Our job here at Dancing Astronaut is to tell the story of dance music’s growth in the United States. Every day, in intimate nightclubs and at massive festivals, a whole new generation of fans comes together to celebrate everything that is great about the genre we love. The evidence that EDM is moving from the underground toward the mainstream is mounting: “Take Over Control” is finally a radio hit (more than a year after Afrojack debuted it), Deadmau5 makes an appearance in a new Samsung commercial, and Avicii is now on every frat boy’s iPod.
But after witnessing Tiësto’s record-breaking performance at the Home Depot Center, we were forced to admit that were wrong. Dance music isn’t growing in the United States. It’s already here. Read on past the break for our take on a little piece of history.
Over the course of the evening, we witnessed excellent sets from Porter Robinson, Diplo, and Dada Life, but once the headliner took to the stage, things got bigger, louder, and more theatrical. As Tiësto’s head popped up behind the decks, the six massive LED screens that flanked the stage sprung to life. He opened with his own production, “Las Vegas,” and on screen, the familiar Club Life intro video began to play, illuminating the entire Home Depot center. We knew that we were in for something spectacular.
Next up was Ken Loi’s Boot Up of Dune’s “Heiress of Valentina” with Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek,” followed by Tiësto & Hardwell’s “Zero 76.” You’ve all probably heard the song before, but we really have to stress that this is a ‘big room’ tune. Tiësto makes stadium music — meaning the louder you play it, the better it gets. That’s why the Home Depot Center was the perfect venue for this set. When “Zero 76” comes blaring out of massive speakers, the air trembles, and when the song finally drops, the earth shakes. Literally.
Tiësto & Hardwell – Zero 76
He followed “Zero 76” with Tim Mason’s “Anima,” which he flawlessly mixed into Kaskade’s “Turn it Down” — one of our favorite songs of the year so far. It’s worth noting that Tiësto and Kaskade have been hands down the stars of the summer here in the US. As headliners on the College Invasion and IDentity tours, both men have taken the country by storm, expanding EDM’s reach and winning thousands of new fans.
Kaskade feat. Rebecca and Fiona – Turn it Down (Extended Mix)
Dirty South & The Unusual Suspects’ “Walking Alone” was next, followed by Sebastian Ingrosso and Alesso’s “Calling.” Other notable tracks in this section were Ryeland’s edit of Emile Sande’s “Heaven” and Erick Strong’s bootleg of Cassius’ “I Love You So.”
Sebastian Ingrosso & Alesso – Calling (Original Instrumental Mix)
One of the biggest perks of a media pass is that you get to stand in the space between the DJ and the crowd. In the little patch of grass that divides the front railings and the stage , you have room to watch and observe. You can feel the bass rumble through you and outward into the stadium. You can see the faces of all the people in the front row — the die-hard EDM fans. These are the people who showed up early, who braved heat and claustrophobia just to be closer to the DJ and to feed off his presence.
So what does it feel like to stand between the greatest DJ in history and the largest North American crowd to ever gather for a single-DJ performance?
Tiësto is a living legend. He’s one of the few people in the world who can command the undivided attention of 25,000 people for hours. Watching him perform from up close is absolutely electrifying. His stage presence is unmatched, and when you see his face crack into that trademark cheeky grin, you know you’re in the hands of a true professional.
As Tiësto moved into the middle section of his set, he cranked up the energy level another notch. The next few tracks were absolutely relentless, a breathtaking combination of massive bangers and filthy Dirty Dutch drops. Tiësto wove R3hab’s remix of Calvin Harris’ “Bounce” into Afrojack’s remix of Tiny Tempah’s “Pass Out.” He followed that with one of the most successful tracks on the festival circuit this year, Deniz Koyu’s “Tung!”
Calvin Harris – Bounce (R3hab remix)
Tiësto had ramped up the energy. Now he turned on the style. His next section was dominated by gorgeous progressive melodies and emotional, feel-good tunes. As Third Party’s remix to Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Otherside” began to play, a shower of sparks cascaded down the front of the stage, and the entire crowd sang its collective lungs out. We got goosebumps. Then, just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, we heard the unforgettable vocals from one of the greatest songs of the 90s, Oasis’ “Wonderwall.” Our goosebumps got bigger, because mashed together with Liam Gallagher’s voice was the perfect piano of Eric Prydz’ “2night.” It was beautiful.
Oasis vs. Pryda – Wonderwall 2night (Ken Loi Bootup)
Other highlights from this part of the set were Tiësto’s collaboration with Tegan & Sara, “Feel It In My Bones,” and another Tiësto production, “I Will Be Here,” (which features Sneaky Soundystem on vocals). As “I Will Be Here” faded into AutoErotique’s remix of Tiësto’s “Work Hard Play Hard,” the party followed its instructions, and started jumping. It continued jumping, because next up was Sidney Samson’s Dirty Dutch remix of Ferry Corsten’s legendary anthem, “Punk.”
Soon after, we were incredibly surprised to hear the vocals from Kanye West’s “Lost in the World.” We couldn’t identify the remix, but after some furious Googling, we found that it is reportedly Tiësto’s own. The track hasn’t been officially released yet, but Tiësto has been playing it at major gigs, including Ultra. While the show was going on, however, we didn’t have much time think about it, because “Lost in the World” soon gave way to an absolute banger — “Madagascar.” For some reason, this track seems to lift you off the ground, take you into the air, and then slam you back down down, hard. All in the space of a few seconds. We approve.
Tiësto’s remix of Marcel Woods’ “Advanced” was soon thudding through the Home Depot Center, followed by a Tiësto classic, “Traffic.” Then came another of the night’s highlights — Tiësto’s “Adagio for Strings.” As the track’s haunting, operatic melody poured out of the speakers, the crowd relaxed, and the Dutch legend brought the microphone to his lips. “This is the day that we all realize that dance music is bigger than anything else in the world,” he said, “and I thank you for that…” The roar that greeted his words was absolutely deafening. When the song finally dropped, a volley of fireworks launched into the dark sky, and 25,000 people went absolutely ballistic.
Tiësto – Adagio For Strings
The complex “Adagio For Strongs” had given the crowd some time to breathe, but now it was time to party once again. It was time for Tiësto & Diplo’s “C’mon,” Tommy Trash’s “Future Folk,” and Tiësto’s own “Escape Me.” As the night began to wind down, Tiësto progressed into three of the year’s biggest tracks — Alesso’s Remix of “Pressure,” Avicii’s “Levels,” and R3hab & Swanky Tunes’ “Sending My Love.” Then came arguably the biggest drop of the night — AutoErotique’s absolutely huge remix of Benny Benassi’s “House Music.”
Benny Benassi – House Music (AutoErotique’s Explode the Club Remix)
Tiësto closed out the night the same way he has many times this year — with “Maximal Crazy.” We really have no other way to describe this track other than powerful. It’s a stadium track, and when it’s blasted through an arena of this size, the entire building shudders — along with everyone in it. This was the final song of an amazing night, and the crowd was determined to celebrate. As “Maximal Crazy” built, every single audience member began to jump, bouncing up and down on the rubbery protective surface that had been placed over the grass soccer field. It felt like everyone wanted to leave the show exhausted, having spent all their energy on the dance floor. When it finally dropped, a medley of fireworks cracked into the air, bathing the night in red and white light. Confetti flew everywhere. Then, after slowing down the loops and bringing the speakers to silence, Tiësto raised his hands in one final salute, and was gone.
It was a truly awesome performance — a night that we’ll probably remember forever. When Tiësto finally hangs up his headphones, he will be rightfully acknowledged as one of the 21st century’s greatest performers. Tonight, Tiësto had made history. He had demonstrated that dance music has officially arrived as a global phenomenon. And we were lucky to witness it.
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