Let’s recount 2013: EDM (electronic dance music) in the United States was believed by the masses to be nothing more than a viral video about a kooky dance called "The Harlem Shake." It was loud and hyper, devoid of true meaning. “It’ll never last,” parents said in an effort to comfort themselves. Even EDM maven Deadmau5 (aka Joel Zimmerman) slammed the genre—proclaiming during a South by Southwest panel that all “the songs sound the same.” And in a scathing profile on the late (and great) artist Avicii, journalist Jessica Pressler described his passion’s sole purpose as “...to keep the Ecstasy-dosed, champagne-soaked masses moving.”
The town’s tourism leaders saw the boom and wanted to revert to a time when Palm Springs was the ultimate tourism oasis for the 20-something crowd, but they didn’t necessarily know how to pull people in beyond flimsy newspaper ads. “In my opinion, if you want people to come you have to give them a reason, give them an experience.” For Mclean, the tourism bureau’s obliviousness signaled an opportunity for him—to throw the experience he knew his peers would love. “Obviously there was some sort of naivety to thinking I could just throw a festival without any experience doing ticketed events.” Instead of ruminating on why it wouldn’t work, he thought “Why not?”
That perception that electronic artists are just hitting buttons follows them on stage too. EDM has been flanked by live reviews that describe a bored individual behind a computer and I can’t say I disagree with them all the time. Electronic artists, who don’t have a mic stand and live instruments as props, have to work harder to put on a memorable performance. Be it their age, their pure talent, or a combination of the two, Louis the Child hit the stage on Saturday at dusk to demonstrate an infectious energy that forced anyone out of the pool, away from the bar and onto the dance floor. Almost immediately—while Hauldren turned the knobs—Kennett hopped on the deck, ignited by the flashing spotlight above and technicolor electronic backdrop. He was gangly, skipping to his own creation in adidas gym shorts before a shoeless Hauldren joined him to communicate that neither were their to just perform for a crowd, but to also party with thousands of their friends.
And Mclean is confident that the country's music lovers are ready to really get to know the richness that EDM can provide: “I think, from here, we can start drilling further into the different parts of electronic music. We can go wider as well as deeper,” Tyler imagines. “If you look at the success of this show, it feels like we’re just getting started.”