Concert Review: IDentity Festival

IDentity Festival came to San Diego this summer

By Spencer Gallardo

IDentity Festival
Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre
August 18

Identity Festival San Diego


On Saturday, August 18, 2012, San Diego once again hosted Identity Festival at the sold out Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre in Chula Vista. According to its Twitter bio, Identity Festival – or simply “ID Fest” – is “the first ever touring all electronic festival.” What this means is that the performers at ID Fest are exclusively artists from the up-and-coming genre of music called electronic dance music (EDM). While the DJs aren’t necessarily performing their songs “live” per se, EDM shows really aim to combine what is seen and heard to create an environment much like a party rather than a concert. And let me tell you – the only thing crazier than the sold out crowds were the outfits they wore.


While the debates over “button pushing” and DJ versus producer rage on there is still no denying that the most crucial element of any EDM show is the crowd. The three stages at ID Fest offered a wide variety of performance and musical styles, which produced a diverse environment and experience for each festival-goer. The two large stages definitely hosted the larger crowds (the “third” stage was nothing more than a small plaza in the walking areas between the two main stages where a live DJ was performing), however the iHome main stage – located in the amphitheater itself – had a distant and almost segregated feel to it. Event staff was forced to deny access to the pit to any non-VIP ticket holders due to the overwhelming turnout at the festival. This forced viewers to remain in the seated and grassy areas further back, separating them from the real party environment. While in many ways the venue was very accommodating as a whole, perhaps an amphitheater isn’t the best choice of venue for an EDM show.


For a one-day traveling festival, ID Fest did a tremendous job in gathering a variety of talent from all different sub-genres of dance music, ranging from trance and electro to dubstep and hardstyle. Here is a recap of some of my favorite shows of the day:


Best Show: Eric Prydz

After seeing Prydz headline ID Fest it’s clear he has come a long way since his first single “Call On Me” gained international fame in 2004. This was one of the better trance shows I have ever seen and the crowd really seemed to respond in a positive way. His light show was mesmerizing; he put use to lasers, smoke canons, and a full backdrop of LED lighting, creating fluid images that put the viewer, fittingly, into a trance-like awe.


Most Surprising Show: Showtek

Rather than see Porter Robinson for the third time this summer, I decided to see Showtek for the first time. I have a strong distaste for hardstyle music so I had my doubts about seeing the Dutch duo live; to my delight, Showtek not only played just one hardstyle song, but also included remixes of crowd-pleasing songs like House of Pain’s “Jump Around” and Avicii’s “Levels,” to name a few.


Best DJ Performance: Noisia

If there’s one thing this Dutch drum and bass (dnb) trio knows how to do it is simply throw down. As it is, dnb is a much more fast-pace sub-genre of EDM; but, to see the three DJs jump and dance just as energetically as the crowd for the entirety of their set was absolutely astonishing.


Loudest Show: Excision

The other ID Fest headliner, Excision, put on one of the best overall shows at the festival as well as one of the loudest most grimy dubstep shows that I have ever seen. His set was noticeably louder than Showtek’s, who directly preceded Excision at the smaller of the two main stages. To put this all in to perspective, during some of the more mellow parts of Eric Prydz’ set you could hear the kick of the bass coming from Excision’s stage – and the two stages were facing opposite directions.


Honorable Mention: Paul van Dyk

Had I seen the entirety of Paul van Dyk’s show, I could have easily listed his set as “Best Show,” “Most Surprising Show,” and “Best DJ performance.” His trance style was a little heavier than Prydz’ and his light show may have been equally as eye-catching had he not played his set during the day (the sun actually set as he was finishing his performance). It seems odd to call the German DJ old at the age of 40; however, in a genre as young as EDM, van Dyk is definitely one of the “legends” of trance and dance music.