The Shrine Expo Hall has become one of the very few venues in the Los Angeles area which can handle the capacity and energy from an EDM crowd, unlike a club; the venue itself can hold up to a few thousand people. Over the course of 2013 the Shrine was blessed to host a variety of DJs and fan-goers alike. As one of the last shows to close out the 2013 season at the Shrine Expo Hall, Alesso was scheduled to bring his much anticipated ‘Uprising’ tour (alongside Matt Goldman and Clockwork) to the “city of angels” for a show that we must say left us with much more than I had intended on experiencing.
Arriving to Shrine on Friday, November 25th, I was filled with energy and anticipation. Alesso has always been someone I admired. His sets have become some of my favorites and for the most part I’ve always looked at him to find a way to deliver a hit single. Once inside the venue I was greeted by a comforting set of uplifting progressive house and groovy tech-house by Matt Goldman. Needless to say it was quite fitting as Clockwork took over the stage shortly after ,and from then on I knew I was in for a night that I would never forget.
As Clockwork energized the crowd with his big room sound consisting of a heavy bass track list, one could easily say he did just what he was sent to do along with Matt: leave the crowd wanting more. Just in time, the clock struck 11:45PM and Alesso’s huge LED wraparound displays on the stage were unveiled, and opening sequence played on three massive LED screens, one of which was curved behind the decks.
With Matthew Koma’s vocals reciting the line “the sun hits like a bullet of faith and then suddenly I’m wide awake…” Alesso started off the night with his hit singe “Years” while the LED panels told the story behind the song from the music video itself. As soon as that first drop from the opening sequence hit, my soul sank a bit as I knew this was the set that was going to leave me breathless and release all that emotion that I had been saving just for this show.
For Alesso, I could tell that he was set out to deliver, keep the energy going, and not let down the city of Los Angeles. Playing his hits such as “Clash” and “ Calling” while mixing it with other bangers such as “Sound of the Underground (S.O.T.U)”, “Starlight”, and “Reload”, I was taken back at how Alesso crafted such an established energetic set much like his Electric Zoo set back during Labor Day weekend. I must mention though that my emotions got the best of me when the tracks “Under Control” and “City of Dreams” overtook the whole venue. Looking around in the crowd, I could see the faces of many heartfelt fans reciting the lyrics.
With CO2 cannons that shot all the way up to the ceiling and laser beams which dazzled the crowd, I started noticing that the set was sounded a bit too familiar. I had heard this exact same set with the exception of a few songs added in and removed during Electric Zoo. Sure enough unfortunately I was right, as I started naming the track list and I was identifying every song in the exact same order.
Before closing off the show was Alesso’s mix of his hit “Pressure” (which reminded me of Steve Angello’s closing set during Escape 2011) mashed up with “Don’t You Worry Child” something that I hinted was the end of the show. He of course ended his set with his remix of “If I Lose Myself.” I was left with questions and an unsettling feeling that I had expected a much more complex set, however besides keeping up the energy for a good 2 hours, I wondered why the set was pretty much the same. Had this same set been played since September? These questions flooded my mind during and after the show.
I must also point out that the crowd really played a huge role in the overall vibes of the night. There were more males than females and while I do not see a problem with it (cause music is music at the end of the day, something that is not limited to just one gender) something that did trouble me was (while trying to enjoy a space in the front) the constant hollering of “no homo bro” and “don’t push or touch me! I’m not gay!” really did not sit well. Mind you, the people yelling it out were the same guys trying to push further into the crowd, and there was a lot of them.
My mind wondered, “Since when did a person’s sexuality become an issue at a EDM event?” We all were here for the music (or so I thought), not to hear a person’s closed-minded judgment. The constant rudeness with the people around me from pushing (even in the back where there was plenty of space) and the abundant amount of people sitting down in areas designated for a standing dancing crowd, left me feeling a bit disappointed as many facial expressions I observed said it all. I even witnessed a girl passed out on the floor, without anyone offering her help. By the time I even was able to do anything about it, the medical staff on site made sure she was safe and responsive (something I am grateful for at all the shows: the medical staff any event).
As someone on the EDM Maniac team who has attended plenty of shows around the country over this year and prior, I try to convince myself that maybe I am just spoiled. Spoiled in the sense that maybe I got used to being around crowds who enjoyed the music and used the shows as a place to feel safe and welcomed. Instead of attending an event because it’s commercial radio success. We forever will remember Alesso as being Sebastian Ingrosso’s mini protégé as he was just being introduced into the scene. His overall success as an artist is not only a testament to his talent, but his ability to sell out shows to both new and old fans. But I guess begs the question – how can we as community introduce new members into our family without the pre-judgmental attitudes and not-so-nice behavior? This is something we need to continue to evaluate as EDM becomes more recognized.
If anything, this show was a reality check and a chance to ask myself and ourselves how we can improve the community as it grows and how we can nurture the peace, love, unity and respect that this community is grounded on. I had to tell myself that with EDM officially crossing over into commercial radio, the environment that I once knew isn’t the same anymore and perhaps never will be. However, that won’t stop me from going to an event or turn me into a cold hearted person; if anything its helped open my eyes and taught me that regardless of what happens to this community I’ll always be the guy trying the spread “PLUR.” You need to be those guys too. We need to remind ourselves why we fell in love with this community. The music. The people. The memories. And when anything happens we should constructively look for answers and do our best to always stay positive and empowered by each other. Let the music guide the way.
The EDM Maniac team would like to thank everyone who invited us to this event, and we look forward to closing out this new year with a couple more shows including LED Presents “OMFG NYE ” and Insomniac’s white-attire “White Wonderland.”
Eddy Leon for EDM Maniac