Kaskade headlined his Freaks of Nature tour at a sold out Bill Graham Auditorium on Saturday night, a few days after becoming the first DJ to do the same at the famous (and massive, about 20,000 people for a concert) Staples Center in Los Angeles.
This is the Orange County DJ’s biggest tour to date, and he did it big indeed. The production wasn’t the most unique, but still slick and shiny, especially when a couple dozen giant orbs of colorful lights fell from the ceiling during the last minutes of his set.
The people were dancing and the drinks were flowing, as they should be, but something was off.
The mix and music during the 41-year-old producer’s set was formulaic and predictable. Intense peaks were split by calm bridges of softened beats touched up by female vocals, and that was about it for almost two hours. No crazy surprises, no big flubs.
Any music genre can reach points of artistic stagnation, and for electronic tunes that time may have come. The cycle of rises and drops, the synchronized lights, the DJ pointing his index finger in the air – it has all become very standard. Speaking in terms of fan growth it’s not quite maxed out, as his landmark show suggests, but it’s certainly getting near that sealing.
And it’s not Kaskade’s fault, it’s just a natural course of events in the music industry and we happen to be at that point. It goes a little something like this:
- Obscure music genre rises up from artistic and experimental roots.
- Music genre spreads via word of mouth and the internet (which has replaced radio and television in this cycle) and ends up in the hands of mainstream and corporate interests.
- The genre is then swarmed upon like high school kids at a suburban house party.
- It’s a raging success for a little bit, but the spot’s blown up and the fun police will be there shortly.
Of course, the artists themselves become successful, which isn’t a bad thing, but the side effects of a flaccid moment in music can be. Those artists get lazy once the money comes, they get busy and burnt out on tour, they get famous and enter unhealthy relationships, or get corralled by major labels.
It’s not always the same story, but look at punk or metal in the ’80s, the groovy tunes of the ’60s, or even the general commercialization of hip hop. The uniqueness is rinsed out in over saturation. The music and the scene become a giant plastic model of what it used to be, and all the insides are hollow.
Welcome to the current state of EDM. It may have hit electronic music faster than other genre’s (it’s one of the first to be raised on the hyper speed of the internet), but the DJ’s – and the fans and media – are feeding the machine and it’s now too obese to keep a healthy metabolism.
Kaskade’s performance was the beginning signal of that “getting a little too full to move feeling,” and that’s a shame. Nothing against the producer, it’s just that the pendulum of artistic expression may have started its swing back the other way.