What defines EDM culture? Is it purely the music? Is it our extravagant attire? Is it our PLUR ideology? Is it our DJ idols? Or is it something more than that? As a recent attendee of day two (darn those expensive 3 day passes) of Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in San Francisco, California I was given some food for thought when a line up I didn’t expect to be very EDM intensive (aside from the 21+ Heineken House stage which featured DJ acts exclusively) had a few EDM appearances.
To clear the air, I’m an avid and experienced raver, but by no means a festival veteran. Outside Lands Day 2 being the second festival I’ve attended not only all summer, but in my life (first if you claim CBS Local/KITS Live 105’s BFD [Big Freaking Day] isn’t a true to heart festival due to it lasting all of one day). While at Outside Lands for Saturday’s lineup I can say there were only two true to life DJ sets at the actual stages: Giraffage and Classixx.
Before Giraffage’s set I was fortunate to find some fellow ravers thanks to an Electric Family flag that someone dangled above the crowd. But being part of the crowd during Giraffage’s set and not seeing any kandi (which surprisingly was allowed despite many festival guidelines these days) at all was kinda off putting. To top it off, most of the people there stood with confused looks on their faces as the set flowed through genres of EDM (everything from future bass, DnB, trap, pixel pop, techno, to house) many people seemed far from comfortable. As a whole, everyone seemed like they felt like an outsider at Outside Lands due to the presence of what one could consider EDM. There were some people who were obviously into the music of the local and commercially popular talent due to his music in ads and for supporting Porter Robinson during his Worlds tour, but the whole vibe just felt peculiar. The only time the crowd was really in unison was during his exit song which was Darude’s techno classic Sandstorm, and I couldn’t tell if people were pumped due to it being a old school EDM staple or it being a part of the ironic twitch.tv fad of being the only response to “What is this song?”. The lesson learned here: EDM culture is most definitely not defined by the music we listen to.
The next DJ set was another experience all on it’s own. Classixx comes out with a synthesizer keyboard, guitar, and a deck but the entire setup is for two people and encased in lacquered wood, LED bulbs, cables and knobs. They start off right away grooving into some nu-disco/house tracks and the entire crowd is loving it and vibing cohesively. I have that familiar at home feeling of a rave and the BPM is just perfect for me to break out some shuffling. Next thing i know there’s people forming a circle around me trying to learn to shuffle themselves, breaking out other forms of dance (if you’re the one guy who was really into tutting and praised my shuffling left and right, hi you made my Outside Lands experience thanks a ton), or conversing to make those little “till we met again” friendships. No kandi is present and the word PLUR is not mentioned once however, the vibe of PLUR was very much alive. These people had so much love and happiness and were more than willing to share. It was hard to believe the crowd that made up the Giraffage set barely 40 minutes prior hosted the same people.
Perhaps we forget exactly how much of EDM culture is not electronic at all, but rather purely human. We seem to dissociate how normal love, empathy and joy are in today’s society and standard culture. We should make more efforts as raves to spread PLUR not only at raves or festivals but in everyday life as well. EDM culture is not defined by the media who give us a bad reputation of pill popping kids with brains turned to mush by repetitive music, it is not defined by the very DJs that produce music and spin sets electronically for which our culture has got it’s namesake, it’s not defined by our constantly changing yet always flamboyant fashion choices. EDM culture is defined by those who are passionate about the scene. It doesn’t matter whether you call yourself a DJ, raver, kandi kid, rager, partier, glover, shuffler, flow artist, [inset genre here] enthusiast, etc., you are in the EDM scene because you consider it part of who you are or consider it a passion. And EDM culture is defined by the individuals who live it.
Born and raised in the Bay Area of California. I entered the rave scene on February 15, 2013 at age 15 with a Tjani, Mord Fustang, and Feed Me show at SF's Regency Ballroom. Since that day EDM has been my true love; I mean all genres of electronic music. You can catch me at events either in the mosh pits, shuffling, spinning poi, and on the lucky occasion doing some d'n'b step. Currently working towards a Psychology major specializing in Psychiatric Journals at California State University Sacramento. Other musical tastes are hip hop, rock, alternative, and indie.