The Best Show of My Life Was at Lights All Night, Right When I'd Lost Hope

Categories: Show Reviews

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Ed Steele
Lights All Night: Capable of curveballs.
Two days, 12 hours in, and I feel like a stuck balloon. No energy drink can pull me from the oppressive blankness that clouds my mind. I lie in a broken, noodle-like mass on the floor outside of the main stage, searching for restful escape in an iPhones' application folder. This is the consequence of Lights All Night, or perhaps more accurately, an EDM overdose. I'm toxic: My blood pumps with all the sexless, whitewashed bacteria of a music that forgot imagination. Techno and IDM never happened, and the furthest historical reference point is Daft Punk's Discovery -- in here that might as well be 2,000 years ago. Put this event down as another dot on the timeline for how dance music became toothless, another point for Radio Disney to be filled with Rebecca Black's "Friday" and all your favorite One Direction bangers.

See also: Slideshow: The People of Lights All Night (NSFW)

Forgive me for being predictable, but the repetition is exhausting. And no, I don't mean in the conventional swaddling, tension-build that represents house/techno music's soul; I refer, instead, to EDM's '1-2-3 bang' crescendos that occur far too often, reducing the music to a series of big reveals that strip away its ability to surprise and inspire. At first, these big bangs are moving, almost shocking, but after 20 or so releases they become mundane, like the way something as poignant as a sunrise becomes commonplace in the face of everyday repetition. What remain are songs that have nothing left up their sleeves, which robs the music of its drama.

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Ed Steele

It's midnight and the only thing that stands between me and escape is a final date with Major Lazer, a set that I have been anticipating all weekend. Still, I'm not convinced I have anything left in the tank for it. I somehow manage to drag myself over to the stage nevertheless. To start, the crowd is amongst the thinnest I've seen all weekend; there are diehard Major Lazer converts speckled throughout, adorned in palpable excitement and telltale merchandise. Everyone else seems a touch confused, perhaps simply as tired as I am.

See also: Beats, Strobes and Shirtlessness: The Best (and Worst) of EDM at Lights All Night 2013

The music begins. Diplo, Jillionare and Walshy Fire appear in the DJ booth landing, Walshy Fire takes up a dangerous post on the landing's highest edge, arms outstretched like Jesus welcoming home his flock. The stage is one mammoth screen that reads "MAJOR LAZER" in tropical colors, several hundred feet wide. Bass permeates the air and the crowd begins to fill as the recognizable Major Lazer animations flood the stage. These THC-colored images have a grandeur that bleed into your headspace, and the result is illogically uplifting, like some blissful dream where you've fallen into the television screen as your favorite music video plays. Seconds, literally only seconds in, and this already surpasses everything that's happened all weekend.



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13 comments
moxpox19
moxpox19

@DFWMusicFan I agree with your first statement.


I think anyone at the DO should be able to review what they want but @jacademic20 (the author) should have put something in the article stating that this isn't his usual type of hang out. It would be much more logical to read it as someone who isn't trying to seem objective. He took an entire festival of 50+ artists and simplified it down to 1. It's easy to see the frustration one would have if they 


@jacademic20 I look forward to reading more of your work. I only hope that with your next piece, you have either some amount of authority or you state in the beginning that you know nothing about the subject or ,in this case, the fans of the subject. There were people in the audience that remember music before the year 2001.


@jacademic20In case you feel the need to ask me one of your condescending questions, I will simplify it for you. You wrote an ignorant article oversimplifying a genre and culture, and poorly reviewing 1 band while calling it a festival. 

DFWMusicFan
DFWMusicFan

You lost hope? You never had hope to begin with. This isn't your scene, or your music.

-If you "overdose" on 'EDM,' this probably isn't your scene bro.
-If you think the music has crescendos that 'occur far too often', this isn't your scene bro.
-And if you consider the music 'mundane', it's definitely not your scene bro.

AND YOU SHOULDN'T BE REVIEWING IT.


Diplo and Major Lazer performed this EXACT SAME SET here in Dallas at the Mad Decent Block Party over the summer. They instructed everyone to remove their shirts. They brought twerking ladies up on the stage. Etc. Etc. But a scene regular would know that because they go to this shit. You don't.

This isn't for you. And the DO should assign reviews of these events to people who actually care about it, not complete amateurs.

jacademic20
jacademic20

So EDM is a music exclusive to one particular demographic?...bummer

DFWMusicFan
DFWMusicFan

@jacademic20 Not what I'm saying at all. I don't like country music, for example. Therefore, if I go to review a country concert, it's going to be through the bias that I already don't like country music. You're not getting a fair review that way.

Someone who doesn't like EDM, reviewing an EDM concert, is giving a flawed review for people who DO like EDM. I don't want a review of any sort of concert from someone who is not a fan of that kind of music.

Vanessa Q. likes hip-hop, so she reviews all the hip-hop stuff at the DO.

Gavin is the barbecue guy.

While I'm sure an article from Gavin on a Kendrick show would be interesting, as would an article from Vanessa on barbecue, it really doesn't help people who are enthusiasts about hip-hop or barbecue, because you're not getting the reviews from the assigned expert. It would be a DISSERVICE.

Jonathan isn't an EDM expert. He doesn't care for the music or the scene, and isn't actively involved with it. Therefore, it's a waste of a review because an actual fan of the music/scene who could not attend LAN this year isn't getting to see it through the lense of someone who DOES care, instead of "look at these weird people, this music bores me."

DFWMusicFan
DFWMusicFan

@jacademic20

So because there's a wider audience, that excuses the quality of the writing? You're telling me out of everyone employed by the DO, there isn't one serious electronica/dance music/edm fan? I don't buy that, which is why I request that they assign the right stories to the right people.

jacademic20
jacademic20

But isnt the DO geared, considerably, more towards popular/public consumption than those publications? After all, this isnt The Wire, or some other such highly specified zine--not that they would go much towards EDM

DFWMusicFan
DFWMusicFan

@jacademic20

You're not confused. It would be sufficient.

However, no, it's not circular. Politics writers at politico.com write about politics for political junkies.

Liberal writers at motherjones.com write about liberal politics for liberal audiences.

Conservative writers at dailycaller.com write about conservative politics for conservative audiences.

All the writers are passionate about their subject matter, whether it's politics in general, or a specific side.

jacademic20
jacademic20

I'm not sure how confident I am about equating a subgenre of dance music to the entire genre of hip hop, much less about the connection between lyrical subject matter and compositional intengrity, but perhaps that's best left for another time. It seems that, as you say (unless I am a confused), that a passion for dance music as a whole would be sufficient. But to clarify, a writer should only write on matters that they are passionate about for an audience that is already passionate about the subject being discussed? Is that correct? A bit circular, goes back to the exclusivity thing, no?

DFWMusicFan
DFWMusicFan

@jacademic20 

You're confusing 'passion' for 'enjoy'. Someone who is passionate about the subject of their critical opinion should review it, e.g. Vanessa is pretty passionate about hip-hop. Gavin's passionate about barbecue.

Not someone who finds it boring or mundane. Generally if one is a writer, you write about subject matter that you like to some extent. Jon walked into this event not liking the subject matter, and ill-equipped to discuss the nuances of the performances and unable to compare them to previous events held by the same artists in the city recently.

Generalizing all EDM is having the same 'bang' sound is just as ridiculous as saying all hip-hop is about guns and crime. Pure bush league.

jacademic20
jacademic20

Furthermore, Vanessa does not cover ALL the hip hop for DO, and she covers a great deal more than that actually, as she should --she is a terrific appreciator of music and a skilled writer. The same goes for Gavin.

jacademic20
jacademic20

So only people who already enjoy the subject of their critical opinion are permitted to comment on it? Seems like a pretty damning bias to me.

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