Concert Review: LED presents OMFG! NYE
By: Aidan Meehan
Valley View Casino Center
30,31 December, 2013
On December 30th and 31st, at the Valley View Sports Arena, LED Events truly set the bar this New Year’s Eve for electronic music in Southern California. This year’s OMFG! was an incredible end to a year of amazing events by LED, with an unique lineup, powerful and engaging performances across the board, and high quality lights and stage production.
The sheer number of electronic events in the area for NYE astounded me. Promoters had to be very competitive with their events to differentiate themselves from the crowd. LED did just this by getting a diverse and talented lineup, comprised of artists spanning many genres, both established and up-and-coming. OMFG! San Diego was also uniquely positioned because it was a two day event, offering concert-goers a more immersive experience. When I arrived to the arena I noticed some choices that LED made to ensure a safe and enjoyable event for all. First off, the staff had chosen to provide light-up wands for free at each entrance. An interesting choice because while many events organizers have chosen to limit what ‘rave-toys’ attendees have access too, LED freely gave some at the door and didn’t restrict people from bringing in light-gloves, kandi, or any other standard rave gear. This fostered an amazing environment inside the venue as everyone was truly dressed to the nines for their NYE experience. Secondly, much emphasis was placed on safe access to water with fountains placed conveniently around the arena and provided in the media area behind the bar with unlimited access. This kept concert-goers from dehydrating, reducing any potential medical emergencies during the event. Finally, the most important change I noticed was the huge upgrade to the lights system for this event, above and beyond what I had seen at other LED events. The stage was cradled in a curved and staggered LED screen, coupled with a complex ring of lasers that circled the crowd at the front.
The massive energy of the early crowd and the new stage boded very well for the rest of the night, which was kicked into high gear by Los Angeles based producer Brazzabelle, a rare female star in the EDM world. She played an energetic mix of progressive and electro house to warm up the event’s early attendees, and passed off the decks to Miami producer Henrix for the next set. Henrix has been named one of 2013’s truly breakout artists, gaining attention by releasing tracks with more established Miami producers such as GTA and with his heavy-hitting, bouncy festival house.
I find that the early sets of the night, when the majority of the crowd hasn’t arrived, can often be some of the most fun. The crowd at LED events has been increasingly more friendly and music-oriented, in contrast with ‘ravers’ at many other events that are just there to party. During these early sets is when I find I meet the most interesting people, people who focus their experience on a connection with the DJ and getting the most out of the sets.
Next up in the evening was a performance by veteran trap DJ Bro Safari, one of my favorite sets of the night. Highlights included an edit of Yeah Yeah Yeah’s classic “Head Will Roll”, Jackal’s trap anthem “Shakedown” and his breakout 2013 track “The Drop”. His set offered a change in pace from the opening house sets, energizing the crowd with the bass-oriented minimal trap sound.
The mysterious Genre-defying Feed Me was lined up to play the nights next set. With the recent release of his highly-anticipated album Calamari Tuesday, his set was positioned to be one of the best of the weekend, and he did not disappoint. Drawing from a massive catalogue of incredible tracks, he set the arena on fire, keeping the crowd on their toes with a eclectic mix of euphoric house, dirty dubstep and groovy moombahton. Favorites were his collaboration with Crystal Fighters “Love is All I Got”, and earlier releases “Trapdoor” and “Chain Smoker.” Another impressive part of Feed Me’s set was the lights, the capabilities of the system were demonstrated to their fullest extent during his hour. This trend continued during the set of house-giant Madeon, who followed up Feed Me with an anthemic set that turned the arena’s energy up even higher. Madeon has a unique place in the music industry because his performances are not created on traditional DJ equipment, and thus his sets use technological features that other performers don’t have access to. His signature complex electro-house sound filled the stadium as the crowd was enthralled by classics such as “Finale”, “Icarus” and the 37 song mashup that brought him to fame “Pop Culture”, looped and manipulated in a way enabled by his use of Ableton Live and software controllers. Madeons set was by far one of the best of the event, showcasing his musical talent and ability to connect with a crowd.
Laidback Luke and Nervo closed out the night with masterful sets accompanied by the most stunning light-shows of the entire night. Laidback Luke surprised the crowd by throwing in a mind-blowing trap section into his house-oriented set, while Nervo’s live vocals energized the arena by connecting with the crowd on a new level. The night came to a close and the crowd was corralled out of the arena by attentive yet firm security.
After a day of much needed rest I made the journey back to Valley View for the big night, to call in the New Year properly. I started my night with the hip-hop influenced productions of San Diego based Ookay, who threw down an electrifying set. Some set favorites were his remix of Steve Aoki’s “Boneless”, his recently released “Stick Up”, and fellow trap producer Kennedy Jones remix of “Suavamente.”
To continue the trap-heavy night was the Parisian breakout artist DJ Snake, who has garnered the attention of a global audience with his incredible style and numerous releases in 2013. His set was also a favorite of the event because of his high-energy style, amazing song choices and fast-paced transitions. Highlighted tracks were his breakout track “The Bird Machine”, his closing song “You Know You Like It” a remix of AlunaGeorge, and his newly released hit with Lil’ Jon “Turn Down For What”. DJ Snake demonstrated a mastery of mixing with his skillful transitions and live mashups, prepping the audience for the countdown into the New Year, led by GTA. At first when I saw the time schedule and saw that GTA would be on the decks for the countdown, I was slightly hesitant, but I was proved wrong as soon as they began their mix. GTA was an excellent choice for the last ten seconds of 2013, dropping a diverse mix of trap and moombahton that kept the whole floor on it’s feet without fail.
I was continuously impressed with the sets performed in the first few hours of 2014. Boys Noize played a techno/electro oriented set filled with industrial-style beats, both original and borrowed. Nero performed one of the most jaw-dropping sets I have seen in years, mixing their Grammy-Winning dubstep with progressive house to create an epic atmosphere. Despite Diplo being almost a half an hour late due to his other NYE obligations, Nero kept the crowd happy and engaged with an interesting choice, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” killed time until Mad Decent’s label head arrived. Diplo was everything anyone could have expected from him. His set was incredibly curated with banger after banger. He worked in personal productions such as “Express Yourself”, “Boy Oh Boy”and Major Lazer’s “Watch Out For This”, with the best tracks from labelmates and friends such as Dillon Francis, Baauer, and DJ Snake. Diplo closed out the night with a collaboration of EDM’s most innovative artists, Flume’s remix of Disclosure’s single “You and Me”, one of 2013’s must listen tracks.
LED Events knocked NYE out of the park with impressive work on every front. Each artist played at their best, and the lineup choices were spectacular and well thought out. Stage production and lights were above the standard and the crowd was energized and purely happy to be spending their last moments of a wonderful year with LED. 2014 will be a great year for the company, with their next event a Third Anniversary celebration on February 17th.