The performance of Hardwell, a world-renowned DJ, at the Sands Event Center, was something to behold.
Jammed with college kids, and, inexplicably, teens with their parents, the entire venue brimmed with unbridled hedonism and neon colors before Hardwell dropped the first beat. There are a lot of naysayers of the culture of EDM out there, and partially for good reason. You’ve got people like Calvin Harris making $300,000 a night, according to a New Yorker article last year, while actual live performers are getting paid a hell of a lot less. Anthony Bourdain , in Sunday night’s episode of his CNN show Parts Unknown, jumped on the bandwagon, saying, “It’s a DJ’s world, and where once they used to say, ‘Cocaine is god’s way of saying you have too much money, now, maybe EDM is.’” Be that as it may, those with apparently too much money were out in force at the Sands, selling out the venue.
Most casual observers of electronic dance music will tell you that the live shows are about the *experience* rather than seeing someone press buttons on a laptop. One would hope so, because otherwise these shows would get pretty boring. In an arena filled with guys in superman costumes, people who apparently had Hunter S. Thompson amounts of drugs in their systems, and beers flowing freely, an over-stimulating light show seems only natural. And you know what? It was fun.
I’m on the verge of turning 26, and after going to many, many shows and seeing many, many things at said shows, my first inclination after observing the crowd at the Sands was to say, “Maybe I’m too old for this shit.” It was around that point that some guy at least 10 years my senior started screaming at me to take his picture because, “it’s my fuckin’ birthday man!” He was having the time of his life, and soon I realized I was having fun myself.
Hardwell’s set ranged from glitch to trip hop, littering his set with more popular hits that even non-ravers might appreciate. The light show was spectacular, and added a heavy dose of atmospherics that was sorely lacking during the opening acts. While Hardwell’s set was unpolished in parts, it made it unique enough that the entire show wasn’t just a premade mixtape. Hardwell delivered exactly what you’d expect from a top DJ these days: a huge, loud party replete with lasers, confetti cannons, and pulsating lights. While the music wasn’t as technically as impressive as say Girl Talk or RJD2, it provided enough pop hits to satiate the radio crowd and enough experimenting to satisfy the techno nerds. And most of all? It was a damn fun time.