Better Than... cramming among the sweaty masses of a typical EDM festival tent in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the man behind the podium.
If you brought your own glow sticks into the Kaskade concert at Staples Center last night, you were out of luck. Walking into the venue was like visiting a high security prison. First, there was the pat down (my friend who accompanied me to the show was "pretty sure" they touched his balls). Then there was the trashcan where all glowing devices were tossed. Once past the metal detectors, though, we were in a sea of neon, tutus, rainbow, and
Monster Rockstar Energy drink butterfly cardboard cutout masks.
As fans piled into their seats, anticipation built. Around 9:15 the lights dimmed, fog machines puffed and a screen boasting a "Freaks of Nature" butterfly silhouette appeared. The instrumental intro to "Eyes" revved up and the curtain fell as Mindy Gledhill's vocals introduced the evening. The bass dropped, the crowd went crazy, and Kaskade emerged wildly waving his fist in the air and chanting, "Come on L.A.!"
The DJ took his sold-out audience through an evening of energetic tracks such as "Lessons in Love" (on which he collaborated with Neon Trees), tossed out neon beach balls during "It's You It's Me" off his 2006 release Here & Now, and turned down the sound to allow the crowd to sing along to "Angel On My Shoulder." He played "No One Knows Who We Are," which he explained was a brand new track.
Kaskade's mention of his Freaks of Nature tour being his "boldest move yet" was reinforced by the show's epic lighting and cutting-edge visuals. Giant screens hung behind him and on either side of the stage, and one was built into the podium. Graphics also flashed around the many JumboTron screens and scrolled around the entire upper level of the venue at various points throughout the evening. Flowers bloomed across the stage, a forest appeared, we were taken through a bustling cityscape during "Raining" and animal constellations popped up in the sky as "Stars Troll" played. There were high tech lasers that flashed across the length of the venue, bubbles that trickled down upon the audience and a full-on confetti shower.
Kaskade introduced "I'll Never Dream (I'm in Love)" by telling the audience, "This one's for you. I played this one in 2010 at EDC and it's never been the same since. I love you guys!" "I'm in Love" scrolled across the venue as all eyes were on a breakdancer in the aisle who was being cheered on by thousands. The camera zoned in on Kaskade who was belting out the lyrics to his songs and obviously overflowing with a love for the noise he was creating. He climbed down from his tables to show the audience his gratitude, and fans showed their appreciate by chucking their smuggled glow bracelets onto the stage. The set ended with an encore rendition of "I Remember."
The first thing we spotted walking out of the venue was an entire block filled with ambulances and EMTs tending to those who partied a little too hard. Thankfully, there were no riots or rubber bullets and everyone -- even those who may not remember anything this morning -- appeared to have a great time.
Personal Bias: It's been a long week and I was ready to dance, even if it meant bruising the back of my legs from continuously colliding with my chair in the small wiggle room my stadium style seat allowed for.
The Crowd: All over the place -- everything from the typical neon-clothed, fuzzy boots-wearing, glow stick-clutching ravers, to children sitting on parents' shoulders, and an old hippie in pajama pants that maintained the same dance move throughout the entire two-hour set.
Random notebook dump: Kaskade fans seemed as into taking pictures of themselves as they were into the show. The girls in front of me had a full-on photo shoot -- standing up, sitting down, holding a beach ball that passed by, pushing their boobs together to appear as beach balls, passing around a glow stick, hugging each other, contesting for the freakiest dance move. It really became a show within a show.
Set list below.
Eyes [Swanky Tunes Remix]
Be Still [A cappella] / Ladi Dadi [Tommy Trash Remix] [Kaskade's Freaks of Nature Mash-Up] (Steve Aoki cover)
Room for Happiness [Gregori Klosman Remix]
Stars Troll [Kaskade Mash-Up] (Qulinez cover)
All You Paris [Kaskade Mash-Up] (David Guetta cover)
Fire in Your Antidote [Kaskade Mash-Up] (Swedish House Mafia vs. Knife Party cover)
Empty Streets Cascade [Kaskade Mash-Up] (Tommy Trash cover)
Angel on My Shoulder [A cappella]
What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger) [Nicky Romero Club Mix] (Kelly Clarkson cover)
No One Knows Who We Are (working title; brand new, unreleased track)
4 A.M. Quasar [Kaskade Mash-Up] (Hard Rock Sofa cover)
Don't Stop Hells Bells [Kaskade Mash-Up] (Albin Myers cover)
Llove [Dada Life Remix]
Lessons in Love [Headhunterz Remix]
Lessons in Love
Call Out Epic [Kaskade Mash-Up] (Sandro Silva & Quintino cover)
It's You, It's Hertz [Kaskade Mash-Up] (Deniz Koyu cover)
Move for the Legend [Kaskade Mash-Up] (Swanky Tunes, Matisse & Sadko cover)
Turn It Down [Deniz Koyu Remix] / Toulouse [Kaskade Mash-Up] (Nicky Romero cover)
Invisible / FiveAM [Thomas Sagstad Remix] [Kaskade Mash-Up] (Carl Louis & Martin Danielle cover)
Dynasty [Dada Life Mix] / Noise [Kaskade Mash-Up] (Dada Life cover)
Raining [dance.love Edit]
How Long Allein [Kaskade Mash-Up] (Pryda cover)
I'll Never Dream I'm in Love [Kaskade Mash-Up] (Alex Gaudino cover)
I Remember [Strobelite Edit]