Concert Reviews

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

Two blocks away from the Dallas Convention Center for Lights All Night, and that rumbling, white noise roar of a crowd pre-concert is already audible.The colossal sonic happenings inside - thousands of feet removed, and buffered by countless layers of stone and steel - vibrate the downtown concrete architecture both overhead and underfoot. Once in sight, the entrance line is a daunting mass, a costumed hoard that represents the ultimate 'camel through the eye of a needle' scenario. What strikes you at first is how reminiscent the general fashion aesthetic is to classic, acid house rave culture: sunglasses, pacifiers, beaded jewelry, extravagant headgear. Although there is a strong MTV, bro-heavy, Spring Breakers flare to the whole scene. Everything is so obviously candied, surface and low-art cheesy that it's vaguely poetic..

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

Inside, the initial impressions are like a punch in the face. This is going to be a wild ride; this place is a circus. The number of people in here alone is cause for breathlessness. As a solidly massive EDM festival, Lights All Night provides an unparalleled sensory overload. At first glance, the stage rooms appear to breathe and swell -- the result of a continual series of crescendo-cued strobe-heavy explosions of lights. The production quality, the merciless synths and the frenzied so-large-it's-anonymous crowd coalesce to create an environment of total, spellbound immersion, all set to an ADD rattled, YOLO-generation species of dance music that's essentially a soundtrack to recreational drug use. LAN allows concertgoers a certain measure of freedom to be what or whomever they want. In virtue of this unspoken rule, there are no people inside LAN, only masked characters, animals and creatures. Point of reference: bikini-clad barely-legals fall into the modest end of this outfit spectrum.

Marijuana smoke hangs in the air like a swampy haze -- halos signifying a thousand heavenly experiences. Delicate tendrils of confetti streamers sway from the ceiling like Technicolor jellyfish swimming overhead. Glowing fluorescents and neon lighting are fireflies painting the dark, framed by triangular shapes of actual spitting fire. Thunderous shockwaves of bass crinkle the air, scuttle down your throat, and then your stomach acid seems to boil. The air is thick and chewy - a vaporous stew of fog machine geysers, pyrotechnic aftermath, and perfumed sprits - so much so that when the spotlights flash the air takes on aqueous shapes, like the whole convention center is, at once, under water. The main stage, dubbed "The Mothership," stands before a sea of dilated pupils, a gyroscope of blinding colors and screaming sounds that spews an impossibly intense current of sensory eruptions. This synesthesiac blare is the real Stargate, and it's swallowing everyone whole. There's a Santa, a Power Ranger, Jesus, and countless half naked people all within five feet of me.