Life In Color has come a long way from its humble beginnings in the early 2000s. From high school parties to massive raves, Committee Entertainment took the paint party-concert experience once known as Dayglow to new heights. After SFX acquired Dayglow and turned it into Life In Color, the precedent for paint parties transformed into a national tour to match the likes of Electric Daisy Carnivals across the country. Their latest installment in Miami this past weekend proves that by no means do they intend to slow down with their expansion into becoming a full-fledged two-day event packed with the names of the hottest acts in electronic music, circus-style performance, and even a live painter working on a canvas.
Hosted in the parking lot of the Miami Dolphins’ Sun Life Stadium, the fans showed up early and packed the lines with enthusiasm and outfits. From as little as marijuana leaf pasties to full body paint-suits, the people were all ready to get sprayed in the non-toxic slime from any and every direction. Even if it took an hour just to get through showing your ID, getting patted down, and opening up your bag, nothing could stop the eager attendants from running to the set times poster and dashing towards their stage of choice (except maybe a quick stop at the water station or lavatories). Facing the entrance, the two big stages towered apart from each other with massive crowds dancing and jumping around with the paint cannons loaded up and firing upon a sea of soon to be freshly colored clothing. Their sound systems were so loud that it was hard to decide who to see and who to sacrifice for another time.
On the left side was the Downtown stage looming over guests and acting as the main-stage of Life In Color this year. It had an interesting design imitating the skyscrapers that surround Ultra Music Festival every March. I arrived to see the long-time LIC DJ and producer David Solano warm-up the crowd with big room bangers and electro house upheaval. He was quickly followed-up by Borgeous who started the show with his breakthrough track “Tsunami”. However, I thought to myself that I should save the main stage for the last day and spend my time over at the second stage which had an equally versatile set list of artists to the main stage.
As I walked past the local talent stage where the hardcore shuffling kandi kids were losing their minds to some of Miami’s well-kept secrets, I noticed that the second stage had a crowd that was already jamming to every song the DJs dropped. Known as the Paint Factory, their first major act was Emoh Instead under the guise as his latest project What So Not. Emoh had no problem taking the crowd on a rowdy trip through rough trap music and vibey melodies brought upon by tunes like “Every Time You See Me (The Quack)”, “Jaguar” , and their collaboration with RL Grime “Tell Me” (which was the most played song of the two evenings). New Jersey invaded the stage shortly after with DJ Sliink taking the stage and picking off where What So Not left off. His set developed into more Jersey Club music than his predecessor but the crowd was just as hyped to here tunes like the Flosstradamus remix of “Stoner” by Young Thug or his own remix of “Nwxrk” by Nadus.
The most head-turning act was Oscar Wylde and Vegas Banger together as Caked Up. I honestly went in with low expectations as they have done some questionable things in 2014. However, I was quite impressed with their ability to amp the already raging crowd utilizing their arsenal of big room, trap, and old-school hip-hop party jams with songs from Lil Jon & The East Side Boys and 2 Live Crew. As they dropped track after track, dancers came to the sides of the stage with large hoses and began to spray the entire crowd hard with ludicrous amounts of paint and the audience chanted for more.
To follow their rambunctious energy was the twenty-year-old producer known as Madeon who flipped the switch with an electro house binge for the painted audience. Between his own classics such as “The City”, “Icarus”, and “Pop Culture” to newer tunes like “Imperium”, “Technicolor”, and “You’re On”, the crowd was swaying about and rocking out to the electric synths and the feverish bass lines he has crafted. He even teased emotional crowd pleaser “Sad Machine” by Porter Robinson and magnitude trap tune “Boss Mode” by Knife Party making his set one of the most memorable ones of Friday night.
Canadian duo DVBBS were next to take the helm at the Paint Factory stage. The Canadian duo powered through the crowd with tunes like “Tsunami”, “We Were Young”, and “Raveology” with never-ending, fist-pumping action. Of course it wouldn’t be a real festival without hearing a shout out for “everyone who smokes weed” according to the duo and a Bob Marley track playing in the background. Aside from the that, DVBBS delivered bigger than big room house and a heavy chunk of the crowd relished in that. They wrapped their set with their big triple collaboration with Sander van Doorn and Martin Garrix “Gold Skies” and the crowd grooved as a form of farewell.
Next up were the Bingo Players starting immediately with the all so popular track “Rattle” to set the tone of energy and creativity. Martin took electro house away from simply being big room house and explored hard-hitting, face-melting bangers fused with his own productions and tracks from his label Hysteria. It didn’t take long to figure why LIC chose Bingo Players to cap the night at the Paint Factory stage as his track choices were on par with what the audience wanted to dance to. Before I made way to my car to head home and shower profusely, I caught a glimpse of Borgore hypnotizing the crowd at the main stage. From what I witnessed, the next day would be just as wild as the previous night.
Saturday afternoon landed and the venue flooded promptly with ravers, music fans, dancers, and party-goers alike. I squeezed in to get right in the middle of a set that Brass Knuckles was dominating with high-octane energy. To keep the party going was Miami’s homegrown hero Lookas itching to make the crowd jump with him. After these two gents had their way with the crowd, something I’ve never seen in a Life In Color show happened that I was curious to see play out.
The big selling point of this year’s edition of LIC Miami was having professional painter David Garibaldi filmed making paintings of some of the big artist’s on the lineup and using each video as a way to announce who was on the roster one by one. After Lookas exited the booth and before the next DJ took the reigns, David got on stage and with a mighty large canvas began to create a painting right on the spot in front of thousands of fans cheering him on. He initiated his work by throwing paint onto the canvas that he quickly painted around and through in order to show the crowd what was in his mind. From just a splash of blue, the painting turned into an image of a young person holding a ball of what appeared to be paint. Although the image itself was not a mind altering image, the creative process and the passion that went into the piece were magnificent and remarkable.Where most music festivals would never try such a thing, to see something like that on a main stage level felt very unique and out-of-the-ordinary in the eyes of a long-time concert-goer.
After Garibaldi was done with making art with his brushes, there was a sense that the music had to come back immediately. To bring back the tunes was Dutch hardstyle legend Headhunterz. Although plenty of hardstyle playes and devastated the moving bodies of anyone dancing, Headhunterz concocted a premium blend of electro house, trap, and progressive house that made his set diverse and unpredictable. His tune “Colors” stood out the most as the entire crowd was blasted repeatedly with pink, green, and blue paint and mixing on their clothes or bodies. Simply put, that song would be the perfect song to some up the emotion and experience Life In Color was in its entirety (and there were three more acts on each stage before it was even close to over).
Following with electro house in a slightly different direction was a man who earlier in the year said he was going to quit touring in order to focus on his music and family. The Panda Funk leader Deorro took to the stage for what many believe might have be his last show for awhile. Last show or not, it was just as energetic and crazy as every set before his while simultaneously adding tracks that fueled the perpetual state of rhythm. He introduced himself with a bootleg of AC/DC‘s “Thunderstruck” mixed with his monster tune “Bootie In Your Face” that dropped with the paint cannons firing and the festival-goers bouncing. With plenty of incredible originals like “Yee”, “Freak”, and “Dechorro” to keep fans like myself with my arms up in the air non-stop, Deorro smiled from the booth and kept going. His final track “Five Hours” may not have hit the hardest, but it gave the crowd an astonishing moment to groove rather than raging.
In the middle of Deorro’s set, I had to refill on my camelback which was very close to the Paint Factory. According to the poster, Adventure Club was playing at the same time as the Panda Funk man, throwing me into a pretty hard choice. As I went to get more water I could hear the duo’s remix of “Youth” by Foxes and the original version of “Alienz” by DallasK that were enticing me to stay with their exhilarating bass and eclectic construction. As much as I wanted to stay for them and for the following acts Diplo and Slander, I decided to stand by my decision to stay with the main stage for the second festival day and returned to see Deorro finish.
Back at the Downtown stage, the Australian twin sisters known as NERVO injected a splash of big room for a crowd that may have heard plenty of the genre, yet pumped up their fists and danced around anyway. The crowd was immersed in tunes like the Firebeatz remix of the classic “Calabria”, the Hardwell and MAKJ collaboration “Countdown”, and their track with R3hab “Ready For The Weekend” finding delight in the set while waiting for the night’s main stage headliner. But just before they handed the turntables away, Mim had to get herself in on the action and had herself blasted from head to toe in hot pink paint to a crowd applauding her spontaneous need to go hard in the paint.
Although all good things must come to an end, at least they can go out in style. To do so, Life In Color chose one of the most perfect names in dance music to close out the evening. A song called “A Little More” crept to introduce the audience to the one and only Kaskade who was prepped and set to have thousands of young adults shout in zealous joy to the sound of his house music and the texture of the flying colors. Employing his grandiose mashups, latest records, and throwback tunes, Ryan Raddon was able to bring everyone in front of the stage under a spell of wonder and bliss while the speakers shouted his personal productions and track selections into the last moments.
It took a top-notch roster, gallons of paint, and exhausted calves to realize I didn’t need to party that hard until next year. From the first acts I saw that Friday afternoon, I knew that this was going to be a marvelous odyssey in music and paint. This year LIC successfully turned a one-night party into a weekend festival with flawless execution and stunning result. Although at times in the front row the paint could be overwhelming to the eyes and mouth, the stages were all distinguishably entertaining and the DJs were savagely spectacular. It was much like the year before where headliners like Calvin Harris, Steve Aoki, Major Lazer, and more first turned Sun Life Stadium into a concert venue. The two biggest difference between this year’s Life In Color and any of their past performances was the second night of non-stop partying and of 1:00 A.M. showering to scrub off all the colors.
Image source: Life In Color