Thursday, February 9, 2012

Lasers, Fire, and Electronic Music - Winter Warpdrive VII

To listen to the audio version, go to the bottom of the post.

Behind invasive pat-downs and metal detectors, a spectacle raged in perpetual motion.

DJs manipulated towers of electronic instruments, high-powered lasers traced patterns in the fog of smoke machines, and fire and belly dancers hypnotized the crowd. And yet, the real show was the glow stick-adorned mass of fans that pulsed with life.

Winter Warpdrive is an electro-music festival, currently in its seventh year and its largest venue. With a humble beginning in abandoned warehouses, the festival has come a long way and pulled out some big name artists in recent years. It all went down last Saturday, Feb. 4, at the Family Arena in St. Charles.

This year the festival featured Eoto, a unique Dubstep duo that does every set live and improvised, like Jazz musicians of old. Jason Hann pounded on the drums while Michael Travis used a combination of live looping, keyboard and guitar.

In stark contrast with classic rock musicians, electro artists are not the stars rocking a packed stadium, with groupies screaming from the front row. Electro artists stand behind pulsating racks of keyboards, mixers and laptops, keying out melodies and beatmatching tracks. Even from the front row, it is hard to see the musician's face. Most artists even choose to fill the stage with fog, to intensify the effect of the laser show going on around them.

At an electronic festival such as WWVII, the electro musician is just one part of the event, and not the main focus. The shows focus is a fan’s experience. The dedicated electronic fan spends weeks crafting their costume, and perfecting their hula-hoop skills. At an electro concert, you do not have a packed mass of people worshiping the guitar god on stage, but a group of fans that become friends through the experience of hearing their favorite songs together.

At about 1 o’ clock in the morning, BT took the stage and charged the crowd like only a Grammy-nominated artist can. His anthem inspired beats echoed through the re-purposed basketball stadium. Most outside the scene do not know his name, but BT has songs that appear in the movies “American Pie” and “Blade II.” He has also produced for such artists as 'N Sync and Sting. However, BT's greatest claim to fame is an audio technique of his own invention called Stutter Edit, which is expected to dominate pop music like auto-tune's sweep in the late millennium.

While these titans of electro ripped the air a new one, a group known as The Fire Technicians performed dances inspired by aboriginal peoples of the world, with hoops and batons ablaze. The Valhalla Dance Collective performed the Arabian art of belly dance as a synchronized group, with lasers and strobes to back them up.

In the wee hours of the morning, Marco V took the stage, as the dance floor ignited with energy few have witnessed and even fewer have been a part of. The fists of hundreds pumped to Marco V's remix of The Killers’ song “Mr. Brightside.” As the final electronic drumbeat echoed through the stadium, fans left feeling more satisfied than they were seven hours before.

- Jason McCoy

Wanna hear a radioshow made about this show? Listen below! (playlist at the end of the post)

My pictures of WWD7


Mr. Brightside - Killers remix Marco V

Cherry Ticker - Luke Hansen
Let the Music - Andy B
Marley-Hammer - VibesquaD

Creepin - EOTO
All that Makes us Human Continues - BT
Stimulated - Marco V

Cuckoo - Tipper
Blue Monday - New Order
Don't You Want Me - Thomas Gold

Camel Bend - EOTO

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