Skrillex and Diplo 'Whip and Nae Nae,' while Odesza plays real instruments at Decadence

It’s not even the new year yet, but my ears are already ringing and my head is pulsing. However, that’s all OK because Decadence day one at Rawhide Western Town in Chandler was #lit.

The EDM fest, hosted by Relentless Beats, brought some heat and big names to the cold tundra that the Arizona desert has turned into this winter. Those featured include Skrillex and Diplo’s Jack Ü, masters of chill Odesza and groove king Pretty Lights.

I walked in during Pegboard Nerds, a group I don’t know too much about, but I want to learn more about them after their set. House revivalist Tchami performed next and set the stage for a highly-anticipated Odesza performance.

And what a breath of fresh air the set was. Switching out the turntables for drums, trombones, bass guitar and other forms of live instrumentation, Odesza powered through songs off their album, “In Return,” to an audience that may not venture much outside a world of bass and trap drops.

So last night was fun #decadenceaz #edm #nye2016

A photo posted by @misterjacobgold on

Pretty Lights was a standout performance, showing why people appreciate the art of DJing with a cruise through the blues of electronic music. One track I managed to pick up on was a mashup of “Animals” by Nine Inch Nails and “Everything In Its Right Place” by Radiohead, giving young ravers a taste of what dance music was like in the early 2000s.

I’ll be honest, there were some artists that I personally didn’t vibe with. Most of them were on the second stage, and maybe that was for a reason. If I have to be a naysayer, I’ll mention 3LAU and Wiwek. Although I respect their success, there’s just not that much there for me to get into.

Wiwek fans love his breed of “jungle terror” music, but to me, it just sounds like a college roommate squeaking away in the bedroom, having sex on a mattress with springs that need to be changed. It was a never ending rhythm that is so high-pitched, I felt like a dog being hit with one of those whistles that only canines can hear.

On the other hand, 3LAU played every song you’ve heard on the radio a thousand times before.  Actually, I don’t think he was even playing it.  He was barely at the decks throughout his set, just jumping around, hogging the mic like a Bar-Mitzvah hype man with one too many drinks in his system.  How was music coming through the speakers?  Could it be, GASP, a pre-recorded set?  That never happens in the EDM world, right?

Thank God for headliners Jack Ü. What a treat it was to see Skrillex and Diplo destroy every other DJ on the decks. The duo used aerial views of their hands on the boards so the audience could see just exactly what was going on, which was a much appreciated touch.

However, for every banger dropped, like “Febreze” and “Jungle Bae,” there was also a “Soulja Boy” or “Watch Me (Whip/NaeNae)” — boring party tracks that easily got the crowd hyped.  It seemed thatveryone was too high off some crazy drug the kids are taking these days to complain about what was really going on.

I’ll be the one to call it like it is.  Jack Ü brought the party, but where do we draw the line on what is an incredible performance and what is just something to get a room full of Molly munchers moving their feet?  

That’s Jack Ü’s act. They’ve essentially been doing the same show for a year now, and while their work with Justin Bieber has brought EDM further into the mainstream than ever before, I can’t help but worry that the genre is becoming less of a cool outlet to hear interesting music and more of a place to hear hits that wouldn’t feel out of place at Mill Avenue’s boring club scene on a Friday night.

Luckily, there are still acts like Odesza that are pushing the limits of the genre. Their performance made me feel like it was my first time at a rave all over again.

Day two of Decadence will feature more high-profile acts including Above & Beyond, Knife Party, Rezz, Borgore and many others. For more information and tickets, click here.


Reach the reporter at jhgolds2@asu.edu or follow @misterjacobgold on Twitter.

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