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October 23, 2021

EDM Concerts: David Guetta’s got a dirty little secret

By ALEX HUROWITZ | February 21, 2013

Electronic dance music (EDM) is one the most popular trends in music right now, especially the live performances. Tickets to festivals like Ultra, Electric Daisy Carnival, Electric Zoo and the countless others similar to them are a hot commodity to come by. There is even somewhat of a dress code for these events, consisting mainly of neon clothes and glowing bands, spandex, bandanas, sunglasses and pinnies. In addition, there is a massive sub-culture involving the use of amphetamines, especially MDMA (a.k.a. molly) or ecstasy, in order to heighten the euphoria exemplified by the music. However, despite all the happiness and fun involved, some questions have been raised due to the higher ticket and performer prices. What are these electronic “musicians”/”DJ’s” actually doing live? Are they performing and mixing everything live or is it all preprogrammed? Is that worth the money to see?

Answers to these questions provided by the “musicians” themselves do not portray them in the best light. Just last summer, famous producer deadmau5 (real name: Joel Zimmerman) ranted on a tumblr post that most, if not all electronic producers, including himself, just “press play.” They do nothing live and their performances are planned ahead of time. According to these producers, anyone with knowledge of Ableton Live could do what deadmau5 does live. He defends this reality by stating that all his significant work is done in the studio. He claims that his live performances should not be taken into account considering how credible a producer he is. Other electronic producers, such as Girl Talk and Bassnectar, went online as well, practically saying that they just press play as well. However, they tried to cover up this indiscretion by using technical jargon to give the illusion that their work is way more complicated than it actually is.

While this may come as a surprise to some, it should not be mind shattering considering what those shows are like. There are countless YouTube videos showing producers, like David Guetta, playing only one track through their mixers or turntables. In other words, they only utilize a single premade mix throughout a show. Also, others like Steve Aoki are so involved in crowd participation, that it is humanly impossible for him to be mixing tracks. Another telltale sign are the light shows involved with the performances. They are so intricately made and fit the songs within the mix so well, that it does not seem feasible for them to have been made on the spot.

For someone who attends many concerts, this is very disheartening to see and hear. It is equivalent to paying someone a large amount of cash for them to create an  iPod playlist for a party. Would you pay just to see a band like Radiohead or Arcade Fire be on stage and play the studio recording of their songs off of a computer? These shows are just an example of using brand recognition to create an insanely high demand, which allows for increasing prices. These EDM producers should try to experiment with their acts, and mix tracks live in response to the crowd’s reactions. This is the best and most worthy kind of crowd participation you can get at a concert. In addition, if these producers are so proficient at production in the studio, why can they not try and apply that prowess live? If they actually possess said skill set, they should be able to find an efficient way to present their tracks and mixes live instead of just pressing play. Of course, it is up to you if you want to pay those exorbitantly high ticket prices to see your favorite EDM acts. Just keep the previous information in mind.

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