There was no shortage of New Year’s Eve events to choose from this year, but when the two day lineup for LED’s OMFG in San Diego was released, there was no question where I was going to spend my final days of 2012. With a behemoth lineup consisting of Jack Beats, Nervo, Calvin Harris, Nero, Dillon Francis, Hardwell, Zedd, Laidback Luke and more, OMFG boasted an astounding array of talent over its two day spread. While I would happily recount my experiences from all of these tremendous artists, no words can I spare from my descriptions of Nero and Hardwell’s sets. Click past the break for a full recap of both artists’ performances.
After a surprisingly savvy set from the NERVO twins on day 1, Nero stepped up to the decks for what would be the most technical hour of the night. While ‘Nero Live’ sets are remarkable for their profundity of original material and unique stage production, ‘Nero DJ’ sets are the chance for Stephens and Daniels to show off their proficient mixing skills and impeccable taste in music.
Nero started off with their enchanting new original “Etude,” before working their way into “Doomsday” and the massive VIP mix of “Guilt.” Skrillex and Wolfgang Gartner’s “Devil’s Den” was paired with Daft Punk’s “Harder Better Faster Stronger,” to which Nero sampled Skrillex’s “Still Getting It.” However, my favorite moment came when Nero dropped their highly coveted electro house VIP of “Must Be the Feeling,” before mixing out of the track by suddenly slowing down the bpm to zero, and returning with the orchestral intro edit of “Promises.” The contrast between the dramatic, crashing bpm of “Must Be the Feeling” and the uplifting, symphonic vibe of the “Promises” edit was absolutely beautiful. Nero further impressed me by mashing Gessafelstein’s “Control Movement” with Daft Punk’s “Technologic,” before culminating the awesome build up with Knife Party’s “Rage Valley.”
On the whole, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was watching a master perform. Every transition was seamless, every tempo change precise. As Nero sampled “Right On Time,” I couldn’t help but acknowledge the larger significance — every sample was truly right on time.
While Dillon Francis killed it with his mischievous moombahton, and Zedd entranced fans with delectable Clarity originals, it was Hardwell who ultimately proved his prowess on the second night of OMFG. For one hour, Hardwell treated fans to his signature blend of stadium-sized house, dropping countless originals and bootlegs of seismic proportion.
Hardwell began his set in the same fashion he has many times this year, with his blissful intro edit to “Spaceman.” While staples like “Rattle” and “Greyhound” soon followed, it was “Apollo” that stood out amongst his early tracks. I was admittedly underwhelmed by the track upon its release but hearing that booming Hardwell bass in the stadium environment completely reshaped my opinion. And that breakdown, oh man, Amba Shepherd, you melt me. The biggest bootleg of the night came next, as the familiar lyrics of Linkin Park’s “Numb” quickly consumed the crowd, only to build up to the massive drop of Showtek and Justin Prime’s “Cannonball.” Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was then paired with Jordy Dazz’s “Claymore” to a clamorous reception, and Pendulum’s “The Island” beautifully complimented an instrumental of Tommy Trash’s remix of “Ladi Dadi.”
Hardwell then surprised us all by bringing the tempo down to 110 bpm and dropping Knife Party’s “Sleaze.” At this point, the energy was near riotous, and instead of choosing to simmer the crowd, Hardwell ramped up the energy to the highest of the set by closing with the Headhunterz remix of “Spaceman.” I’ve always been less partial to hardstyle because of its absurdly fast tempo and screeching synths, but something about the way Hardwell built up to the remix just worked. It wasn’t long before the entire crowd and I were soon engulfed in a stampede of joyous stomping.
Hardwell – Spaceman (Headhunterz Remix)
Hardwell’s set may have only been one hour, but it certainly felt like more. The Dutch DJ never lingered on any one song too long, yet still gave each track the space to breathe. The energy was well balanced between heavier Dutch drops and darker minimal/tech offerings. Hardwell’s mixing, as usual, was flawless, proving that he is not only an accomplished producer, but a disciplined and highly talented DJ.