Fear and Loathing at Lights Out Festival

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We walked into an almost empty warehouse. The younger kids outside of VIP were dancing relentlessly. The MDMA had already taken effect. Sunglasses on, lasers beaming, the night had begun and it was only 4 p.m.. The schedule was a little behind at this point, but no one who decided to show up that early really cared. Welcome to Lights Out Festival; guaranteed to put your lights out.

We started our drive to downtown Miami with a phone call from a friend who said that the gates were yet to be open. As dark and treacherous clouds loomed over the beautiful sky-rises, one thing was for sure: I was not going to stand in line in the rain. Thankfully, we showed up at the venue and no lines were formed, no angry ravers waiting to start raging. We walked through the white, silky curtains into a large warehouse where Run DMT, whom we thought we missed, was playing.

Only half of the duo was present at Lights Out. Dubstep bounced off the walls of the warehouse. The visuals were already in full swing. I thought that Run DMT’s set was a little all over the place, switching from hardcore Drum ‘n’ Bass to a softer popish dubstep that wasn’t as intense, to that very recognizable Skrillex sound. However, one drop and one flick of a switch and Run DMT had the whole crowd dancing, including myself.

As the end of his set neared, he was nice enough to let the early comers in on a new song, yet to be released. It started with a soft intro, something that I appreciate in dubstep. It is amazing how dubstep is able to go from completely laidback electro to loud womps. Anyways, the soothinng vocals that started the song grabbed my attention. Then, a distinctive bass line comes in signaling the change that I previously mentioned. The drop wasn’t too different from a dubstep drop, but what did impress me was how they made this drop complement the softer lyrics. DJ Icey was running late, so Run DMT continued to play for an extra 30 minutes, dropping hits like “Babylon.”

For those of you who don’t know much about DJ Icey, Rolling Stone says that he is, “one of the original Florida DJs responsible for kick-starting the American progressive house and trance scene.” His set was funky and electro-licious. He played some older songs from 2009-2010, while throwing in some newer hits. This was the first set that I heard one of the many remixes of The Red Hot Chili Pepper’s “Otherside.” However, I had never heard this remix before and it was quite good. DJ Icey took an old idea with this song and renewed it for a modern day crowd. Even though he is known for his influence in trance and progressive house, Icey’s set was far from it. He dropped songs like “Lightspeed” by Datsik and Kill The Noise. In my opinion, it was perfect for an opening, evening set.

Next up was Renegades of Funk, the popular Miami duo. They started with a remix of the Linkin Park song “Numb,” which was interesting to say the least. The crowd was still as diverse as can be; there were girls with a variety of colored wigs, mollie-walkers, steppers, and ravers playing with LED lights in the daytime.

The Renegades stayed true to that Miami House sound while making it their own distinctive sound as well. The song that caught my ear the most was a remix of the Tetris theme song that was a Bassjackers edit. Overall, the Renegades threw down sick drop after sick drop. The high energy of not only the DJs, but the crowd as well, is what I love about Miami concerts and festivals. Be sure to check out a short interview I did with them that will be posted in the near future.

Crizzly opened his set with “Levels,” quickly turned it off, came onto the microphone and said, “Fuck that shit. Let’s start this off right,” and continued to play his hit “Go Hard (Crizzly Remix).” By this time, the warehouse had transformed into a full-blown party. Booty dancing and crunkstep consumed the mass in front of me. The dubstep that Crizzly decided to play almost made me feel like I was going insane. It was extremely intense. The true bassheads come out when a true bass DJ starts to play, hence the ridiculous crowd and the more ridiculous bass. What impressed me the most with this set was the remix that Crizzly did of “Space Junk” and the heavy rap-based influence.

Lucky Date was one of my most anticipated performances of the night. The crowd was at it’s pinnacle, being the wildest it had been thus far. The young DJ started with some electro, but soon got the feel for the crowd and started throwing in some dubstep. Artists like Dillon Francis, Feed Me and Zeds Dead all practice this exciting combo of genres, but Lucky Date does so in such a clean-cut way. Josh from Renegades of Funk said, “Lucky Date is the reason why I know music theory in EDM.” Even though Lucky Date didn’t seem too into the crowd, I thoroughly enjoyed this set from start to finish.

Now all of the mainstream artists had already played. VIP was thinning out. I was disappointed to see that the majority of the crowd had left already too. However, the three biggest names of the festival had yet to go on! Damn Miami, I thought we partied ’til the break of dawn.

For RJD2’s set, they opened the section of VIP that was in front of the stage to general admission. His stacks of vinyls were impressive and intimidating. His smooth instrumentals started to fill the once chaotic room. What I found the most interesting was the comparison that can be made between RJD2’s style and the style that embodies rock and roll. You can tell what type of music influences him, yet his style and sound is so unique and different. His music was a much needed recuperation period for those of us that had been there all day, while still enjoying the sounds of an amazing artists. His set was cut way short, only allowing for a 30-45 min set.

Finally, the moment I had been waiting for: Felix Da Housecat. In my opinion, this was the best set of the day. Da Housecat has been in the EDM game before the abbreviation “EDM” was actually used. Thus, he knows how to please a crowd in just the right ways.

Everyone moved to the progressive house beats that he is famous for, but soon he surprised us with a more modern hardcore electro set that I was not expecting. Girls were still on top of guys shoulders and intimate couples still danced, their bodies in sync, with every intention of having an even better time as soon as they got to the privacy of their own homes. Continuous perfect combinations of altering the knobs made Felix Da Housecat’s set almost perfect. Those who remained on the dance floor, danced until they couldn’t anymore.

Felix Cartal was the last DJ on the lineup. His set was a grungy, hard, dirty mixture of electro and electro pop. Reminiscent to that of his bi-monthly podcast, “Weekend Workout,” Felix Cartal had me and those left in the crowd moving until the end of the night. His set was like the last stretch of a marathon, keep going until the you reach the end, until the music stops, and I enjoyed every bit of it. As his music was abruptly shut off and the bright florescent lights lit the previously pitch-black room, Felix Cartal turned and said, “Miami is weird.” As we do host an interesting group of characters and a completely different lifestyle from that of the rest of the country, I would have to agree and say that yes, Miami is, in fact, weird. Things happen here that wouldn’t happen anywhere else, and yet, this is one of the things that attracts me and others to this city. Felix was nice enough to have a quick conversation and picture, and off we all were in our separate directions.

As the final DJ took the stage, I couldn’t help but wonder how the festival was able to push their closing time back another two hours, yet it still wasn’t even 2 a.m. If the festival got pushed to 4 a.m., were we in for a special two and a half hour Felix Cartal set? Unfortunately, Felix Cartal was cut off about two hours early (according to the 4 a.m. closing time) as Lights Out wrapped up their eventful day and the cleaning crew started telling those left that it was time to go.

The lights in the warehouse had been turned on and a space once filled with ravers, lights, drinks and drugs was now an empty territory riddled with trash. The festival was over but where would the night take us next? Overall, I thought this festival could’ve done a better job with promoting and advertising, but nonetheless, it was still a successful event where many had a great time. The location was great, the artists were impeccable and the lights and visuals were on point. Miami needed a new summer festival, even if it was only one day. Thanks Lights Out for a wonderful time at a wonderful event; we can’t wait for your next Miami event!

 

via Bionic Beatlab

 

 

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