Identity Festival Does Mansfield…But What Can I Expect?

The official poster for August 20, 2011

In just about a month’s time Identity Festival (ID Fest) will take over the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA for 10 hours of Electronic Dance Music (EDM). ID Fest is the first of its kind: a touring EDM festival. Sure, the U.S. has seen its share of EDM festivals (Ultra Music Festival, Electric Zoo, Electric Daisy Carnival, Electric Forest, etc), but nothing has been arranged quite like this. With its share of “hot right now” artists (I’m looking at you Rusko, Avicii, Kaskade, and Steve Aoki), veterans (DJ Shadow, Booka Shade, and the Crystal Method), and everything in between,  this tour stop is sure to have everything for the EDM fan (well, maybe not EVERYTHING: the bill doesn’t include much representation from genres such as Trance or Moombahton).

When considering what I was going to write about for my preview article I had to first think about what I was expecting from an EDM festival at the Comcast Center, which I have been to countless times – and none of my experiences dealt with DJ sets. Acts I have seen at the Comcast Center include Phish, The Allman Brothers, Dave Matthews Band, Kanye West, and Daft Punk (just kidding). Needless to say, there are several different topics I need to cover in analyzing my overall expectations for ID Fest.

An arial view of the Comcast Center and its mess of a parking situation

Looking at the stage lineups, I plan to hover around the main stage, which will be the traditional pavilion stage where all normal shows take place, and the Dim Mak stage which is named after Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak records. The main stage is clearly the main attraction and general admission (GA) tickets will allow me to roam from as far back as the lawn right up to the seats before the pit. Hopefully the good people at ID Fest will grant us Press Passes so we can bring you an all access review of the day’s events, as well as some interviews with the artists themselves.

This brings me to the actual reason why MMIBTY will be representing at ID Fest: the music. Here are the top 3 artists I’m excited to see:

1.) Avicii – he is THE guy right now. An excellent producer and his DJ skills continue to get better. The crowd loves him and he loves the crowd. After seeing him at the Ocean Club in Quincy, I can only hope he’s going to expand his bag of tricks and bring us more unreleased songs, mashups, and the hottest in House music.
2.)Rusko/Nero – I know, I suck and I gave the #2 slot to two artists. But it’s such a tough call. Every time I see Rusko his set gets better and the bass gets wobblier (if that wasn’t a word already it is now). Out of all the artists at Ultra Music Festival, his was one that stood out the most. He killed it in Boston at the House of Blues and his fan base continues to grow exponentially. His set will be ridiculous. As for Nero, well these guys are one of the driving forces in Dubstep music right now. Along with Rusko, Nero were also a highlight of Ultra. They brought so many Dubstep bangers to the crowd as well as awesome remixes of songs we’ve come to love. Nero will be on the Dim Mak stage so I am crossing my fingers that there will not be a conflict with an act on the main stage. Decisions suck.
3.) DJ Shadow – this veteran is reppin’ the Dim Mak stage and I really really hope his set doesn’t conflict with a main stage headliner. Here’s why: DJ Shadow is an innovator. He is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the first CD produced from ONLY samples. His album Entroducing was masterfully constructed and yes, each song was pieced together with samples. I’ve seen videos of Shadow live and he has an incredible setup with 3 tables worth of turntables, beat pads, synthesizers, and more DJ equipment I don’t even know about. His music trends more towards trip-hop, and away from House, but it should be great to see him after missing his stop in Boston over the winter.

HONORABLE MENTION: Booka Shade –  if you’re into minimal/tech-house, these are the guys to see. I’m not saying they’re pioneers, but they are damn good at what they do and can cook up a funky bassline. I’ve been listening to them for a while because they kept coming up on Pandora, but I’ve never had a chance to catch them live. They will be on the main stage, but given their relative lack of popularity, I can only assume they will be on earlier in the day. They are supposed to be doing a live set as well, which means composing the music right there in front of our faces. Make sure you try to catch this German duo.
HONORABLE MENTION: Kaskade – I had to do it. He’s pretty much the headliner for this whole tour. I don’t love his music because I consider it too sappy for my taste, but girls love his work. Bhanna once told me “Kaskade is good if you’re really horny” and I couldn’t think of a better way to describe his music. So, I’ve avoided seeing him at festivals because another artist is always playing. This time I want to make an effort to catch his set and see his DJ skills live. Consider me as giving him a chance.
HONORABLE MENTION: Chuckie – Honestly, I don’t know a lot about his work, but I’ve seen videos and he’s supposed to be a sick DJ. Because most Dutch DJs kill it 100% of the time, I can only assume he’s gonna throw down and I’m anxious to see what he brings.

My biggest question is this: are the DJs going to be doing anything special for the tour in general or this tour date in particular? Or are they just going to be going through the motions on another tour stop? During festivals like Ultra, Electric Zoo, and EDC, DJs typically pull out all the stops and go as hard as they can. Everyone wants to be the highlight of a festival and for good reason. But is Avicii going to play the same set he played at Ocean Club? Is Rusko going to play a similar set to his Boston stop? Is Kaskade going to play “I Remember” (his hugely popular collaboration with Deadmau5) on repeat the whole time? These are the unknowns. My gut says each tour stop will see relatively similar sets, but in comparing the tour to other shows the artists have played around the U.S. there are sure to be some unexpected treats. Only time can tell…

Here are some tracks I wholeheartedly expect you to hear at ID Fest this August:

Avicii – Fade Into Darkness (Club Mix)
Rusko – Da Cali Anthem
Steve Aoki & Afrojack – No Beef (best version I could find)
Booka Shade  – Body Language (Interpretation)

Nero – Innocence (Feed Me Remix), as made popular on their Essential Mix

Don’t be shy – leave your comments here or email me at [email protected] to talk about your thoughts on ID Fest!