Sunday, May 30, 2010

Concert Review: ETD POP 2010, San Francisco

Hey what's going on everyone?? Hope all you music heads had a good Saturday night. I certainly did, as I lost my mind last night at ETD POP 2010 in San Francisco. I slightly mentioned it before, but ETD POP is an annual electronic music event that happens in San Francisco usually around memorial day weekend. This would have to be the second biggest electronic music event that happens in Northern California, with LovEvolution (the former LoveFest) being the first. However, this POP was a little different than the previous others. First and foremost, this was the first year that all the acts would be confined to one single stage. Typically is the case that there would be several different rooms (usually 5) separated based on music type; usually Trance, House, Breaks, Drum & Bass, and Hardcore. I guess the money saved on having lesser DJ's to pay was spent on advertisement (saw flyers and billboards everywhere) and the improved stage production. Anyway, on to the show...

As I got there quite a bit later into the show (thanks lazy friends), I missed the sets put on by Dyloot, LA Riots, and Gareth Emery. Dyloot is usually at every San Francisco event as he is a San Francisco native and the main organizer of Skills, so as I've seen him many times before I'm sure to see him again many times down the road. LA Riots, a house act presumably out of LA, I have never seen before so I'm a tad bit disappointed I missed them. Hope to catch some of their live stuff on youtube. I don't know too much about Gareth Emergy, but the general consensus is he is a really great trance DJ on the rise. Hope to see some of him in the future. Getting inside I did notice that the stage production was done AMAZINGLY. The previous year had a rotating stage and looked all nice. 2008 had some great production with gymnasts coming down from the rafters. This year's winner was the incredible lighting, huge rotating DJ stage, well timed fog machines, surrounding dancers placed in the crowd, and bubble machines.

The first act I was able to catch was Steve Aoki. Leading up to this I heard the man puts on a good show and plays some really club heavy house. I have heard some of his studio work as was not impressed at all, but that again that never speaks towards how good of a set they do when they DJ. I'm definitely in the Deadmau5 way of thinking that a DJ should stay off of the mic as much as possible, but clearly Steve Aoki doesn't share this sentiment. The guy was on the mic the whole night shouting out the songs he was playing and then ran around the stage like a madman and shouting lyrics a la death metal to some songs like we were at Ozzfest. I wasn't too big a fan of that but his song selections were on point when it came to the club tracks and he definitely got the mood set off right. I wasn't too big of a Steve Aoki fan leading up to this but I'm warming up to him I will have to admit.

Next up was Boys Noize out of Germany. Again, an act that was relatively unheard of to me until I found out he was on the POP lineup. I didn't really do that much research but I knew he was a house act. I heard his act leans more towards electro house and techno. I really enjoyed this set. The beats sounded great and the transitions were really great as well. I will have to check this dude out some more as he won me over last night for sure.

Next up was the famous Fedde Le Grand out of the Netherlands. The man has been a household name in the realm of house ever since the release of the smash single "Put Your Hands Up For Detroit". I know that he puts on a lot of great sets and has some great house selections so I was really excited for this one and he certainly did not disappoint. Of course he had to throw in a remix of his famous breakthrough single. His DJ work was great with the lighting and the stage. Really great setting for Fedde to put it down.

Next up was the Italian Stallion himself, Benny Benassi. He has been on a roll as one of, if not the leading, names in house music. The man is a pioneer and I have been a fan of his for a while. His set certainly was amazing as he tore through a bunch of hits like "Satisfaction" and "I Love My Sex" along with doing what makes him famous around the world with his DJ transitions, remixes, and song selections. This set was amazing and I wish I could see it in more of an intimate club setting. Great nonetheless!

Next up was my man, voted #1 DJ around the world, Armin van Buuren out of the Netherlands. I have seen Armin various times before at Monster Massive 2007, LoveFest After Party 2008, and once again at Monster Massive 2009. He has never disappointed me in his sets and his song selections. As the world renowned leader of Trance, he hardly ever falters in his reputation, and it is because of sets like this one. Considering the night was more house than trance, I was a little skeptical on how the crowd would react to him. However, he is a master for a reason. His trance selection leaned a little more to the bass heavy and dance side, which got the crowd in right mindset. He threw in a few classics "In and Out of Love", "Zocalo", and "Aisha" nicely remixed and had the transitions and pauses at perfect timing. Stage lighting and everything was perfect as well. One thing that makes Armin as famous as he is, is the interaction with the fans to show his true appreciation. It was certainly hot as hell inside and he was joking around with us on the subject. Smiling, waving, jumping and dancing with the songs; little things like this, without being like Aoki and being all over the mic, can make a DJ a huge success like him. This might have been my favorite Armin van Buuren set I have seen.

Last up was Infected Mushroom out of Israel. I've always had mixed feelings about this group. I first caught them at Monster Massive 2007 and didn't necessarily dig their entire live band gimmick while trying to be an electronic music act. While rock and electronic music can be fused together successfully, usually is the case is that a live band incorporates elements of electronic music in their studio production, and not the other way around. Plus, as I said before, I'm not a huge fan about MC's on the mic while dance songs are on. It kills the entire mood of the beats for me and is a huge distraction. To me you have to be on some serious drugs to like this group. I left halfway through their set to avoid as much traffic as I could and simply because they didn't really change my original perspective on them. Not too sad that I missed it. Armin should have closed out but it worked out for me this way so I could leave a little bit earlier.


Crowd - The crowd responded to the music and DJ's super well. Kept the energy levels high.
Production - The production was the best of any POP I have seen to date. Beside the sound having a few troubles, it was all done very well.
Organization - Beside the super long line to make it to the front entrance, the venue did a good job of organization considering the smaller crowd size (16,000 from 24,000 the previous year) with maintaining things at a good pace.
Lineup - You couldn't really put much of a better lineup together for an event of this magnitude and the time that was permitted. I would have chosen a better closer than Infected Mushroom, but all things considered, the lineup was awesome. Good picks for a night that combined house and trance.

Rating: Overall, this was an amazing POP. Quite a night to remember. I will give this one **** (4 stars).

***** - Perfect night. Legendary show
**** - Great night. Very enjoyable
*** - Decent night. Some things were hit or miss but overall fine.
** - Boring night. Not too many enjoyable things at this show.
* - Terrible night. Everything went wrong with this one. Where's the booze?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Throwback Thursday: The Prodigy "The Fat Of The Land"

Throwback Thursday? Wtf is that? Let's start this off with a bang. This will be a retro-throwback-oldschool-vintage-aged (or whatever you want to call it) review of an album or band or a reminiscing of a particular trend, scene, or moment in music that takes importance in my mind. So considering it's Thursday and this blog is brand new, why don't we start off with one right off the bat? Let's get right to it....

This Week: The Fat Of The Land (album) by The Prodigy [1997]

Now I was a wee-lad when this album came out, but in terms of groundbreaking discoveries, this is the album that changed mine and a lot of other peoples' lives around the world. When Prodigy dropped The Fat Of The Land in 1997, that year became a big year for the electronic music scene to make its way out of the dungeon basement raves in the Europe and certain sectors of the US and into the mainstream and onto the charts. I want to say this album and Daft Punk's Homework (which also came out the same year and will get its own Throwback Thursday post) were the two driving forces that made 1997 a year where electronic music found their way onto boomboxes (what are those?), walkmans (what are those), and stereo systems around the world. It could be debated forever as to why people were turned onto this album, considering the big beat and hardcore techno movements weren't necessarily new, however this was a big step for Prodigy into a more commercial friendly sound. Their previous albums were pretty much the same genre, however The Fat Of The Land had more "song" aspects than their previous albums had. The songs were structured, they were shorter, they were less ambiguous, they had quite a few vocalists...but the main keys: they were catchy, they had some ridiculously freaky videos, and they were club bangers. Those 3 elements were what really shot them into the masses. Liam Howlett's beats, the genius that he is, rang through everyone's ears yes, but the freakishly looking outfits and haircuts of Keith Flint (main vocalist) haunted everyone's nightmares after watching a Prodigy video. Catchy beats and catchy hooks, cue "Smack My Bitch Up" made something for everyone to request in the club, whether they knew about electronic music or not. I was no exception to that rule. I spent many nights watching the videos of "Breathe", "Firestarter", and my favorite "Smack My Bitch Up" and watching in awe as my musical tastes began to evolve from that point. The mind of a child might be weak, but there was no going back after this point. This album never gets old and to this day, I still hear some of the jams played at clubs and at raves. And guess what...the electronic/dance scene is bigger than ever (expect a post about that in the near future as well). I'm positive that won't change anytime in the near future. Thanks'll always freak me out and make me dance at the same time.

~Dr. M

Review: (*****) 5/5 stars

P.S. Remember..did I miss anything? Do you disagree? Did you not like the album? Did you really like the album? Leave a comment yo!