New Year's Eve Extravaganza: A Decadence Recap
The outdoor floodlights lit up the night sky above downtown Denver, visible from miles away in every direction. Tens of thousands of people descended on the Colorado Convention Center, flooding the surrounding streets and shuffling through the front doors in the shadow of the iconic Big Blue Bear statue. Once past the ticket check, the electricity amongst the crowd began to brim over as fans shouted in excitement and broke into jogs to get their first glimpse of Decadence 2013, where they would soon see, among others, Tiësto, Bassnectar, Above & Beyond, Datsik, 12th Planet, BT, Dada Life, Nervo, Pierce Fulton, TJR, and of course, hometown hero and Grammy nominee Pretty Lights.
The brightly lit lobby gave way to a stark dichotomy of darkness and vibrant neon as fans entered the cavernous convention hall. Exploring the massive 584,000 square foot exhibit hall revealed a cacophony of sounds and a mosaic of colorful art around every corner, including captivating ceiling installations of inflatable shapes.
Performers on stilts and oversized unicycles roamed the venue throughout the night, keeping the areas in between the stages lively and full of surprises. The official EDM.com booth - located smack dab in the middle of the hall - was backed by a massive illuminated structure, while the long, serpentine table overflowed with free bracelets and other merchandise commemorating the launch of EDM.com. The booth was the site of numerous “meet and greet” sessions with producers, including Dada Life, Pierce Fulton, Keys N Krates, Bass Physics, and Paul Basic.
Also joining in on the fun was an organization we are very proud to partner with - Electric Family. Proceeds from every bracelet Electric Family sells go towards providing meals for children and families through Feeding America. Bracelets available at Decadence included officially endorsed Adventure Club and Fedde Le Grand pieces (with Krewella and Markus Schulz editions on the way).
Early in the first night, TJR set things off with his trademark high-energy style, and even blessed the crowd with a listen to his brand new single, which crafted more of a “big room” feel than his traditional sound. Dada Life came soon after, setting the tone for their set by opening up with their raucous remix of Major Lazer’s “Bubble Butt,” accompanied by outrageous, cartoony visuals featuring, what else, massive derrieres. The packed crowd began to reach what felt like peak energy level, despite the fact that the night wasn’t even halfway over. Little did we know how much wilder things would get.
A major surprise came during Break Science’s set when Pretty Lights climbed onto the stage to lay it down on the bass guitar, showcasing his inherent musical abilities while generating buzz for his closing set the following night. Meanwhile, Tiësto was absolutely obliterating the mass of people gathered at the Global Dance Arena for his set. The legendary producer set the bar unbelievably high for the crowd energy level; so many fans were packed in that it was nearly impossible to get within one hundred feet of the stage. The Dutch producer played his new single, “Red Lights,” and even dipped into hardstyle territory towards the end of his set, which received a phenomenal response from the thousands of elated fans.
As soon as Tiësto left the stage, the moment finally arrived for the launch of EDM.com. The renowned Alan Endorfun delivered a rip-roaring introduction and the launch presentation began, featuring support from Krewella, Martin Solveig, Cedric Gervais, Datsik, Cazzette, and Dirtyphonics. After hearing from the producers, the final countdown was on, culminating in a dazzling explosion of visual effects as the platform went live around the world. This moment signified the realization of the dreams of the EDM.com founders and team members, many of whom have been working tirelessly on the project for three years. Not backed by any corporation or major funding source, this scrappy group of music lovers made EDM.com a reality through pure grit, determination, and a willingness to make difficult sacrifices in their lives in support of the greater goal: to build the world’s premier electronic dance music platform. As the cascade of colorful confetti fluttered to the floor, team members hugged and soaked in the auspicious moment.
Triad Dragons was up next, and the Denver-based trio kept everyone’s hands in the air song after song leading into midnight. Over at the Bass Arena stage, Beats Antique was laying down the penultimate set of the night. Clad in animal masks, the group utilized live instruments for their performance, offering a change of pace from the other acts of the evening. Their set was decidedly groovy, accompanied by borderline bizarre visuals and an abstract inflatable creature on stage. The band played a remix they crafted for Bassnectar, segueing smoothly into the highly anticipated closing set of the night.
Bassnectar delivered everything the fervent crowd wanted and then some, controlling the flow of energy masterfully to maximize the big moments of his set. The vibe of the crowd could best be described as controlled energy – almost everyone in attendance was going very hard, but an air of friendliness and respect pervaded the entire crowd. Bassnectar even dropped an ID to whet our appetites for his new music. The 90-minute set came to a powerful conclusion in an eruption of bass and laser lights, and the roughly 30,000 people in attendance headed home to recharge for round two: New Year’s Eve.
After a long night’s (and day’s) sleep, the New Year’s Eve revelers returned to the convention center for another rowdy evening of partying to a varied palette of music. Only an hour and a half passed before it was time for a headliner-caliber performance from Above & Beyond. With rainbow-colored Group Therapy umbrellas hovering sporadically over the crowd, the gathered fans sang along emphatically with outstretched arms to all of Above & Beyond’s hit songs. The strongest reactions came for their new single, “Mariana Trench,” and for “Prototype,” the debut single of Artificial, a new collaboration between trance heavyweights Norin & Rad and Andrew Bayer.
The conclusion of Above & Beyond’s set featured a scene that has become very familiar to the trio – thousands of fans signing along to “Sun and Moon” in unison as confetti rained down on more than a few smiling faces. Taking the stage next was Pierce Fulton, who was more than up to the task of following Above & Beyond and preceding BT. Fulton was gracious enough to come hang at the EDM.com booth directly after his set to meet and take pictures with the groups of fans awaiting his arrival.
Concurrently, an entirely different vibe was being crafted over at the Illumination Arena by 12th Planet and then Datsik. The euphoric trance synths of the Global Dance Arena gave way to grinding bass and hip hop vocal samples, and Datsik’s set quickly became the talk of the festival. As fantastic as the previous producers and live acts had been, the entire convention center was abuzz as the time grew closer for Pretty Lights to take the stage for a three-hour set, spanning from 2013 into the new year.
It was immediately clear that the visual production level was going to be stepped up significantly for the Colorado native’s mammoth set. Lasers of every color shot forth without warning time and time again, oftentimes filling the entire space above the crowd, creating an awe-inspiring ceiling of light that would disappear and reappear in split seconds, flawlessly synchronized to Pretty Lights’ productions. The songs themselves were a journey through Pretty Lights’ discography, sometimes including official remixes or extensions, such as inserting a diced up version of Common’s verse from Kanye West’s “Get ‘Em High” into “Gold Coast Hustle.” The New Years’ countdown itself was a sight to behold, with the crowd of thousands booming out the numbers until finally erupting in exhilaration when Mountain Standard Time crossed into 2014. It was a fitting end to a decadent celebration of music and life, witnessing Pretty Lights at the height of his fame playing right where he started, for his hometown crowd. Decadence was a truly magical way to close out 2013, while getting a glimpse of the potential that 2014 holds for electronic music.