A tectonic shift is taking place in the EDM world, and if Decadence NYE 2015 was any indicator, Global Dance might soon find itself on the wrong side of the fault line.
The fifth edition of the New Year’s Eve massive took place over the evenings of the 30th and 31st at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, and it was about as suffocatingly Colorado as a rave can get. For most of the world, dubstep may be far enough behind us that we can laugh about it in the same way that you might laugh at your own wardrobe decisions while looking at old photos, but in the Mile High its cultural significance is still as monolithic as ever.
The lineup of this year’s installment of Decadence NYE unapologetically catered to the city’s staunch population of bass heads. As with previous years, organizers divided the third floor or “exhibit level” of the Convention Center into two main rooms billed “Spaceport” and “City Hall” and a connecting walkway large enough to house vendor booths, fanciful installations and EDM.com’s Silent Disco stage.
In 2014, the talent featured at either stage – which were then billed “Global Dance Arena” and “Bass Arena,” respectively – made for a sensible stylistic counterbalance. All the mainstagers could gather in the former room while all the bass heads could huddle in the latter, and anyone with enough sense not to resign themselves to one or the other could flit back and forth between the two.
In the most recent edition, however, the dominance of dubstep, trap and future bass artists on the lineup encroached on the healthy balance struck in recent years.
Of course, that’s not to say that there wasn’t plenty to wow attendees. On the first night, hard-hitting sets by UZ and Figure opened up the Spaceport stage while the sparkling future bass stylings of Dabin and JackLNDN set a more soothing tone in the opposite room. What So Not’s genre-bending set was overshadowed by the combined star power of Jack Ü (arguably the only thing Skrillex and Diplo’s overhyped project has going for it), but an impressive livetronica performance by The Floozies picked the City Hall room’s spirits back up in time for Bassnectar – whom many felt was upstaged by the closing act, Gramatik.
The evening was not without its speed bumps, though. Hot Since 82 – the only act on the bill that gave Decadence NYE any underground house appeal whatsoever – canceled mere hours before the beginning of his set. While his management officially stated that he couldn’t make the gig due to an ear infection, you can’t help but wonder if his set time being wedged between Galantis and Tommy Trash – or the mass exodus from the stage during Claude VonStroke’s performance the year prior – weighed on his decision.