La La Land music festival paints Phoenix in neon colors
Giant inflatable mushrooms, dancing fairies and scores of electronica’s paramount disc jockeys were all present at the La La Land Music Festival held at the Phoenix Convention Center Friday night.
When the doors opened at 4 p.m., a blur of neon fishnets, furry boots and panda hats rushed into the venue where technicolor lights and dubstep awaited them.
Three stages hosted big-ticket names, such as Cosmic Gate, Datsik and Basshunter — all artists who brought their A-game for a crowd that wouldn’t take a breather for the entire eight hours of music mania.
Ravers who became bored with the thumping bass of one artist could walk into the next room and hear the slightly different, yet all-too familiar electric rumble of another DJ. If concertgoers were still bored, a smaller out-door stage conveniently located for a smoke break housed those who needed some fresh air but still wanted to dance.
For the 21 and over crowd, a small fenced-off bar was available in the back of the main Global Arena stage, but alcohol was the last thing on the minds of the high school to college-age audience. The pure adrenaline rush of the electric sounds radiating from the speakers lent energy to the hundreds of pulsating bodies gyrating along to the beat.
Drawing inspiration from the name, La La Land had a mystical carnival quality to it, with unicorns and aliens on stilts, kids draped in strobe lights and glittery-winged dancers. Violet and green lights danced along with the audience, creating a tie-dye haze that encircled the DJ like a protective force field.
Nothing occurred by accident. The brilliant colors and throbbing lights were all strategically placed to entertain the minds of students on break from studying. Gloved performers entertained individuals with their fancy finger work, moving their fingers that were each adorned with a different color of LED light in a captivating pattern.
Light-up gloves weren’t the only mesmerizing feature of the event. The rave subculture has a unique dance style that resembles the moves seen on “Jersey Shore.” Fast-paced arm flailing and stepping to the beat seemed to be the typical dance moves of the evening, with no grinding or head-banging in sight. The most dedicated dancers usually have a furry accessory or glowing ornament attached to them.
After the crowd sufficiently warmed up to the four hours of electromania, Basshunter pulled out his Swedish charm and mixed singles such as, “All I Ever Wanted,” for which the crowd went wild.
By the time Datsik came out, an obvious favorite, the audience was ready for his signature gangster techno, becoming increasingly louder with every dropped bass and stylized voice-over.
The concert itself was somewhat repetitive with a lack of diversity in the artists themselves. It seemed as if La La Land was one continuous DJ set on autopilot, a one-trick pony with few qualities that set the artists apart.
Perhaps it is engrained in the culture of electronica to be uniform — rhythm, pattern and beat are all essential components of techno music. There is a certain element of surprise that listeners look for in dance music, but it seemed to be lacking at this event.
Each artist, an extension of the one that hit the stage before, began to seem like carbon copies of one another, repeating the same crescendo of an intro that hits an exhilarating pause about 40-seconds in, and then cliff dives straight into a heavily mixed beat. Although popular in the '90s, the rave-culture may be losing its luster for millennials, as they realize the monotony of the genre.
Despite the lack of diversity, the La La crowd didn’t seem to mind. What the artists lacked in ingenuity, they made up for with passion. It didn’t matter which DJ was on stage at any given time, the crowd would not stop moving. They were there until the electrifying end around midnight, an early ending for an audience that could have beat out the Energizer Bunny.
Almost 40 artists spread out over three stages in eight hours. Phoenix truly knows how to celebrate its electronic music festivals the right way with neon strobe lights, lots of spandex and nonstop dancing.
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