By Pooja Shah (@Pooja_Shahnanigans)
Insomniac’s EDC Virtual Rave-A-Thon took place the traditional EDC weekend which was supposed to touchdown once again in Vegas this year. Despite the inability to throw the annual marquee event in person this year, Pasquale Rotella pulled in a heavy-hitting lineup for the virtual festival including David Guetta, ZHU, Kaskade, NGHTMRE back-to-back Ghastly, and so much more. Despite not being able to enjoy the event physically, ravers across the world were still able to congregate under a digital version of the electric sky. For many, it was a chance to dress-up, explore new music, and dive into a new creative experience of #RavingatHome.
For those of you who couldn’t check out the EDC Virtual Rave-a-thon Live, here’s a handy little break down (by genre) of the most memorable sets. It's important to know that many artists broke the limitations of their own traditional sounds for their EDC sets (including Subtronics who dropped “Funky Town”). Yes, many of the artists did play within their genre wheelhouse but do not be surprised to hear a plethora of Disco, Funk, Hip-Hop, and Jungle: All of which made a heavy return this EDC.
I wanted to start with the most underrepresented genre this EDC virtual-rave-a-thon: Hardstyle. For hard music purists, it would be accurate to say there was no real representation of hard or hardstyle music this virtual EDC. With the unfortunate announcement of European heavyweight HeadHunterz dropping out from virtual EDC because of “artistic differences” fans of this sub-genre of music left EDC weekend wanting more.
While technically not hardstyle, K?D, and i_O in fairly heavy sets this EDC. K?D utilized his traditional hardstyle drops and blends with a future bass sound. i_O brought a blend of techno, psytrance, and heavy sounds for a set that crossed genre lines.
Future Bass/Melodic Dubstep:
Fans of the lyrical and melodic dubstep sets where you want to both headbang and cry will likely already know to rewatch Seven Lions’ set. ARMNHMR also put on a true-to-self future bass set with therapeutic light sounds: a great watch for any fan of this subgenre.
While neither future bass, not melodic dubstep, KSHMR also gets an honorable mention here. For one, as one of the only Big Room artists, he doesn’t fall neatly into any other category, and for a second, he is one of the few artists to bring a live singer to perform during his set. KARA’s rendition of “Devil Inside Me” live was both dark but also powerful and, frankly, a banger. If that isn’t one of the definitions of melodic dubstep, we don’t know what is.
The opening NGHTMRE B2B GHASTLY set was HEAVY, and a perfect way to start the party that is (virtual) EDC. The two artists seemed to pair seamlessly together with Ghastly’s new dance-oriented sound perfecting accompanying NGHTMREs’ classic heavy drops. This combination, not surprisingly, was a match made in Bass Heaven. Fans of NGHTMRE B2B GHASTLY will also likely love the set Zed’s Dead. This time, both artists (Hooks and DC) were able to make it over to insomniac headquarters to give us a unique set that featured classics as well as heavy callbacks to Hip-Hop.
Boombox Cartel and Valentino Kahn played very expected sets, with Valentino making a surprise appearance to add some Bass-House sound to Deorro’s set. I can't imagine that Disinfecto was happy about that. Flosstradamus also threw down an expected heavy trap set.
For those you want it the darkest: Subtronics, 12th Planet, and Voyd all played very heavy riddim-oriented sets, though with Subtronics throwing some 80’s callbacks in between his big drops (anyone else catch that Disco?). Svdden Death Presents Voyd perhaps provided the darkest set of the evening, with a new experimental sound that changes Riddim as we imagine it. Insomniac also featured a clip from his music video for Confusion Spell.
For fans of psytrance, Vini Vici put a heavy spin on traditional favorite songs “Great Spirit” and “Free Tibet.” While Trance purists may not agree that i_O belongs in this category, fans of psytrance will enjoy his hard-hitting set as well, particularly if they also have an affinity for Techno.
Old School trance fans may also enjoy the surprise set from DJ Demigod, filling in as a temporary replacement due to equipment failure from Whethan. Great lesson learned for all you DJ’s out there: always carry your flash drive, you never know when opportunities pop-up.
Techno/House/Tech House/Bass House:
House Music is a huge genre, so I’ll do my best to categorize sets by genre. It’s also worth mentioning that over 50% of the artists on the line-up fall into this category, so not every artist that falls here may be mentioned.
Techno and House purists will likely most enjoy Nicole Moudaber’s closing Saturday set as well as Kaskade’s throwback set and of course, Lee Floss.
For fans of Tech House, Chris Lorenzo and Sidepiece (a house music collaboration between Nitti Gritti and Party Favor) were standouts from the crows. Both sets featured callbacks of 80’s funk and disco music. Dirtybird fans will also enjoy Claude Vonstroke’s pre-recorded set: true to the “circus” sound along with crowd favorites like “Jolene.” Similar to Claude, Tchami, Zhu, Malaa, and Dombresky played very true to genre and style music (though Zhu’s artistic choices may be deemed a bit risqué.)
Bass House fans will enjoy Wax Motif or AC Slater for that familiar “Night Bass” sound.
DJ Legends Benny Benassi and David Guetta brought the feels with two amazing throws back sets. “Uncle” Benny brought heavy funk drops with this traditional bass-house sound for a set that would have any old-school raver dancing on their feet. David Guetta also threw in some classic songs, including the 2000’s hit “When love takes over” sung by Destiny’s Child. Oliver Heldens also gave us a vibrant euro-dance style set along with some hilarious visuals featuring our other favorite artists as swimming fish.
Kaskade also brought out some classic house favorites. The LA-native chose to produce and record his set from his recording studio, as opposed to the Insomniac office, which is no surprise considering we just saw him perform over the Grand Canyon the day earlier. In true Kaskade fashion, you can also find him not wearing shoes in either of these sets. I can only imagine the work Disinfecto would need to do after a barefoot Kaskade, so perhaps it was for the best the set was prerecorded.
Lastly, Z-Trip brought hip-hop and jungle back to mainstream EDM, along with a reminder of why scratching is a lost artform amongst modern-day disc jockeys. From remixing Pasquale’s opening speech live to closing out with a reminder that “If you’re feeling alone, you’re really not,” not even the rave godfather himself could keep a dry eye during this set. From Hip-Hop to Drum & Bass to other classics such as Linkin Park and Daft Punk: this set had something for any fan of the old school. Perhaps with this set alone, Z-Trip has made his mark on the EDM community: not as easy feat for a Hip-Hop Jockey.
As a reminder, all of the sets are also available for rewatching on youtube! Be sure you like, comment, and subscribe to best support insomniac without it costing you a penny. You can also like and subscribe to your favorite artists: your support goes a long way!
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Pooja Shah is an LA-Based IT Consultant and the FestivalAddicts website monkey. When she’s not posting articles, getting sponsors, or headbanging to the latest Lost Lands Compilation Album, you can follow her festival adventures on Instagram @Pooja_Shahnanigans