Words by: Dennis Cook | Images by: Casey Flanigan
IDentity Festival :: 09.03.11 :: Shoreline Amphitheatre :: Mountain View, CA
Full gallery is directly below this review!
If throbbing bass, gnarly dubstep, ferocious house and other tributaries of modern dance music make your widdle heart go pitty-pat, then the IDentity Festival is your must-experience roaming carnival. While a bit of a stranger in a strange land as a middle aged, grey haired interloper, the sheer amount of stimulation – musical, fleshy, visual – was still intoxicating, and there’s no escaping the sense one is surfing the warbling, ADD-riddled edge of today’s young America at this gathering.
|Kaskade @ IDentity Fest by Casey Flanigan|
Once inside the gates, an atmosphere of free spirited, loose limbed revelry reigned. Most had put thought into their ensembles, skimpy as they might have been, as they worked their bodies into beautifully sweaty messes. This music is about liberation, a jolt to the senses built on pulsating, orgasmic builds and releases, a never-ending series of rushes and explosions strung together by momentary calm, a thing more feminine than male in character, pleasure prolonged rather than one big pop. If all this seems overly sexual, I can assure you the pheromone rich environment conjured by these performers and this particular audience was heady – one had little doubt that post-concert boinking was going to be widespread.
The volume and artful pummel of this music sort of tenderized everyone, whether they were shaking what mama gave them or not. This isn’t stuff that waits for someone to pay attention; it throws a muscular arm around anyone in earshot and demands a reaction. While the untrained listener (namely, me) has a bit of trouble distinguishing between one DJ and another – the last time I paid real attention and got my fingers dirty crate diggin’ was in the 90s when drum ‘n’ bass and downtempo were new things – there was no doubting that the assembled lineup at IDentity was pretty much the cream of today’s budding electronica/DJ scene.
|Bisco's Brownstein @ IDentity Fest by Casey Flanigan|
These artists know how to motivate a crowd, right down to gimmicky tricks that would put a smile on KISS’ painted faces like Crystal Method's smoke cannon and Kaskade's metallic confetti storm. And it was nice to see a proper band, The Disco Biscuits, create tone-perfect music in real time with traditional instruments – whatever “jam” roots TDB once had are pretty withered as this point; this is a top flight modern music band that played up the “disco” in their name well at Shoreline.
However, much of the stage craft was limited to a dude or two twisting knobs and inciting people to raise their hands in the air (the “not caring” is generally implied), so small touches helped in entertainment area. The flashing, animation and found footage heavy video backing for every act kept things interesting for those not experiencing their own personal color shifts. It’s clear these acts are beginning to understand the need to put on a show a bit more than in the past, and it’ll be interesting to see how this develops as this music fills up stadiums and sheds around the country. The challenge of playing to big audiences is already well known in this scene but it’s only going to be better for all involved if more technology and plain old showmanship is used to create impact in huge spaces like Shoreline.
Only two more dates remain on the inaugural IDentity tour – Saturday, September 10 at The Gorge in George, WA, and Friday, September 30 at Klipsch Amphitheatre in Miami, FL – but this has the makings of an annual keeper.
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