Meltdown Festival: The Best and the Worst of Dance Music and Culture

Categories: Festivals

Candy land.jpg
Photo by Lee Escobedo
The moment I became a believer came at 9:45 pm. The sticky, simmering sun had long since lowered, giving way to a clear night filled with cool gusts of wind. I had just sat through a few horrible sets at the Phoenix Rising Stage, deflated at how the festival had seemed to cater to the young, demographic that was more rooted in the genres histrionics than history.

Which is why the sound of Chicago house coming from Morgan Page's set at the Meltdown Main Stage was a welcome invitation. I made my way to the crowd, which was now almost at full strength, when I noticed a crack in the fence leading backstage. I made my way inside, flashed my wristband to a security guard and made my way up to the stage. As I walked up the steps, I saw for the first time, what the DJ sees as he looks out at the sea of people, controlling the tide with their magnetism.

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Page, without the pulp celebrity status belonging to Skrillex or David Guetta, had these kids entranced. Not in a Beatlesmania, cultish purge, but as a reaction to Page utilizing electronic music's greatest utility: expressing our rawest emotions through sounds, where words fail.

But let me rewind, because before this moment, I saw an EDM culture I want nothing to do with. DJs and production duos are playing on tropes of drug-culture, masculinity and "teenage dream." Bro Safari, Adventure Club and holy shit, Candyland are signifiers for the young, dumb and horny crowd.

Candyland in particular, performing on the Phoenix Rising Stage, put on an absolutely terrible set. The crux went like this:

Darude- "Sandstorm"
J Kwon-"Tipsy"
Coolio -"Gangster's Paradise"
Lil John- "Snap Yo Fingers"
Nelly- "It's Getting Hot in Herre"

Mind you, some were incompetent remixes, others originals. The crowd, a few hundred, ate it up, hoola-hooping, twerking and break dancing in fur boots to the beat. Never mind that the DJs stopped after every other song to plug a new song or website.

It made me wonder if the near future will see this current scene implode. The climate is becoming increasingly difficult to make a name for yourself using your, well, name. There's millions being pumped into the industry, and with Meltdown concert tickets going for $85, when will the economic climate reach the scene? How much longer can DJs demand astronomical set fees while the 20-year-old median market of last weekend's event (judged from the numbers of X'ed hands) continues paying up, while the market goes down?

Which brings me back to Page's set. I decided to stop thinking and join the party. It's hard not to get caught up in the feeling when it's done right.

Justice took the stage to Richard Strauss' "Thus Spoke Zarathustra," causing a new friend to remark, "All this other Dubstep, this Trap shit, this is why I'm here. This is the heart and soul of electronic music. These kids are confused right now."

And she had a point. The break-dancing and twerking of previous sets had no place here. The French duo came to take us to church. With each buildup the L- Acoustic stadium line K1 array sound system sent shivers down my spine. A representative for the company in charge of sound, Onstage Systems, called it "the best sound system in the world, hands down." No question.

Mekt4.jpg
Photo by Lee Escobedo

So, how badass was Justice's set? Morgan Page was taking video. With the entire crowd in attendance, I couldn't help but become part of the energy and let myself go. Although I had major quips with the festival and its attendees, Justice proved to be its saving grace, with a baptism of brutal beats and bass.

How badass was Justice's set, for real? The cop performing security on-stage was taking video. The experience was summed up halfway through the set when the cop turned to me to ask, "Is this the headliner?"

"Yea, this is who everyone came to see," I replied.

"What's their name?" he asked.

"Justice," I quipped.

"Great name," he said, grinning.

Critic's Notebook:

Shirt Sighting: Party With Sluts

Overheard: : "Margaritas make me so horny," - Twenty-something telling a table of friends in VIP.

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4 comments
Swankswag
Swankswag

This is a poorly written article. The author seems to not know anything about electronic music. Morgan Page is not Chicago house at all. Big mistake! Also Bro Safari has been a huge pioneer and advocate of new genres of electronic music. He has also been producing music for a long time and just so happens to live in Texas and plays out alot.  So he is definitely not a "signifier for the young, dumb and horny crowd". I doubt the author new these facts.  I also suspect this guy had only heard of Justice before he showed up to the festival. Perhaps he didn't want to cover this event in the first place because he doesn't listen to electronic music. I also Xavier did not wear  a shirt that said "We're excited to be in Texas, we've had a good time for sure". Another big mistake further proving my argument! This reflects badly on The Observer. 

Canyouevendiplo
Canyouevendiplo

Also please never attend a rave in the area again if all you're gonna write about how stupid the shows were. Obviously these events aren't for you so just go back to the senior center.

Canyouevendiplo
Canyouevendiplo

Dude Bro Safari had the best set all night who the hell are you to say his set is for dumb, horny people? Justice's set was so boring. It caters to you old folks who don't know how to have fun. Get off your high horse.

djredeyedallas
djredeyedallas like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

whoever told you Morgan Page was Chicago house needs to be dragged out by their toenails and beaten down with the records of actual Chicago house producers. He's about as Chicago house as Insane Clown Posse. No dis to you or fans of Morgans, but you have been horribly, horribly, HORRIBLY misinformed. Once again, not dissin, just saying.....no, it's not Chicago house. Not at all. Outside of a 4/4 beat, there isn't a shred of similarity. Im sure if you asked him personally he would tell you the same thing.

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