Rave: Hey, It <i>Could</i> Work This Time

Aug 17th, 2007 // 13 Comments

Trance is back! Trance never went away! Fresh from enjoying the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ sloppy seconds at Coachella and performing for 15,000 troops ravers at a California staging area for the invasion of Nevada stadium, trance kommandant Tiesto is trying to mount a comeback for the only post-rave dance music genre that ever truly affected the kind of Americans who also buy Dave Matthews CDs and list “4:20″ as a Facebook interest. The Hollywood Reporter seems hell-bent on creating the illusion that electronic music is primed to sweep the country like a shadow army-in-waiting made up of radical anti-rock insurgents in balloon pants, rather than being something more like a random, smelly nut shouting on a streetcorner that gets the occasional blog reader to download a Justice track:

On August 11, the Dutch DJ performed a 5 1/2-hour set in front of a sold-out crowd of more than 15,000 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. It was the largest-ever single-DJ show in North American history, featuring full-production and arena-scale theatrics the likes of which the dance community has never seen.

While the DJ culture in America is firmly entrenched in the underground, Tiesto is capitalizing on his worldwide stature to not only bubble into the American mainstream but create an American mainstream. As major labels renew their interest in acts influenced by electronic and dance music and the DJ culture becomes more prominent among the jet set, dance music is poised to break through in America as it has around the world.

Holy 1998. Where to even begin? Well for one thing, apparently they don’t remember that as little as seven years ago trance was already a veritable cult audience social disease among this country’s young people–Paul Oakenfold 4Life–and every attempt to mainstream rave in America has failed, at least on a Wal-Mart/Clear Channel level. Miserably. I mean a real lead-balloon flop, even with the spazzy hype pumped up to put “electronica” over the top. And often with big-time financial fallout for the industry folks involved. Still, Tiesto at least comes off as realistic–if insufferably smug. (“I look at America as my little playground.” Oh, fuck off.) And as a dance fan, I guess I’m kinda pleased with the mainstream coverage, the fact that Tiesto’s music is like eating a sack full of uncooked rigatoni at gunpoint notwithstanding.

Dutch DJ Tiesto Slowly Builds U.S. Following [Reuters]


  1. Audif Jackson Winters III

    In a strange way, a guy like Tiesto is analogous to prominent jam bands. He can draw consistent, fairly large crowds when he tours, but never sells a substantial amount of records (mix *or* “artist”).

    Tiesto is an anomaly, though. Probably the closest guy to him in terms of drawing power is Paul Van Dyk, and I don’t think he’s ever moved beyond theaters in the U.S. Sasha and Digweed’s attempt to “do arenas” three or four years ago (Delta Heavy) completely flopped.

  2. Cam/ron

    “I am the living proof that dance music has evolved, and that it’s not just about drugs anymore.”

    Lies make Baby Jesus cry.

  3. Audif Jackson Winters III

    @Cam/ron: I laughed at that, too.

  4. daviday

    Preposterous. There’s so much wrong with this story I don’t know where to being. Seems to me that Tiesto is losing fans, not gaining them. This is a classic though.

  5. DeeJayQueue

    Tiesto is like BT dipped in sucksauce. They even use the same singers on their tracks, and remix each other all the time. I bet Tiesto has “BT+DJT=BFF” laser etched into his macbook pro. Yeah, Adagio for Strings was good, so is mayonnaise. Now STOP PUTTING IT ON EVERYTHING.

  6. Jess Harvell

    @daviday: oh my god, my eyes are watering

  7. nulldevice

    > They even use the same singers on their tracks,
    > and remix each other all the time.

    Well, yes, because every major electronic-music record contract has a “Hawkshaw/Johnston” clause, requiring that every album have at least two songs featuring Kristy Hawkshaw and/or Jan Johnston.

    I swear *everybody’s* worked with at least Hawkshaw.

    Tiesto is still a great DJ, but his own output has been dull, beyond the occaisonal guest appearances. His main trick seems to be slowly turning the envelope release knob back and forth while playing the same three note pattern over and over.

    Also, his version of “Adagio for Strings” was an affront to everything good and right in the world. If you’re going to use Samuel barber, at least pick more than the first, entirely unresolved, 16 measures. William Orbit knew this, Ferry Corsten knew this on his Orbit remix…why Tiesto never grokked this I’ll never understand.

  8. Anonymous

    Trance: dance music for people who can’t dance.

  9. gilligan

    The industry push for dance acts to take over in the late 90s was quite absurd. DJs may entertain by playing records, but that certainly doesn’t make them entertaining to watch. Going to see a DJ play to 20,000 people has always struck me stupid. Why would you want to do that? The funny thing is, after the big execs left “electronica” to die, the knob twiddlers did learn how to entertain. See: Basement Jaxx, Daft Punk…

    But Tiesto? Never underestimate the power of the guido. Like raves, drugs, and death, he never goes away.

  10. rogerniner

    Any idiot who thinks “rave” or “trance” can make a comeback needs to look in any record store’s electronc/dance section under the beyond cluttered bargain bin/99 cent sale rack… there’s your freakin’ revolution.

  11. MJ

    Anybody who touches “Adagio for Strings” is dead to me. It’s like frying caviar.

  12. the earl grey

    underground house music will never die

    the media/industry attempt to sell ‘electronica’ in 1997 or 2007 makes me puke. fuck the industry

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