Last Night: Identity Festival at Gexa Energy Pavilion

Identity Festival
Gexa Energy Pavilion
August 29, 2011

Better than: sneaking a flask and some glowsticks into a movie theater to watch The Electric Daisy Carnival Experience.

Last night, the Identity Festival, billed as the first-ever touring festival exclusively featuring electronic dance music artists, stopped at the Gexa Energy Pavilion in Fair Park. 

Festival mogul John Reese -- who's had his hand in creating both the Rockstar Mayhem Festival and the Taste of Chaos tour -- is behind Identity, and superstar DJs Kaskade and Steve Aoki helped him select the bill. It's a big offering, hitting 20 cities across the nation in about a month's time.

But, considering all the media attention surrounding the EDM scene's troubles of late, there's been some speculation: Sure, Identity is the first touring festival of its kind, but will it also be the last?

Well, if other cities are half as calm as Dallas was last night, expect it to be the first of many to come.

Empty beer cans, water bottles and energy drink containers were scattered across the nearly-full Fair Park parking lot, as security guards and cops barricaded the entrance, performing standard ID and bag checks.

Just past the security check point, though, the world exploded in neon. And if you weren't wearing any, you could buy some: There were merchant tents set up selling everything from sunglasses, jewelry and art and underwear, food and booze.

Kids scurried around in their neon, Day-Glo outfits -- most girls wearing nothing more than a bra, bikini or underwear, and those boots that look like a My Little Pony did the nasty with a pair of Ugg boots.

"They're called fuzzies or fluffies," explained a young girl sporting a navy blue pair and not much else. "You can get them at Electric Boutique or online."

Three stages were set up for the performers -- the main stage, the Dim Mak stage and the Advent stage.

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The main stage was the only space that provided shade, residing in Gexa Energy Pavilion's main performance space. The other stages were shade-less and seat-less, located on cement landings just inside the venue gate.

At 5 p.m., during the peak heat of the day, Booka Shade played the main stage to a fairly energetic crowd, the pit was packed full of dancing tween and young adults, and the seats provided a rest stop for many sweat-drenched bodies. At the same time, RioTGeaR played the Advent stage (basically a sweltering slab of concrete) to just one enthusiastic fan. And, despite the heat, The Crystal Method drew a sizable crowd to the equally scorching Dim Mak Stage.

"This heat is absolutely ridiculous" Paul Daly of FIGO said later in the evening.

He was right: With temperatures in the hundreds, it was miraculous the all-day festival was able to draw a crowd at all.

One sun-kissed Dallas police officer standing guard at the entrance said the audience was "a quiet crowd." He hadn't worked the Electric Daisy Carnival in June, but explained, "We upped the security and medical on this. We added more water stations and ambulances."

The precautionary measures were comforting, and may have worked: Early in the evening, the medical tent was empty, the exception being a lone medical staffer nibbling on a sandwich.

"It's good to see people in here" he joked upon my arrival. "We haven't seen anybody yet."

All in all, it was a rather low-key affair, for which last-minute tickets were clearly still available. In between high-energy bursts of dancing and shrieks for artists, the crowd was subdued and even drained. Once the music stopped, so did all clamor.

Still, crowds continued to stream in to the park as the sun set behind the brightly lit Dim Mak stage. At around 8 p.m., Dim Mak label owner and hipster DJ of the Universe, Steve Aoki took the stage.

The temperature had started to drop. Finally, the audiences were willing to start dancing. And so they did, into the night.

Critic's Notebook
Personal bias:
I enjoy EDM. A lot!

By the way: Sorry to tell all the people who paid $10, $7 or even just $5 to park in those people's yards across the street from Fair Park, but parking for Identity Festival was free. Yes, that's right. Free!

Check out some more photos after the jump!

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