With each passing year, the crowd numbers for Lights All Night has gone through the roof. Two close friends, with careful planning, have created one of the biggest and most intricate New Year’s Eve events in the world. I was fortunate enough to attend only the first of two evenings at LAN for New Year’s Eve in 2011. Opting out of the last half of the festival was a big mistake; all the major acts certainly brought in the new year with a bang. I realized the folly of my actions while watching all the Youtube videos from the previous evening’s celebrations. Granted, the night I went I witnessed Laidback Luke’s amazing mixing skills, Benny Benassi and Gary Go entertaining those in attendance, and Tiesto blowing the roof off The Dallas Convention Center. It was certainly fun, but I yearned for more.
The first LAN in 2010 had 1,700 people in attendance and the following year, crowds swelled to 20,000 over the course of two days. In 2012, LAN obviously had to outperform all the previous years and somehow pull it off successfully. The Dallas Convention Center was the prime spot to host three different stages for 35 artists over two days, but if the festival was to expand, it needed to find a new location. Fair Park, right next to Cotton Bowl Stadium, appeared to be the ideal location to host this massive event with 75+ artists on four different stages over three consecutive nights.
The previous summer of 2011 was supposed to be the year Insomniac Events wowed Texans by bringing their world-renowned Electric Daisy Carnival to the metroplex. Plagued by over selling tickets, horrible planning, and execution, EDC Dallas was a complete and utter failure. Wolfgang Gartner was shamed when many in attendance left due to the air conditioner malfunctioning, making the building a death trap in 104 degree weather. The headlining acts of the evening, including Skrillex, Paul Van Dyk, and Avicii, were shut down 15 minutes into their sets by the fire marshal. Fire alarms went off during their performances to attempt to clear out the over-crowded buildings. When the sirens failed, police threatened to arrest Skrillex if he did not stop his performance. The map of the event that front door attendants gave to the attendees was completely incorrect, forcing everyone to scramble in the last minute at the realization that their desired artist was nowhere in sight. To add insult to injury, there were a lot of hospitalizations and one death that strained the city of Dallas’ resources. Everyone left very disappointed that evening.
As depressing as that is to read about an EDM festival gone wrong, LAN shined brighter than any other part of the world on New Year’s Eve. That is all I am going to lecture about of what went wrong with EDC, so join me as we begin the wonderful journey that is Lights All Night.
To start LAN off, my friend and I quickly headed over to the Main Stage to check out what GRiZ is all about. Truth be told, his album “Mad Liberation” is the only work I have listened to so I had no idea what to expect. GRiZ’s creativity really shines in his album as he samples a few classic songs and vocal parts and meshes them together for some soulful dubstep, (if that even makes sense). Being the first act of the whole event, he certainly brought enough pizazz to entertain all with his wonderful saxophone solos and amazing mixing skills. When he mixed in “Where Is The Love” I literally lost my mind because it was so awesome! Kudos goes to GRiZ for kicking things off!
Alvin Risk followed quickly after GRiZ left main stage, and holy cow did he bring the place down! To put this into perspective for our readers, I was in front of the fences that kept the masses away from the stage and artists. Massive JBL subs were lined up along the length of the stage and were half the height of my own body. Alvin Risk’s onslaught of bass literally vibrated my entire being and reverberated into my soul! Please do not hesitate to see him if he ever comes to town. Alvin knows what he’s doing and he seems to show no sign of stopping.
To my complete amazement at the time, it was already the much awaited moment to see the French prodigy Madeon so we quickly made our way over to the Hanger Stage. Patiently waiting with the rest of the photographers to be let into the front of the stage, I caught a glimpse of Madeon as he made his way up the backside of the stage and gave him a shout of my support. He quickly turned and gave me the biggest smile and waved. My inner fanboy came out and I could not resist jumping up and down, grinning like an idiot! Madeon walked on stage to his turntables to have the bass in his intro track not play; not a good way to start out. Fortunately the crowd had his back and cheered him on and before we all knew it, the bass kicked in and the party got going! I love Madeon’s nu-disco flair in all of his tracks. He certainly mixed as well as he produces music. If you have not even heard of Madeon, please check this kid out! You will not regret it!
Sprinting back to Main Stage, Zedd was in full swing; making the entire tent jump up and down in beautiful unison. The lights and lasers were used very well for his set and augmented the already amazing experience. Jamming out to the music, I came to realize that Zedd has certainly come a long way in his DJ’ing career. My favorite part was when he successfully transferred from One Republic’s “Apologize” to “Million Voices” by Otto Knows. As weird of a combination as that sounds, it was truly spectacular to hear! “Spectrum” was also played to the full enjoyment of the concert-goers; everyone was singing in unison as the lyrics spanned across Main Stage’s massive screens. I cannot wait to see Zedd come back to Dallas!
Jon Gooch aka Feed Me was next on my list for the day and he did not fail to impress. He brought his “A” game and shook the crowd into a dancing frenzy with his iconic tracks. “One Click Headshot” is a great song but it must be heard live! He obviously did not bring his Teeth setup but his little mascot was ever present in the light show.
Avicii’s set time was calling us to go to Main Stage and we joined the throngs of people in the crowd. Not to disappoint Avicii fans, but his set left a lot to be desired. I felt a disconnect with me and the DJ for the first time all day and it was very disheartening. Of course he played his big hits to please the crowd, but I felt like he incorporated way too many bass drops in his song selections. Bass drops are amazing to change up the pace and shake the crowd to their core but it was extremely excessive. As amazing and talented as Avicii is as a producer, I felt like he could have done a lot better job DJ’ing for his fans.
The man of the night was certainly Tiesto as the Main Stage tent was packed beyond belief! In typical Tiesto fashion, he read the crowd with the utmost precision and even made the stone-cold gaze of the security guards fade away as they danced merrily with the audience. For the fans of his older trance style, he even threw in “Traffic” and “Adagio For Strings” for good measure. Despite seeing Tiesto perform twice in my life, I had never heard him play those early songs on stage before. If you are a fan of his, you are doing yourself a disservice by not attending his live shows whenever he comes to a local town near you. As much as I wanted to see his full set, there were two more artists I needed to see to finish off day one.
Flux Pavilion tore the roof off of the Hanger Stage. Simple as that. See this man live or you will most certainly regret it!
Mord Fustang was the last act of the evening and I had actually not attended any artist at The Club stage. Thinking of the prospect of seeing Mord in action would have got me riled up enough, but the stage he performed at was simply astounding. Reminiscent of something from Daft Punk’s pyramid stage of legend, this geometrically inspired set up was a two story cube emanating a gorgeous laser-light show to greet any festival goer. As impressive as the stage was, Mord certainly left me and the crowd wanting more. It was by no means an Avicii fiasco but it appeared that he could not get his audience going. His song selection and transfers were alright but he needs to show a little more enthusiasm for his fans that decided to skip out on Flux and Tiesto.
Feeling sore from the previous day, I did not let my fatigue affect me for Adventure Club. Never hearing a live set of theirs, I was extremely excited to see what Leighton James, (Christian Srigley was not present) would do for his Texan crowd. Bass rattled throughout the massive Main Stage tent when he threw down “Youth” featuring the lovely vocals from Foxes. This Canadian duo certainly have something going on and I doubt they shall fade into obscurity anytime soon!
Up next was Tommy Trash and he certainly did not disappoint anyone with his performance. His Grammy nominated remix of Deadmau5′ “The Veldt” was off the charts and the crowd danced for joy at the happy vibe against a dark lyrical backdrop. Everyone could tell Tommy was having a great time too; his hair was all over the place while jamming out to the beat!
Bingo Players were in our sights at the Hanger and we gyrated ourselves silly to “Rattle.” I really enjoyed their high-energy show and I wish them a bright future!
Quickly as possible, my partner-in-crime and I ran back to Main Stage to see what the legendary A-Trak was all about. In sharp contrast to many DJ’s at this weekend’s events, A-Trak was the only person to actually show off his scratching skills to the public and he threw it down hard! The only way I can truly describe his show is with one word: epic. As simple as it sounds, that is the only word in my vocabulary that can appropriately describe what I witnessed. For added fun, (as if A-Trak needed any help) he had a great hype man with him to keep the crowd entertained.
At the monster cube stage, (The Club) Otto Knows threw on a great performance and allowed my buddies and I to recuperate and grab a drink and a bite to eat at the food court nearby. As great as he was, Calvin Harris was on my mind more than anything.
The Creator of Disco succeeded at doing what disco was meant for: dancing. Smoke and confetti sprayed everywhere for a couple of his big songs and the colorful glow of streamers looked gorgeous against the Main Stage’s lights. Calvin Harris has definitely gone mainstream with his big radio singles as of late, but he has not forgotten the fans that got him there. As much as I hate sounding like a hipster, I have been listening to him from the start of his career in music and I have been enjoying every twist and turn he has taken me on. The man is certainly a crowd pleaser and he has come a long way from being the bedroom producer he was to the super star DJ he is today!
Nearly teleporting to the Hanger Stage, we were soon enough face to face with Zeds Dead. This dastardly duo’s dirty basslines and chord progressions rocked the massive crowd into submission. They literally owned everyone in attendance and had their way with the throngs of people. Musically that is!
Meeting up with some other friends at Main Stage, we witnessed the madness that is Bassnectar. I’m not particularly a fan of his, but his set was so hard and so dirty, I cannot legally describe what ensued. It was pandemonium; in a good way. He never once let the audience catch their breath and the light show made the spectacle all the more alluring. I was not at all prepared for this kind of insanity! After thirty minutes of his set, my buddy and I decided to mellow out with some Alesso over at the Hanger. Unfortunately my senses were fried and I could not fully appreciate the good show Alesso was putting on. At that point, we decided to rest up for the final day of the festival.
Day Three: New Years Eve
Krewella provided an excellent pick-me-up to start off the final day. It was an absolute blast to hear Rain Man and the gorgeous sisters Jahan and Yamine perform. Their beautiful vocals echoed throughout the massive tent and before we knew what hit us, it was time for the next performer.
Sander Van Doorn followed Krewella in high fashion and turned the Main Stage into Progressive House central. Just the first fifteen minutes alone was good enough for me as my friend and I had to make our way over to see Figure perform at the Hanger.
As if running to the new stage was not exercise enough, Figure certainly put the pedal to the metal with his non-stop dance-a-thon. His graphics and animations were an excellent addition to the already amazing set.
Ghostland Observatory, native Texans, have become a staple of LAN since the very first event was held in 2010. The singer and guitarist Aaron Behrens ran up and down stage singing their crowd favorite songs while Thomas Turner build up the pace on the drums. An excellent alternative to the vast list of DJ’s, Ghostland Observatory was the perfect change of pace for the evening. Check out their music for a good time!
In sharp contrast to Ghostland, the mighty Diplo jumped onto the turntables and threw out some amazing moombahton tunes as well as some excellent trap songs. Never truly experiencing moombahton live before, it was certainly a treat to have the slower yet upbeat tempo change of this genre. The crowd was simply going off the wall for Diplo. The man is a great guy and he even let my best friend and I snap a picture of the three of us backstage as he was leaving!
12th Planet was the next artist on our ever-dwindling list of talent to see before midnight. Exciting, energetic, and grimey is the best way I can describe his show. Flames obscured his silhouette on stage as the beat dropped many times in his set. The heatwaves shot out across the countless faces in the crowd, many welcoming this newly found warmth since they have just escaped the cold from outside. 12th Planet, keep the good showmanship up keep doing what your doing!
The moment of truth was upon us; the final act of this amazing festival was about to bring in the New Year with a bang. Joseph Ray of Nero walked on stage, to much applause from the audience, and began to craft his set into a wonderful symphony of heavy bass. This guy certainly knows how to entertain his fans and kept everyone going on through the night. Even through all of the twist and turns of his set, nothing could possibly prepare us for the final countdown. In unison, the elated crowd chanted the numbers that were showing up on stage. As the clock struck midnight, confetti shot out, balloons were released overhead, and cheers from everyone around roared as 2013 was finally here. “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen played as friends and strangers alike sang along for this glorious occasion. Finishing up an amazing evening thirty past midnight, Joseph Ray said farewell and we all parted ways to enjoy the new year together.
Learning from Insomniac Events’ mistakes, LAN pulled off their first year at Fair Park with amazing precision. The stage designs, layouts, and talent certainly made this festival, but my applause goes to the hardworking staff that made such a massive event possible. The numbers are still coming in, but around 50,000 people showed up over the course of three days. EDC’s organizers should certainly be taking notes at what LAN did in Dallas. I am truly blessed to have gone to such an awesome event with my assistant and friend, Ryan. Much thanks goes to David Marek and Danielle for helping the press out over the course of the weekend. Whatever I say cannot grasp the full scope of how amazing this New Year’s Eve Festival was. Please do not miss out on Lights All Night next year because the show has been getting better with every progressive year. You simply had to have been there!
More photos of the entire event will be uploaded to Your EDM’s Facebook soon!