Global Dance Festival at The Brick, 7/19/12

SIM girls dance during AC Slater's set
SIM girls dance during AC Slater's set

SIM girls dance during AC Slater's set
Global Dance Festival Day 1
With Knife Party, 12th Planet, AC Slater, and more
The Brick, Minneapolis
Wednesday, July 18, 2012

You don't need to know the difference between house, trance and dub step to unpack EDM. If you like pop music -- be it Kanye West or Britney Spears -- that's a good start. This much was evident to anyone pondering such things during the Global Music Fest's first night at the Brick.

A layperson may have to go home and Google the apparently popular "I'll Bass You" T-shirt, and ask a stranger to reveal the LED lights under his glowing white gloves. But it's easy to draw up the formula last night's DJs used to rouse the crowd: Some part of the low end drops out of the beat, followed by a thumping build with synths and sometimes vocals, an addition of nintendo-sounding siren whoops moving higher in pitch, or repeating increasingly faster... and then the bass drops. The anticipation and the big sneeze. Everyone stops looking vaguely bored and begins to bounce heavily to the hiccuping bass rumblies, the wobbles.

The young, mall-outfitted crowd (lots of pageant-big hair and baseball caps) was fringed with women in rave gear (neon bikinis and spandex, fishnets and fur cuffs). Everybody danced, kind of. A mass of probably 70 percent men faced the stage, pressed close mosh-pit style and bounced with a raised arm, like you would for an emcee. At local dance nights, hip-shaker or Cryphy, partiers sort of mind their own business. Last night, though, no matter how subtle the DJ's movements, almost everybody faced the stage reverently.

First on the bill, AC Slater revved the audience a few times with some generic "Hands in the air!" requests, but mostly bobbed around behind his laptop and mixer. Event promotions company Sound In Motion (SIM) provided stage dancers and two-at-a-time, the scantily-clad moved (mostly their arms) to a set including a "HYFR" remix and some AC Slater original productions, like "Ass Drop" with Dell Harris.

Kanye West's "Mercy" works so well in an EDM set that AC Slater and 12th planet each mixed it in within minutes of their transition between sets. The crowd hardly seemed to care, but it brings up the question of spontaneity -- it's hard to tell if 12th Planet was doing more live than sliding faders and pressing play.

Knife Party and the SIM dancers
Knife Party and the SIM dancers

Knife Party and the SIM dancers

He for sure had the best presence of the night, enough to give the dancers an off-stage break. He bounced around madly, maneuvered theatrically, and mouthed lyrics proudly along to Danny Billz' "I'm a Wild Boy." The set was saturated in recognizable pop samples and remixes, stuff like 2 Chainz and Drake's "No Lie," and Kanye and Jay-Z's "Niggas in Paris," which is pretty EDM on its own.

The crowd responded just as well to a definite moombahton moment, and everybody knew to reply to his scream, "fuck all them haters!" with "fuck all them hoes!" when 12th Planet dropped "Foes" by Borgore. He stepped in front of the gear to sing at the crowd with Flux Pavilion's "Daydreamer" (chopped and sped up to chipmunk vocals) and later to command "If I'm stage divin', catch me Minnesota" (they did).

Australian headliners, Knife Party, have a darker, noisier feel to their production than the opening DJs. Their live set was was more concentrated with original material, though not as heavy and driving throughout as would be expected from their recent release "Rage Valley." The set still contained, like those before it, some belt-out-an-anthem mixes, recognizable pop, and dozens of rising expectations and satisfying drops.

People got sweaty, the SIM girls joined Knife Party on stage, and the place smelled like weed and cheap beer. But no matter how chopped and sped -- how original the remix or polished the production -- 6 hours in and 3 artists down, any one-genre indoor festival might feel tiring. Watching girls tire of dancing, and DJs repeatedly build anticipation and drop bass, felt particularly monotonous. At least to this untrained ear.

Notable looks: The plastic rainbow-bead surgical mask, converse low tops and fake fur leg canisters, colorful wedge shoes and a dress so short you need to tug the hemline down every few steps.

Notebook commentary: "[SIM] dancer looking like she tryna marshall a plane," and "More Drake, more bass drops. Skrillex. That wah wah wah."

Overheard: Too loud for that. 

Observed: A couple of guys gave multiple (uninvited?) in-your-face light shows with LED-lit gloves, to strangers. See this (it wasn't that dark at the Brick).

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