This is EDM Maniac’s biggest moments of 2016. Some of these events are favorite memories from our staff and others are monumental to the scene as a whole. Either way, it was a big year.
Drug-related tragedies have effected everyone in the dance music community this year. More than a few events have been forced to move or have been scrapped completely because of such circumstances. None of those events are as a much of a symbol of the dance music community as Fabric though. London is one of the premiere cities in the world for nightlife, and when such a historic club closed the outcry from the scene was deafening. Numerous DJs took to the internet to express their disappointment and their sorrow, prompting a massive campaign and even a hashtag. #savefabric
The twentieth anniversary of anything is worth celebrating. Especially when its the 20th anniversary of a celebration. Say what you will about EDC, it is a shining symbol of electronic music culture. It shows how far we’ve come, how strong we are, and how bright the future is.
Symbiosis Gathering is a festival that’s constantly in motion. Where other festivals are committed to setting down roots, Symbiosis is about expanding their vision. As such, their unexpected return to the Woodward Reservoir this year really was a special moment. It was the only time the festival has been held in the same location three times. For the people who had been there for the others, coming back for the last time this year was an especially ardent experience.
One thing that was great about 2016 was how dance music went back to the beginning. So much music had the flavor of the 70’s and 80’s. This trend was epitomized by Despacio at Coachella. Although the tent was meant to display the sheer epicness of the sound system, it was actually a dance music paradise complete with a giant disco ball and classic disco played on vinyl. Everyone should be knocking on wood in the hope that it will become a yearly establishment
Although DJ Mag still gets the most attention with Martin Garrix being at the top, dance music fans in the know heard about Claude Vonstroke’s crown for DJ Times. Sure such rankings may be arbitrary, but if anything they represent a broadening of taste within the scene.
6. Carl Cox Ends His Residency At Space
Ibiza is a place that is famous for it’s parties, and this year Ibiza lost one of it’s greatest parties. Carl Cox ended his 15-year-long residency at Space Ibiza in light of the club closing. Just like Fabric, this was a huge hit to the dance music community. Every night Carl performed at Space this summer was celebrated greatly, and DJs were lining up to be on the bill for each of them.
7. Kaskade at the LA Convention Center
Artists always love to celebrate their hometowns. Kaskade may not have been born in LA, but he’s called it home for quite a while and so he decided to celebrate it with his biggest solo show to date. He posted the set he played on his Soundcloud too. If you weren’t lucky enough to be there, give it a listen. You’ll feel the love all the same.
This may have just happened, but it’s actually a pretty big deal. Even though the Floss name will continue, the two of them together are the ones who basically invented trap. It might not be your favorite kind of music, but it can’t be denied that they started a movement. We’ll have to see where that movement goes now.
9. R.I.P. Bowie. R.I.P. Prince
These two musicians may not have been of the electronic variety, but their passing was felt in the entire community of music worldwide. The number of tributes and covers skyrocketed, but more importantly, musicians channeled the emotion they felt into their music.
10. Return of LCD Soundsystem
Five years isn’t be the longest hiatus ever, but up until they announced their return, no one had any reason to believe LCD Soundsystem would ever be back. Alas they were, and one of the biggest dance music bands of all time returned to the stage in fine style. Another indicator of dance music’s overall strength.
11. Calvin Harris Headlining Coachella
Yet another indicator of the strength of dance music was Calvin Harris landing a headlining slot at Coachella. A lot of people were disappointed by this (including me). A Coachella headlining slot is sacred, and Calvin is now among the likes of Gorillaz, Paul McCartney, and Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg. Whether Calvin deserves to be among those ranks is subjective, and the fact that he is demonstrates dance music isn’t just a fad.
12. Major Lazer at The Do Lab
There are haters out there who claim Coachella has lost all intimacy. Well those haters are wrong. Just last year for weekend 2, Major Lazer was the surprise guest to close the weekend at Do Lab. Don’t get me wrong Major Lazer’s newfound success has been earned, but in a small setting like that their sets are at max potential. Walshy’s interaction with the crowd becomes personal, and nobody can rock a DJ set in front of 100 people like Diplo.
13. BassPod Exploding at EDC
At first this may sound alarming, but Andy C (and everyone at Basspod that year) was completely shutting it down to the point that the stage caught fire. The only result was the stage closing for a brief period before festivities continued. This was included on the list for two reasons. The first is to represent the standard of safety at events like this. The second is to represent how dubstep and other styles of bass music came back in a big way in 2016.
14. Justin Martin Hello Clouds Afterparty
Justin Martin’s long-awaited sophomore album, ‘Hello Clouds’ was released this year on April 20. Naturally he christened the occasion with a club night at Sound in LA. Unnaturally, there was an after party at a random house that was all kinds of bananas. Other than Justin’s own wonky mixing in the unusual environment, special guests including Justin Jay, Mikey Lion, and Skrillex.
15. Haze At Project Z
Other than the huge accomplishment of EDC turning 20, this year was a huge success for Insomniac festivals. The classics like Nocturnal were great, and this year saw the ushering in of plenty of new festivals as well. Dreamstate was a massive success, and one-off nights like NRG and Project Z catered to niche audiences.
Project Z also received a special treat in the form of Haze. To those who aren’t aware, Haze is the old-school dubstep alter ego of Funtcase. Considering Funtcase is very fond of touring, catching a set of his isn’t that rare, but because of contractual agreements, he can’t be booked as Haze except for very special occasions. Project Z was one of those occasions, and the 50 or so people who saw that set at the tiny art car may be some of the only Americans that will ever get the chance.
16. Four Tet at Restless Nights
This year saw a resurgence in underground parties. The word “underground” is certainly ambiguous, but in this case it refers to a small, nontraditional venue (warehouses, storage units, etc.) that’s announced just hours before the event starts. Huge artists have been spinning these types of events all over the country including the incomparable Four Tet, who described his six hour set at the Halloween Restless Nights party as “a slice of heaven”.
17. Factory 93
In the spirit of those underground parties, Insomniac also started their Factory 93 series this year. Pasquale started out as a raver going to these types of events, and now that he holds his regal position within the scene, he has the power to provide such an event with top notch talent. So far this year Hot Since 82 and Solomun have headlined these events with Get Real coming on New Year’s Eve and Nicole Moudaber is bringing her MoodRaw vibes for the first event of 2017.
In an age where starting your own record label is almost as easy as making a Soundcloud page, many artist-run labels slip through the cracks; quietly releasing music. OWSLA is the opposite of that. When Skrillex and company started the label five years ago it was just a record label putting out music like the rest. Now it is a cultural establishment in LA with a strong community behind it. This year they’ve hosted pop-up shops, secret shows, movie premieres, and more while releasing music at the same time. OWSLA really represents what can be accomplished when creative people get together for the sake of creativity.
With all the oppression that has been in the news this year, it can be easy to feel like the people can’t accomplish anything. Well the Islington Council heard the cries of the community and Fabric will open its doors again in 2017. London is lucky to have a mayor that fully supports nightlife in the city, but what really turned it around for Fabric was participation from the public. Thousands of (British) pounds were donated to save the club, and hundreds of testimonials came in detailing just how important Fabric is to individuals and the scene as a whole. Keep in mind that if people can come together to save a club, there’s plenty of other things that can be saved through peaceful organization.