all at every one of his performances. When Aoki and his infamous inflatable raft came out to the beach last August, I knew I was in for a real treat. And sure as the San Diego sunshine, Aoki came through, truly “touching them all” with an extended set that featured both his classics and new material that went well into the night. Aoki performed all his usual gimmicks, dousing the crowd with champagne and not only stage-diving himself, but encouraging attendees to do likewise (at which some did not fare quite as well as he; video: Concerts by the beach are fun enough by themselves, but a performer like Aoki can truly set the standard on how to throw a beach party.

Top 5 Surprises of 2010

1. Stage Rush at the Electric Daisy Carnival

Hmmm, well, I suppose that one bad apple spoils the whole bag, eh? While the media focused on this one incident as if it typified the whole weekend, this unfortunate occurrence really symbolized what a festival such as EDC is not about. But when you attempt crowd-control among 100,000+ raving youths, expecting absolute success is a bit overly idealistic. Truth be told, however, I’ve been to rock concerts where damage to both person and property far exceeded that of EDC, and thankfully Lil’ Jon was there to help security get things back under control (video:

2. Deadmau5 collapsing on stage, canceling summer tour performances

The electronic music community was rocked at its very foundation this summer when one of its biggest stars collapsed during a performance, suffering from exhaustion and vomiting. Deadmau5’s collapse during a performance at the 9:30 club in Washington, D.C. led to the cancellation of nine shows on his summer tour while the artist recuperated at home in Toronto. Perhaps this wasn’t as much of a shock as an inevitability, especially for those who view deadmau5 as a party-animal DJ who doesn’t appropriately exemplify the electronic music genre. I mean, how much incessant partying with Tommy Lee can one scrawny Canadian kid take? Thankfully it appears that the incident was only a brief hiccup, as the mau5 resumed touring a couple months later.

3. Steve Aoki MASSIVE stage-dive

As mentioned above, Steve Aoki has a bit of a stage-diving fetish in which he tends to indulge often at his concerts.  And while the heights he’s dove from at the shows I’ve attended have been undeniably impressive, this dive at a show in Calgary is just plain ballistic (video: This guy puts faith in the hands of his fans and routinely risks life and limb for the sake of making his shows awesome.

4. Tron soundtrack produced by Daft Punk

It probably didn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone to hear that Disney approached techno-legends Daft Punk about producing the soundtrack for their future-themed film, Tron, but the final product of the duo’s efforts has done more than raise a few eyebrows. While most reasonably anticipated a variation of the bass-heavy, autotune-infused electronica that the group is famous for, they instead were treated to a classical music-led journey that is really a complete departure from anything we’ve come to expect from the duo. And it suits the movie well.

5. Deadmau5 serving as house artist @ the VMA’s

In the midst of his rehab from the aforementioned collapse on stage, deadmau5 served as the house artist at MTV’s Video Music Awards this past September, much to the dismay of many and to the excitement of most. Personally, I didn’t bother to watch the performance that irked so many and pleased many more, and his appearance on a network that I’ve long since deemed irrelevant didn’t change my opinion of the mau5. I just thought this an oddity, to be sure, not solely because of the performance but also because of the variance in reactions it engendered.

Top 5 Albums of 2010

1. Swedish House Mafia—Until One

A true amalgamation of the efforts of three of the world’s best DJ’s, this mixed album has a little bit of everything—from the best tracks of each individual to classics mixed in with new material—and a distinct SHM flavor. Definite must-own for any fan of house.

2. Electric Daisy Carnival, Vol.1—Mixed by Kaskade

A favorite largely due to the experience that was EDC, this album was awesome even beforehand because of both the artists it features as well as the presentation, with Kaskade delivering new mixes of classic songs. Even if you were unable to attend the show, this album is worth owning for both its listenability as well as a pre-party soundtrack for 2011.

3. Deadmau5—4X4=12

Similar to SHM’s most recent offering, the latest release by the mau5 is a fusion of the new material attendees to his shows have been privy for over the past months, and it didn’t disappoint. Listeners are treated to songs that follow in classic mau5 form as well as his first venture into the dubstep genre, and it all amounts to yet another solid production from the hau5 of mau5.

4. Kaskade—

In case my affection for remixes and mixed albums wasn’t entirely apparent, I’m quite fond of this album for these reasons and the fact that it’s just well put together and seamlessly mixed. Taking some of his best material—new and old—along with other top industry singles and wrapping it all up in this nice little package, is an album that does its title justice and reminds listeners of their unadulterated love of dance.

5. Pretty Lights—Spilling Over Every Side

A refreshing divergence from the more prominent electronic genres that dominate the airwaves and the club scene, the second of Pretty Lights’ three EP offerings this year features hip-hop and soul elements that are integrated in a unique format that’s hard not to love. Available for free on his website (, Pretty Lights rewards those who dare to try something different and take a break from the mainstream.

Tags: ElectroHouseTranceDowntempoBreaksDrum and BassDubstepGlitchHip HopLivetronica