Review: Dubstep at Electric Daisy Carnival NYC by John Esposito


I’d like begin with a HUGE thank you to the entire event staff and everyone involved with the production of Insomniac Events very first New York installment of the Electric Daisy Carnival hosted at the Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.  Starting May 18th, EDCNY was an impeccably planned festival from start to finish. With just a few short months to prepare, everything fell into place perfectly. The illuminated stages were immaculate, the rides were exhilarating, and the sound systems pumped out beats that sent chills down all of our spines. 

As usual, I’ll be bringing you along a journey into the darker side of Electronic Dance Music—dubstep. At first glance, the EDCNY lineup didn’t present a large selection of dubstep artists, but what they lacked in quantity, they unquestionably made up for in quality. 

The madness started at about 9:00 PM Friday night at a very unfamiliar place for dubstep aficionados — the MAIN STAGE! Chase and Status knew how much that meant, not only to them, but to all the loving fans dreaming of the days dub artists would finally surface with the Armin van Buurens’s and Swedish House Mafia’s leading the EDM world.  We were ready. Thousands of fans in bandanas and their most cherished dub logos across their chests filled the main stage. Stationed as close to the fully packed main stage as physically possible, I began to feel the entire crowd’s raw emotions racing through my body.  The pair came alive, feeding off of the crowd’s energy while using a slightly different approach than their normal DnB roots by mixing in much more dubstep, electro and even a bit of tech house to round out a well balanced set, which was a little more appropriate for the main stage.  After seeing their set at Ultra Music Festival in Miami this past March, it was not what I expected, but a welcomed new sound for a couple of DnB legends.  Their attempt to open everyone’s ears and minds worked.  After Chase and Status’ set, several EDC goers claimed they had just found their new favorite genre.

I went into EDCNY with a very open mind, and maybe I was forced to.  I discovered several new genres of music as well as new artists.  En route to the stadium, I started to get a tad animated.  I was now positioned on the 50 yard line on the same field my beloved NY Giants use to punish their adversaries. What an unexpected, yet marvelous, way to be living out one of my childhood dreams!  It was a great set up, with ample room to rage, room to sit, and had conveniently placed vendors to accommodate everyone’s needs. 

Delta Heavy rocked Giants stadium on Sunday at 3pm. Take a minute to remember that name, as their music will be heard at nearly every venue that bass slandered beats are welcomed. They provided a unique blend of all the elements that make what I consider bass music. Bass music, to me, is anything that falls under the categories of dubstep, drumstep and DnB with a huge electro influence. Music will always evolve with the times, and this group nailed it. It was one of my favorite sets of the entire weekend and an ideal way to start my final day at EDC.  After their set I decided to take a break from dubsteppin to mentally prepare myself for 7:00 PM. 

It was the beginning of the end for my ear drums, sanity and overall well-being as I was engulfed in three straight hours of disgustingly dirty beats from some of the best DJs in the genre.  It started with Borgore, the pioneer of “bro-step.”  As I anticipated, Borgore started strong, continuing the barrage of furious beats combined with his signature lyrics that lightened the mood just enough to give you a few seconds of rest before it all happened again. When “Sexy & I Know It” – LMAO (Borgore Remix) blazed through the speakers, every single person in the crowd seemed to crack a smile in perfect harmony. After all, who doesn’t like to hear they’re sexy? Borgore doesn’t release a lot of the tracks he plays, which makes every set an entirely new experience. Being a top notch DJ surely helps this approach, mixing tracks while improvising his set to go along with the flow and feel of the crowd.         

At 8:15pm at kineticFIELD we saw Bassnectar—a man who clearly needs no introduction.  He is yet another dub artist who was deemed worthy of the main stage.  Anyone else noticing a trend here?  A large cloud of smoke enveloped the main stage, followed by large bursts of fire and fireworks. When the smoke cleared, Bassnectar declared “MAKE SOME NOISE!!!”  A monstrous roar was all he needed to hear before jumping right in with his signature lightshow and vivid funky images. The first tune he played, “Wildstyle Method”, is a personal favorite of mine. Judging by the reaction it got, it was everyone else’s too.  This introduction had the packed crowd two-stepping and head-banging in almost perfect unison.  He dropped three different versions of “Cozza Frenzy,” a technique more artists should use. This was a pleasant reminder of how greatly appreciated each individual’s view on a song is, making long strides towards the unity and strength of the entire scene itself. 

As hard as it was to peel myself away from Bassnectar, I thought it would only be fair to check out a lesser known but equally filthy artist.  Creating captivating DnB since 2003, SubFocus is a name everyone should know by now.  Always bringing an “anything goes” mentality to his sets, it’s not shocking to hear some old school breaks, electro or even house sneak its way into his set.

The last leg of my gnarly three-day voyage ended with the renowned duo known as Nero.  While they might fall under the dubstep category, the music they produce is nothing short of pure genius.  More often than not, Nero tends to stick with a mix of their own songs.  But with only one of the pair showing up, fate decided to bless all of the precious supporters with a wonderful mix of melodies up and down the bass music gamut.  All of the usual suspects were there – “Innocence” “Me & You” two versions of “Promises” and, last but not least, “Doomsday.”  This was an exceptional moment for me, and it had very little to do with the music.  All of my good friends, who are like family to me, decided to end the festival with Nero as well.  After hearing “I think I like dubstep” from some of the most unlikely individuals, I was certain that I was either dreaming, or hell had indeed frozen over.

Just when we all thought their performance was over as 11pm neared, they dropped “Chop Suey” by System of a Down and had the masses in a chaotic frenzy, transforming the bassrush stage into a wild rock concert. Not only was this one of the best acts of the entire festival, it was also one of the most memorable moments of my life. After the frenzy ended and the lights went on, all I could see surrounding me were amazed eyes and with radiant smiles. Nero was the best possible way to end the first ever Electric Daisy Carnival in New York.  #EDMEAST #MONROVIA

The constraints and boundaries that separated dance music, for what seemed like an eternity, are constantly being broken down by new breeds of producers and fans.  EDCNY was the epitome of diversity, with almost every artist mixing up their style to go with the times and the people’s choice. It was nearly impossible to attend a set without hearing a Nero, Knife Party or Skrillex remix. Dubstep was definitely represented at EDCNY, from Alesso to R3hab, and even ATB mashed in some deep bass during his set. 

Our dark and downright dirty style has caught the eye of everyone in and outside of the EDM scene. This was made evidently clear last weekend. Dubstep is starting to slowly break its way into just about everything from the radio, to video games, to commercials.  Love it or hate it, dubstep is here to stay!

John Esposito for EDMNYC


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