IDentity Festival (Part 1 – Photos & Recap): The Crystal Method, Kaskade, Rusko, Pretty Lights, Booka Shade, Nero, Le Castle Vania, and more!Posted by Sean Palmer
All photos by Sean Palmer
Think back, for a moment, to the last great dance party or concert you attended. Chances are, it was at night and indoors somewhere. Now imagine that it was instead held outside in sunny 100 °F weather. Clearly there are some disadvantages to this alternate scenario. Attendees of Skullcandy’s Gorge IDentity Festival on September 10th—largely a mixture of skimpily-clad ravers, body builders, and general party animals—had to take the good with the bad in order to survive and reap the experience’s rewards. On the upside, the festival showcased some of the biggest and best names of the electronic dance music realm at the stunning Gorge Ampitheatre—all of whom met or exceeded expectations. However, the average temperature during the 10-hour festival was 84 °F—reaching 99 °F at the midway point—and a preponderance of dubstep during the day created an especially strong imbalance for other acts.
The festivities officially began at 1pm. For the first few hours, only the most foolhardy were dancing their hearts out while wise spectators fought the urge, instead seeking refuge in what scant shaded viewpoints were available. The wisest of all remained at their campsites during the first half of the performances, conserving energy, saving money, and biding their time until the acts they wanted to see most took to the stage. As always, the food and drinks were shockingly overpriced, but most people ended up splurging at one point or another in order to retain a stable energy level. The evidence of these purchases became increasingly evident throughout the day as the ground became a bed of litter.
The festival’s daylight hours were dominated by a dubstep onslaught. Unless they were headlining, just about every non-dubstep act struggled to pull in even a fraction of the attendance. At times, it seemed as though most of the crowds were drawn indiscriminately to any stage pumping out that signature wobble bass. Nero‘s Joe Ray drew in the first huge mass with ground-shaking monster bass which very likely echoed to the other side of the Columbia River. Right after he finished, dubstep icon Rusko instantly filled up the main stage area, which had been near-deserted during The Disco Biscuits‘ performance an hour before. His energetic performance demonstrated exactly why he’s one of the most well-known names in dubstep. Though I didn’t see it myself, I heard that Datsik caused similar mayhem following Rusko’s performance.
Of course, the fact that dubsteppers were flooding in for those acts doesn’t mean there weren’t equally excellent performances going on elsewhere. Drivepilot and The Eye were two of the earliest acts to test the water (or should I say “heat”?), and both played sets that would have any good dance venue jumping. Although Drivepilot had a decent gathering of engaged dancers at the medium-sized stage, The Eye performed on the main stage to only a handful of supporters for most of his set (things got better towards the end). In the midst of the back-to-back dubstep trio, Le Castle Vania put on one of the festival’s best performances and drew in a substantial crowd of non-dubsteppers.
While most people were either watching Datsik or waiting for Pretty Lights at the main stage, ski-masked production god Chad Hugo (aka Shimmy Hoffa; of The Neptunes / N*E*R*D) went virtually unnoticed. Despite the almost non-existent turnout, Hugo and Hip Hop Dan (together known as Missile Command) cranked out a full set of jams unphased. Hugo tossed cans of Rockstar out to the handful of fans in attendance, and one lucky fan was randomly selected to receive a SynthStation25 (tossed straight from the DJ booth)—which Hugo signed for him afterward. DJ White Shadow, who was scheduled to perform right after Hugo, joined the duo briefly towards the end as a hype man.
By the time Pretty Lights and Booka Shade were up to perform, the temperature had finally dropped to an ideal outdoor festival level. Now the crowd’s true numbers were showing, divided almost exclusively between the two larger stages. Though there were few lights illuminating the gathering masses once night fell, the sea of dancing bodies was made evident by a thorough interspersion of glow-sticks, bracelets, and body paint. The LED screens that had already been dazzling during the day now expressed their full effects, as the stage setups also became more elaborate. Pretty Lights more than lived up to his moniker, with the most stunning light display of the night—made ever more enchanting by his music. On the other side of the grounds, tech-house duo Booka Shade put on a fiery display, with each of them poised inside of spacecraft-like stations.
The journey reached its final peak with dual headliners The Crystal Method and Kaskade. At the main stage, Kaskade literally towered above all prior acts on a giant platform beset with fog, hanging drapes, and projections. The audience swayed and tossed under a nocturnal spell, now completely detatched from the blazing world which they inhabited just a few hours prior. Back where Booka Shade left off, The Crystal Method delivered a relentless surge of a high energy set against wild, swirling visuals. A large stuffed tiger gazed over the audience as fog fired out of the duo’s crescent of synthesized instruments.
As the crowd departed in a mass pilgrimage toward the campgrounds, the air was alive with chatter about the performances of the day. Given that this was the IDentity Festival’s only Pacific Northwest stop, many people boasted about having traveled from surrounding states for the experience. The general consensus seemed overwhelming: the trip was worth it.