Sound Wave Music Festival/Red Bull Thre3style Massive at Big Surf, 9/29/12
Benjamin Leatherman The Wakiki Beach stage at Sound Wave Music Festival during Seven Lions' set.
Sound Wave Music Festival & Red Bull Thre3style Massive: Calvin Harris,
Z-Trip, Switch, Adventure Club, Crizzly, and Others at Big Surf | 9/29/12
The third time was most definitely the charm for the Sound Wave Music Festival.
The inaugural edition of the electronic dance music massive back in April 2011 was plagued by unseasonably chilly rain that kept attendance woefully low. Six months later, club and concert promoter Steve LeVine rebounded with a second Sound Wave that featured bigger crowds and a better line-up of performers.
Last night's version, however, was a far more spectacular affair than its predecessors, boasting an enormous crowd, an amazing array of electronica artists and DJs, epic sets, and a certain fantastical aura and joie de vivre that perfectly captured the energy and effusiveness of the current EDM zeitgeist.
Needless to say, it was arguably the biggest electronic music extravaganza in Arizona history.
LeVine couldn't have picked a more perfect weekend to stage the event, as the summer temps have waned enough for the audience to enjoy a daylong audio orgy outdoors without risking heatstroke. It was certainly a big weekend for high-profile concerts - what with Desert Uprising going on over in the West Valley, Bieber Fever sweeping through Glendale, and the Tempe Rock Star Festival taking over Sail Inn.
He also gave local dance music fiends enough time to recover from Identity Festival tour stop last month at Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavilion. While the Live Nation-promoted EDM fest may have offered more high-profile names (such as Bingo Players and Eric Prydz), the mid-August heat seemed to kill off everyone's enthusiasm and energy by the end of the night.
Plus, Sound Wave's line-up was much more diverse and thrilling than its more corporate competitor. And its crowd was far more energetic and unhinged.
If you had been in the thick of the audience at Sound Wave, you would've witnessed a nonstop lightstorm of laser beams and spotlights piercing the air as beats and booms thundered from three different stages as relentless onslaught of color and sound unfolded for 10 hours straight.
A crowd of thousands -- including countless ladies sporting tutus, bikini tops, and faux spectacles (the preferred ensemble for a majority of females at Sound Wave) -- almost filled the entirety of Big Surf's Waikiki Beach wave pool, which is emptied for each edition of Sound Wave, becoming a tempestuous hurly burly of movement and dancing, as an unending throng dressed in neon clothing whirled glowing objects as EDM superstars whipped everyone into an absolute fervor with their tracks.
It seems absolutely fitting that a full moon hung overhead and providing its own illumination, as Sound Wave attendees got plenty loony and collectively lost their shit as each DJ unleashed pure audio dynamite on their asses.
Conversely, the activity over at the area occupied by the Red Bull Thre3style Massive, essentially a festival within a festival, ultra-talented turntablists, scratch masters, and boss beat-jugglers instigated a fly dance party that offered an alternative to the Waikiki stage's offerings.
If artists like the crown prince of crunkstep Crizzly (who whipped people into an ginormous frenzy by dropping his hip-hop-laced hybridizations and brain-bending bass to a flurry of psychedelic visuals) or the more subdued sounds of Seven Lions (a creator of low-end masterpieces that alternated between dubstep fury and the lushness of trance), the Thre3style stage offered a different perspective.