I went into the experience of attending an electronic music festival with the notion that it would be much like the rave montage in “Black Swan” or a less-censored-and-therefore-more-entertaining episode of the original British Skins. The media portrays the underground rave scene as this social, jovial, even spiritual experience; kids drop pills and find themselves raging, letting loose, and completely vibing to the music in the multicolored flashing lights.
If there’s one genre of music that I know I can always enjoy, it’s dance music. I bought my $41-with-tax ticket to the FROST Electronic Music Festival from the local Hen House and planned on an interesting evening.
Each quick scan around the venue revealed a new scantily-clad girl with gigantic furry boots and straightened hair, wearing beaded bracelets up her arms and clinging to a cell phone for dear life. There were also those who were dressed crazy on purpose: the girl in the anime Barney suit, the bright yellow chicken costume, the platform boots and multicolored wigs, and the ever-present Binky, which I was informed is a way to keep yourself from grinding your teeth while under the influence of Ecstasy.
Everywhere I turned, a different beat was thumping: there was the poorly-attended set at Indie Bar next door, and down in the basement, the B-lister DJ that rocked out on an electric violin. Speakers blasted prerecorded music by the merch tables, and DJs mixed away on the main top floor. Then, there was the main stage, the real treat.
Flashing lights shaped like fireworks enticed us as we made our way up to the front row as the first performer, Ecotek was playing (or rather, mixing while standing behind a laptop) his set. Snagging a spot to the right of the stage (in hopes that Steve Aoki, the third performer on the stage, would pay our side of the crowd a visit), we posted ourselves in anticipation for the bigger-name performers.
The performers on the main stage were dubstep artists, DJs who mix together pre-existing songs with their own beats using the genre’s characteristic bass. We listened to our fair share of dubstep before the concert, and I was more than excited to feel the “drop” (or build-up turning into a heavy bassline) into the music live.
Ecotek was good; I found myself moving along to the beat without realizing I was doing so. His stuff was upbeat and light compared to the impending beats of Excision and Aoki. The songs flowed nicely, and the bass kept everything on tempo and danceable. The same went for his following act, Marty Party, another guy with fittingly party-worthy beats and a laptop.
As Excision, a name I hadn’t heard before the concert, took the stage, I prepared myself for something much heavier. He opened with this futuristic, almost mechanic, mix that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The massive twelve-foot-tall speakers directly in front of me thumped along with the bass, moving the gate that I was leaning on; I could see my hands shaking from the sheer force of the music. By the time his dark, hour-long set was up, I felt too burned out to enjoy Steve Aoki. How could he live up to the hype of that?
I was wrong. Aoki was the most high-energy act I’ve ever seen live, and I couldn’t help myself from jumping up and down, clapping, and headbanging along to his cutting edge beats. Aoki actually sang/yelled into the mic as needed, unlike his openers, and shot off bottles of champagne on the front row as confetti erupted from the edges of the stage. He played his two most popular songs, “Warp 1.9” and “I’m In The House,” and his hour-and-fifteen-minute set felt like a mere 10 minutes; I wanted more when he was through.
But sadly, Aoki exited stage right and Infected Mushroom went on next. We were officially too burned out to really enjoy the set, and left before the final act closed. Excision and Aoki were more than enough electro for one sitting (or rather, standing).
The Sunday after FROST, I spent a large portion of the day sleeping off the experience, and moaning in bed about muscle cramps and a potentially-dislodged brain (main cause being “whipping my hair back and forth”). Unlike plenty of the other ravers, my “concert hangover” came not from drugs or alcohol, but from dancing much too hard. Advil and caffeine could not cut deep enough into the lingering baseline in my bloodstream. When I finally forced myself out of bed and brushed my hair out, leftover bits of metallic blue and silver confetti strew themselves all over my bathroom floor.
As my friend and fellow-concert-goer Bob told me, “You may leave FROST, but FROST will never leave you.”