Casually sipping water backstage, Anton Zaslavski stands around idly, surveying the mass of neon-clad bodies. He is eerily zenlike – a soft-spoken, humble 22-year-old from Kaiserslautern, Germany. Based on his unassuming demeanor and casual attitude, the average bystander would have no idea he or she was standing in the presence of one of the most impressive electro producers in EDM today. He smirks and takes another sip from his relabeled Poland Spring bottle, then ascends the steps onto the Euphoric Kingdom stage at Fall Massive at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC. As if suddenly transformed by the roaring cheers of “ZEDD!” Anton raises one hand high over his head before finally slamming the play button on his S4, launching into a furious complextro set, moving at such a breakneck pace you would never know he was the same guy standing backstage less than five minutes ago, not saying a word.
For the next hour, Anton will have all but disappeared, replaced with his Mr. Hyde alter ego, Zedd, whose top notch productions and high energy sets have garnered him critical acclaim. As the glowstick-waving masses jumped and thrashed, Zedd began his high-velocity audio attack with a cadre of original tracks, remixes and some re-imagined classics. It was refreshing to hear last year’s Deadmau5 and Wolfgang Gartner collaboration “Animal Rights” mixed with the Zedd remix of “Weekends” by his OSWLA labelmate Skrillex. We had forgotten how infectious the “Animal Rights” bassline was – it’s a remarkably versatile production that fit perfectly with the dubstep drops of “Weekends.”
When the familiar vocals from the Chemical Brother’s classic “Block Rockin’ Beats” burst through the speakers with an unfamiliar bass line, the crowd erupted – this was the recently ID’d Nicky Romero track “Generation 303,” and it’s an absolute monster. Even when Zedd dropped Ke$ha’s track “Blow” he kept things interesting by playing a lesser known remix by the electro house act Cirkut. Taking an unbearable Top 40 track from one of the worst pop acts in recent memory and making it bearable is no easy feat (Zedd’s knows this first hand with his remix of “The Time” by the Black Eyed Peas) but Cirkut does an amazing job with “Blow,” chopping and stuttering the overproduced vocals into an electro banger. No Zedd set would be complete without a slight interlude into Zedd’s re-imagining of the “Legend of Zelda” followed closely by “Stars Come Out” and that little track that convinced Tommy Trash to shave his head, “Shave It.”
By the end of the hour, no one – not even Anton – was ready for the set to reach its completion, but Fall Massive was designed for those with attention deficit disorder in mind, leaving only a select few acts with set times longer than an hour. As Anton descended from behind the decks and shook the hands of countless fans, he remained subdued, quietly nodding his thank yous before disappearing backstage, bottle of water in hand.
Skrillex – Weekends (Zedd Remix)
Nicky Romero – Generation 303
Ke$ha – Blow (Cirkut Remix)
Zedd – The Legend of Zelda (Original Mix)
Zedd – Shave It (Original Mix)
Photos by Andrew Spada
To see the entire Fall Massive album, check it out here.