Identity Festival Wrap-Up: MA & NY

Eric Prydz taking his crowd to another planet in Mansfield, MA

Mansfield Photo Gallery (photo credit: Ryan Wiklund) | Jones Beach Photo Gallery (photo credit: bhanna)

At the time we’re writing this, Identity Festival (ID) in New England and New York has already taken place two weeks ago. There are only five dates remaining, all in the south-western states of Arizona, California, and Texas. This post begs the question: where the FUCK has the summer gone? The dog days are not over YET, but with Electric Zoo looming just weeks away as the unofficial end to Summer, it’s pretty scary how things have progressed so quickly. What’s more amazing is how quickly the day went by on July 26th – the Thursday that Identity dropped into the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA. If you read our preview of the second year of Identity, or if you knew what electronic dance music was last year, you’d know that a lot has changed with ID from 2011 to 2012. Our experiences were a lot different this year, beyond the music.

Click through to hear more about the selected dates and to watch our interviews

Just like any other show at Mansfield’s Comcast Center, the day began in the parking lots with some tailgating fun in the sun. There was no shortage of beats coming from all angles, whether it was the Rockstar Energy Stage where we heard acts like J Devil and Stephan Jacobs, our parking lot neighbors with blasting sound systems, or the make-shift pre-party complete with DJs and tents. What was supposed to be a stormy day turned into a hot and sunny one and all vibes seemed to be positive.

Upon getting inside, we headed to the tour buses for an interview with Dutch duo Showtek (above). Sjoerd and Wouter Janssen (AKA Walt Jenssen & Duro) were really nice guys and as you can see from the video they had tons to say. They’re really excited to be part of the more mainstream EDM culture in America and it seems they’re hoping to break out a lot more with their new sounds of House and Electro-House.

After the interview our crew scattered about to catch some of the local acts such as our friend Joe Bermudez, but we also made sure to check out the main stage with Le Castle Vania who was just throwing down banger after banger. A couple of Showtek’s tunes included their hit “Hell Yeah” and Hard Rock Sofa’s “Quasar“. After some time with Showtek we headed over to see Russian prodigy Arty. We had received word he was running late due to our scheduled interview, and his performance showed that could have been affected by it. He noticeably messed up in a few spots, but still managed to put on  a great show with songs like “Sun and Moon” by Above & Beyond, a slew of Arty songs including his remix of “Walking Alone” by Dirty South, his songs “Open Space” and “Rebound” as well as some crowd favorites in Tiesto’s “Maximal Crazy” and Porter Robinson’s “Language“.

The highlights of the day undoubtedly came with Wolfgang Gartner and Eric Prydz closing out the night on the main stage. Wolfgang’s set, as always, was killer. It was a pure party and he hardly ever let the beat stop. Playing a mix of his own tunes (Flexx, Space Junk, Devil’s Den, There and Back, Undertaker) and other artists’ tracks (Sending My Love, Insomnia, Hoes and Discos), he literally kept me moving the whole time. He also played a lot of tracks I didn’t recognize which is always a good sign to me during  a DJ set, when so many DJs are all playing the same songs. I also liked how Wolfgang played a different set than his Spring Awakening performance.

After Wolfgang came Eric Prydz and let me just say: Ho. Ly. Shit. This dude took me to a whole different planet. I’ve never heard the sound at Comcast so loud. Between the pulsating bass, the on-stage light show, and flawless mixing of tracks, Prydz had the most unique set all day and perhaps the most unique DJ set I’ve ever seen. Based on his AMAZING Pryda album (get the deluxe edition if you haven’t yet), I knew what to expect, but seeing it live was a whole different story.  For a mostly complete tracklist and grainy video, go HERE. My point is, regardless of your musical preferences, you NEED to see Eric Prydz live at some point. But between Wolfgang Gartner and Eric Prydz alone, the festival was worth the price of admission. I hope to see it return next year and for years to come. But maybe they need to create an age limit because there were WAY too many teenie boppers there…

The Jones Beach date certainly presented its challenges, but that didn’t stop the packed crowd of excited girls and boys who came out. The day started with the threat of heavy thunderstorms looming and, with the venue right on the water, that would not have been a good thing. Luckily, the skies only let out a short drizzle before opening up to what turned into a beautiful evening. Another challenge was the complete lack of alcohol sales on the premises, which certainly prompted us to get fully lubricated before heading in along with the rest of the neon sea of tailgaters. Right off the bat, I got to catch some of Le Castle Vania‘s set, who was making a name for himself to a crowd who I very much doubt knew who he was beforehand. He threw down a heady set of electro, which started my day off right, before I headed over to see Arty. Arty held his own and, while he played a good set, didn’t hold my attention nearly as much as he did at Spring Awakening in Chicago. Shortly after followed Showtek, who was an interesting choice for a mainstream EDM festival considering their roots in “hardstyle” – a more techno and very European-sounding style of music characterized by heavy, pounding bass and lacking in melodic tendencies. Their recent collaboration with Tiesto “Hell Yeah” was an indication that they had switched up their sound to more of a house-based beat, and the way they drove the crowd wild certainly took influences from both their hardstyle days and their newer work. The handheld nitrogen cannon was a very nice touch. Finally, the main event Eric Prydz took the stage and I was just as awed as I figured I’d be. His set was much like a journey, slowly building over an hour or so from something so understated to massive house beats. The whole thing was mesmerizing. Of course I had to go check out Madeon though and was glad I did, because after such an emotionally-driven set from Prydz, it was nice to dance around to some of the finest onstage dance mashups I’ve ever heard. The day was short, the crowd was young, but overall Identity Festival provided the same experience it provided me with last year: an opportunity to see several artists I’d never had the chance to see before and learn about how their live shows worked together as part of a larger tour. Next year, though, I hope they bring back Kaskade.