Identity Festival Gexa Energy Pavilion Friday, August 10
I think the Observer sent me to this in hopes I would feel as out of my element as most aspects of Texas make me feel. No such luck! A European at a large outdoor dance music festival is like a Texan on a hot day: They might not necessarily be comfortable, but they know exactly what the drill is. One of my old housemates used to run an eBay shop that sold glowsticks and whistles. It's just sort of the culture in Europe, especially the "illegal rave" that pops up in a field in the middle of nowhere and goes on until the police shut it down.
Indeed, there are so many people I would casually refer to as ravers, it makes me think of Global Gathering or Creamfields in the UK, or maybe that episode of Spaced where they all go to a nightclub. It was also, in atmosphere, much like Bestival, a multi-genre three-day festival held on an island off the South Coast of the UK, which has a day dedicated to every single festival-goer wearing themed fancy dress. After a few beers too many, a group of ten people all dressed as He-Man start dancing in a circle around you, while Dr. Robotnik crowd-surfs.
Thus, Identity put me in a pretty good mood. Everyone there was determined to have a good time, and were dressed so garishly no one could be taking themselves seriously. The second stage, clumsily inserted into Gexa's parking area, provided some great scenes early on, as Le Castle Vania put on a stormer of a show, which mixed some easily recognizable stuff like Muse and Smashing Pumpkins into a dubstep palette.
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The 8-bit visuals and heavily filtered synth samples are a reminder of the influence of older video game music on the current EDM generation. Porter Robinson, back on the main stage, started getting the bulk of the crowd, as more and more fans filtered in after 5 p.m. He created an atmosphere Wolfgang Gartner took advantage of, as the night drew in and the temperatures finally started to drop. He rarely let the tempo fall, but knew exactly when to put a drop or two in as well. Eric Prydz put it all to bed and sent the crowd into a trance and house set that maybe didn't have the immediacy of the earlier sets, but was more thoughtful and consistent.
Personal bias: I'm not really a big fan of EDM, but the festival atmosphere put me in a great mood, which isn't what I was expecting at all.
One-word review: Wub.