12 Sets You Need To Hear Before EDC Vegas

Art Department’s deep groove

Canada isn’t credited for an abundance of dance talent like, say, Sweden or the Netherlands, but Jonny White and Kenny Glasgow – better known as Art Department – are doing their country proud. The combination of the duo’s studio skills and Glasgow’s vocals has resulted in deep house burners with both dancefloor appeal and an emotional edge. Art Department’s tracks, whether originals or remixes (such as their iconic take on Let Love Decide by Roland Clark), have made them one of the leading assets on the Crosstown Rebels roster.

The duo’s EDC gig marks the midpoint of what’s already been an incredibly successful summer: White and Glasgow have already played Circoloco at DC10 in Ibiza, Manchester’s Parklife Festival and their own Social Experiment night in Barcelona. They also had one of the best shows of the weekend at Detroit’s Movement Festival in May. The set manages to retain its energy throughout, while also dabbling with different moods. The EDC crowd may not be quite as attuned to the underground as Movement, but Art Department will no doubt earn new fans among those looking for a non-mainstage experience.

@ARTDEPTMUSIC – Liveset @ Movement Electronic Music Festival (Detroit) – 26-05-2013 by Technolivesets on Mixcloud

Boys Noize going in hard

For the hardened fan, there’s two opportunities to catch Alex Ridha on stage at EDC: his back-to-back set with Skrillex as Dog Blood and alone as Boys Noize on the HARD stage. This time, it looks like Ridha is leaving his “terminator-esque” ‘Skull’ set up at home in favour of a DJ set.

“As a DJ I want to play only new stuff,” Ridha told inthemix earlier this year. That means cuts from last year’s album Out of the Black like XTC, Ich R U and What You Want, his new Go Hard EP and the latest from his ever-busy label. Ridha doesn’t take his duty as a DJ lightly: “I don’t have a problem sitting alongside other DJs who play more radio-friendly, cheesy stuff,” he told inthemix. “I’ve had it many times before where it actually works really well. For me, it’s a good challenge too, to go up there and play my sound and rock as many people as possible. That’s actually a lot of fun.”

“I can only speak for myself, I was always doing mixtapes at home, I was a warm-up DJ for many years; you get a good feeling of ‘the moment’ really and how to play to it. And that for me is the most exciting thing as a DJ, and I think a lot of DJs who don’t have that experience think they have to play the stuff people know to easily rock the crowd. But you can rock the crowd in so many different ways.” If you’re after a primer, Ridha’s Ultra Music Festival set should do nicely.

Avicii’s gamble

Avicii could’ve taken the easy route at Ultra Music Festival back in March and stacked his set with what Kaskade calls “big ass festival sounds”. Instead, the superstar Swede made a bold move. After opening with a succession of anthems, Avicii then invited live instrumentalists and singers onstage to showcase his album material. After EDM all day, the shades of country music and bluegrass came as a curveball. “He just turned Ultra Music Festival into a red-neck carnival,” wrote one disbelieving fan. “To be honest it isn’t the worst thing I have heard,” another reasoned, “but it sure as shit doesn’t belong on the mainstage.”

Avicii’s set ended up as one of the most talked-about from Ultra. A few weeks later, he met the criticism head-on with this hour-long mix, featuring the controversial new album tracks. “In a 75-minute set, I brought a 15-minute different breakdown with live musicians to a festival with non-stop dance music for three days straight, two weeks in a row,” he wrote.

So what can the thousands at the Las Vegas Speedway expect from Avicii? Less kazoo and banjo and more bangers, we’d expect. His Le7els label has been firing in 2013 with big-room gear, and he’s a pro at those melodic build-ups and honeyed vocals. We expect he’ll have a prime spot on the EDC mainstage, too.

Calvin Harris: made for mainstages

At last year’s EDC, Calvin Harris was on the mainstage as heavy winds forced the festival to shut down, just as night two was accelerating. So he’s got plenty to make up for when he steps up again at the Speedway for (god willing) an uninterrupted set in 2013. There’s certainly no shortage of mainstage-ready tunes from his own back-catalogue – it was just the other day when Calvin surpassed one Michael Jackson for the UK sales record of the most chart hits from one album with his blockbuster 18 Months.

Not that Calvin limits his sets to his own output. At this year’s Ultra Music Festival, he worked through cuts from Tommy Trash, Axwell, Basement Jaxx and Justice vs. Simian’s evergreen banger We Are Your Friends in his fast-moving hour-long slot. His decision to ditch live shows to focus on giving the DJ thing 100-percent has paid off: the energy’s always kept high and the tunes are always anthemic. Not sure what stage he’s on? Just follow the crowds.

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