This past weekend I had the opportunity to be a part of the press team for Colorado’s legendary EDM festival, Global Dance Festival. This was the first festival I was going to as press representing Bass Feeds The Soul, attending the festival as both a journalist and photographer. As I was heading to Red Rocks I had a massive mix of emotions. Part of me was off-the-wall ecstatic that I was given this opportunity. Another part of me was nervous as hell because I wanted to do a great job. The weekend turned out to be absolutely amazing and gratifying. Here is a recap of my weekend filled with EDM, ravers, and VIP treatment at the renowned Red Rocks.
I was very curious as to how this weekend would turn out because I went to Global Dance Festival alone. Typically, I know many people at most EDM events. However, for some odd reason, no one I knew was going to Global this year. I was rather excited to go into Global completely blind and alone because I knew I would be more willing to meet crazy, interesting people through out the weekend.
As soon as I got to Red Rocks I was shoved in a white van with a handful of other journalists and photographers and driven up a steep back road. The road was plastered with signs stating “Employees Only” and “Do Not Enter.” As we rode up I got to know the other press members in the van, everyone working for a wide variety of music-related websites. I exchanged numbers with a few people, received my media pass, and entered the festival.
I entered the festival with zero expectations. I was excited to see how Global managed to fit three stages into Red Rocks, and I was even more interested in whether the sound from all three stages would bleed horribly together. To my surprise the sound barely bled! I ran around Red Rocks like a little kid in a candy store, wanting to see everything there was to offer all at once. There was people on stilts, people in crazy costumes covered head to toe in kandi, and of course amazing music everywhere I turned! Red Rocks was transformed into a raver’s paradise!
As the sun was beginning to cool off the big acts began to hit the decks. One of this summer’s most popular up-and-comers, Kygo, took the main stage at 7:15, drawing a huge crowd. I was very excited for Kygo because when I saw him at Electric Forest his set was too packed and quiet to enjoy. He began playing and everyone around me began dancing their hearts out. I loved his track selection, until I noticed something peculiar. About every 15-20 seconds Kygo would take a break from having his hands in the air and delicately place only one finger on a knob. He would not twist or push the knob, simply just place a finger on it. After creating the illusion that he was actually doing something on stage, he would go back to putting his hands in the air. This was extremely disappointing to the point where I did not want to stay for the entirety of his set.
In my opinion the best set of the entire day came at the end of the evening. Kastle was set to take the NRG stage during the headlining act, Adventure Club. I decided to ditch Adventure Club’s generally disappointing set, and spend my final hour of Global Dance Day 1 at Kastle. This was my best decision of the entire day. He kept it fresh, funky, and futuristic- pleasuring all of the deep house heads on the Rocks. I spent the rest of the evening dancing with new friends and faces, enjoying the deep sounds of Kastle. Once the night had ended all I could think about was what was in store for Global Dance Day 2.
I got a later start on Day 2 because I was so exhausted from running up and down the stairs of Red Rocks the evening before. I instantly met up with a few of the people I had become friends with on Day 1, as Alvin Risk was about to begin. I was really looking forward to Alvin Risk because I had never seen him before and I really enjoy his recorded music. That being said, I found myself disappointed. To put it in the simplest of terms, Alvin Risk played it safe. It is beyond me why anyone playing at Red Rocks decides to “play it safe,” but when they do it is obvious. I spent the rest of Alvin’s set talking with the people around me, taking pictures of those around me, and anxiously awaiting Andy C.
As soon as Andy C came on I made sure to be in the VIP section to get a heavy dose of drum and bass. Andy C had MC Armanni Reign with him, providing just the right amount of commentary over Andy C’s vinyl selections. At times he would get the crowd hyped, and then at times he would burst out into full-on raps that meshed perfectly with the tracks. By the end of the set, Andy C had officially CRUSHED Red Rocks! Next up was Showtek, another artist I was curious/excited to see.
I had never seen Showtek before, but the Showtek I knew was all hardstyle. So, I went into their set anticipating a heavy hardstyle-filled hour and fifteen minutes. I am not the biggest hardstyle fan, but I rarely listen to it so I was willing to stay for a while. However, to my surprise their set was the furthest thing from hardstyle. The Amsterdam duo began throwing down some of the heaviest house bangers all while avoiding the cheesy big-room house songs. I found myself snapping pictures and stomping my feet all around the venue for majority of their set, enjoying every minute. I cut my good time at Showtek early to ensure catching every second of up-and-comers Odesza.
Odesza was the act I was most excited to see over the whole weekend. I had never seen them live, but their tracks are constantly playing in my headphones. I got to their set just as they began, sliding my way into the VIP section and unexpectedly running into some of the new friends I had made. From start to finish they had the entire crowd entranced- grooving, raging, and singing. They spoiled the crowd with several new songs and remixes. At one point a girl in front of me turned around and screamed, “ODESZA WINS THE WHOLE FESTIVAL!!” That statement could not be anymore accurate. From their mixing to song selections to live drumming, Odesza *excuse me * THREW THE FUCK DOWN!!
I left Odesza still singing and bobbing my head to tracks they had just played, not wanting to let go of their amazing set. However, it was time to get down and grimy at Day 2’s headliners, Destroid. The super group did not disappoint when it came to filthy, heavy dubstep. Decked out in Predator-style gear, Destroid simply “destroyed” my ears. The pain of forgetting my earplugs was so horrible, yet felt sooo good while the bass shook me from head to toe. As their set neared its end I could not stop thinking about how Global Dance Day 2 was even better than Global Dance Day 1. Once again, all I could think about was how great Global Dance Day 3 would be, especially because it was the “house music day”- my favorite.
I arrived to the third and final day of Global Dance Festival as the gates were opening to guarantee not missing any music. Sunday was “house day” on the mainstage, and the line up was STACKED. The house music on the mainstage gradually became more “commercial” as the night went on, but that did not take away from the quality.
I did not stray too far away from the mainstage the final day for a few different reasons. First, my body was simply exhausted from running up and down the stairs all weekend to snap photos of artists and Global attendees. Second, I loved all of the music at the mainstage. Finally, the security stopped allowing press members into the VIP viewing area of the NRG stage at the top of Red Rocks, making it very difficult to take good pictures of the artists.
In my opinion, the best two sets of the day were back-to-back while the sun was still awake in the sky. Oliver Heldens and Tchami both played great deep house sets, distracting everyone from the on and off rain. I thought it was entertaining to watch Tchami get the crowd moving all while decked out in full reverend apparel. The two deep house DJs played a wide variety of originals and remixes, keeping their sets fresh and unique.
Being a Chicago native, I can often be a little critical of house music. I’m not usually one for cheesy electro-house bangers, but they can sometimes be fun in the right setting. In the case of Sunday headliner, Zedd, it was very fun. The first hour of his set was inventive and explored a wide variety of styles and sounds. I found myself addicted to taking pictures of Zedd’s entire set, attempting to capture every moment via photographs. The final thirty minutes of Zedd’s set fell into the category of cheesy, electro-house bangers (ie. Clarity, Stay The Night, etc.), but it was still a fun time.
Overall, Global Dance Festival left a great impression on me. The 3-day EDM festival provided fans with a variety of genres- from house to trap to trance to dubstep. The staff was awesome, helping DJs hype the crowd, trading kandi, and dancing just as hard as the attendees. I would definitely recommend Global Dance Festival to anyone who loves dance music. The lineup aims to bring the newest names in the game, as well as some of the biggest names. It’s an eclectic melting pot of old school and new school ravers, as well as up-and-comers and legendary DJs- all hosted at the most amazing venue in the world.
Written by: David Giovannini
Photos by: David Giovannini