8. Infected Mushroom, The Pods
While the Infected Mushroom duo occasionally play DJ sets, their live shows have become syonymous with their otherworldy touring rig. Referred to as the Pods by fans, this rig accentuates the psy-trance and dubby music the two have produced throughout their careers. Developed by V Squared Labs (the same production company responsible for the Gary and ISAM), the Pods contain two pods in front of a giant screen. 3D mapping is implemented to make the pods and screen fuse together, creating surreal images that transport the audience to the fungus-themed world of Infected Mushroom. Emulating everything from fungi forests to a bloom of jellyfish, the Pods rig is a truly remarkable production spectacle.
9. Eric Prydz, EPIC
Eric Prydz's Epic show lives up to its names at the very least. The Swedish producer/DJ has gone great lengths to cement the branding behind EPIC, with the third iteration of the series occuring at Madison Square Garden on September 27. Past EPIC series, referred to as EPIC and EPIC 2.0, have evolved clubs around the world into Prydz's own personal playgrounds. EPIC situates Prydz in front of a massive LED wall and LED panels that stretch along the sides of the venue housing the rig. The result is marvelous, with Prydz's sweeping visual display setting the tone for his devilish techno and uplifting progressive house. If those features weren't enough, a hologram emerges from the center panel during the show. EPIC 3.0 will be the only one of its kind and we remain curious as to how Prydz will continue to raise the bar.
10. Datsik, the Vortex Lumen
Taking a note from fellow dubstepper Excision, Datsik revealed his own unique production rig in 2012. From V Squared Labs, the Vortex Lumen uses the always-jaw dropping 3D mapping technology in entirely new ways. Images display on a circular rig that creates a vortex effect when lit up. Accompanied by 150,000 watts of bass, the Vortex also delivers in resonating the bone-tingling bass that's become a hallmark of Datsik's music. The design itself came from from a drawing Datsik sketched, and that sketch eventually evolved into the production rig we know and love today.
11. Avicii, the Head
The ambitious production rig seen a few years ago during Avicii's tour certainly raised the bar for many setups to follow. A towering head equipped with lasers, an endless supply of lights, and an LED backdrop, Avicii's production spared no expense. The Head, outfitted with 3D visual mapping, rose over the crowd and eventually pulled off a trick not often seen in most production rigs. The tip of the head split off, sending the Swedish DJ hovering over the crowd as lasers flew in all directions. While the Head has since been retired, we can't help but wonder if the innovative rig will ever make a glorious return.
12. Feed Me, Teeth
Much like other entries on our list, Feed Me's live shows have become a crucial part of the producer's identity. The Teeth rig evokes the spirit and theme of Feed Me's character, a green monster with an evil grin lining his face. The Teeth include multiple LED panels that all form to make the shape of the character's iconic smile. A series of small LED panels sit atop the DJ booth and give the visuals some extra flavor. The panels themselves go to great lengths to showcase the wonderful art of the Feed Me character, and furthur solidifies the monster we have grown to associate with Feed Me.
13. Pretty Lights, The Towers
Sample maestro and beatmaker Pretty Lights has evolved from DJ to full-blown live performer over his career. The prolific artist has gone through many production rigs but his Towers setup may just be his greatest to date. Lined with blocks adorned with LED panels, the Towers get their name from the way the images would fuse and depict a series of towers surrounding the Colorado-based producer as he performed. Also equipped with lasers, the Towers helped grow Pretty Lights' live career and paved the way for future rigs. While the Towers may not be conducive to his current live show (which includes a variety of performers), we can't help but clamor for the return of the Towers if he decides to tour as a DJ again.
14. Plastikman Setup
We finish off the list with a legendary production rig that set benchmarks for many live setups. Plastikman, the introverted alter ego of renown DJ Richie Hawtin, toured the world with a production rig complete with a circular design and holographic features that set Hawtin between the audience and the brilliant visuals surrounding him. A staple among festivals in 2010, the rig took the focus off Hawtin the DJ and emphasized his Plastikman productions. In 2014, Plastikman returned for one show at Sonar, but this time with control over a large monolith centered in the crowd. It still remains to be seen if Plastikman and his rig will return, but his Sonar appearance undoubtedly bodes well for future performances.
It's no secret that EDM artists thrive the most during their live shows. With rapid innovations in lighting and sound being developed each year, artist production teams seek new ways to elevate their live shows. It seems as though now every other artist tours with a massive production setup, a prerequisite that contributes to the price of rising ticket prices. However, the production rigs EDM performers use dwarf the rigs showcased in other genres, often outfitted with the latest set of lasers or embellished with pyrotechnics. Over the years many rigs have come and gone, but below we've recounted the 14 best stage productions used in the genre.
1. Daft Punk, The Pyramid
Perhaps the rig that started it all, Daft Punk's Pyramid set the benchmark for many production set pieces to follow. Used during their Alive 2006-2007 world tour, the Pyramid became an icon among music fans. Outfitted with LED panels and impressive lighting, the Pyramid perfectly fit the French duo's aesthetic and inspired thousands of production technicians to follow suit, paving the way for some of the most beloved rigs to this day. One impressive facet of the Pyramid can be seen in the way the panels and pyramid-shaped lighting mold to the songs the two played, especially during its finale mashup of "Human After All" / "Together" / "One More Time" / "Music Sounds Better With You." With the robots and Pyramid outlined with a dark red finish, the entire production rig contrasts red and black for a fantastic encore.
2. Deadmau5, The Cube
Deadmau5's cube rig continues to dazzle his dedicated fans and curious passer-by's alike. It's undergone several changes in the past few years but the basic features remain consistent: a cut-out cube decked with LED panels, extensive lighting, and Zimmerman's iconic mau5head. Sometimes the cube will come with smaller cube pieces on the side, and recently the Canadian dance star toyed with mau5head robotics. Deadmau5 attempted to retire the cube several instances in the past but it continues to remain a key component of his live performances. The LED panels display a myriad of psychedelic and hilarious images, most notably a deadmau5-themed Super Mario playthrough.
3. Skrillex, The Mothership
Skrillex's manic live performances come to life with his characteristic Mothership rig. Debuted a few years ago, the Mothership title accurately describes the rig, a monstrous spaceship equipped with lasers, lights, pyrotechnics, and more. The ship has evolved over the years, with the latest edition comprised of Recess-themed artwork and graffiti. One aspect of the Mothership that other production rigs have yet to match is its ability to ascend great heights. Using state-of-the-art technology, the rig "blasts off" and appears to hover in front of the crowd. Skrillex's extraterrestial set up rivals many festival productions, only reinforcing the EDM icon's appreciation for technological mastery.
4. Amon Tobin, ISAM
While not a recognizable name among recent EDM fans, Amon Tobin is known for his legendary music and spectacular production rig. Named after his album ISAM, the rig encapsulates dozens of abstract-shaped cubes. The odd shaping of the rig allows the images on cubes to grab the audience and send them into a psychedelic flurry of artistry and heavy bass music, with Tobin orchestrating the madness squarely in the center. Unlike most production rigs, ISAM works entirely as a multisensory experience. Tobin's music plays only one role in ISAM, with the lighting and visual mapping elevating Tobin's music to new heights.
5. Excision, The Executioner
Dubstep icon Excision amassed his legion of fans due largely in part to his massive production rig. Fittingly dubbed the Executioner, the rig incorporates visionary visual mapping and thousands of watts of bass. The rig continues to add more watts to its set up, with the most recent iteration including a record breaking 200,000 watts. While the rig's sound stands out as a focal point, the attention to visual mapping cannot be ignored. The rig, standing 28 feet tall, uses PVC plastic board to efficiently display images onto the face of the rig while masking the dubstep maestro inside. A series of lights line the rig, making for an all-encompassing production tableau.
6. Flying Lotus, Layer 3
Groundbreaking producer Flying Lotus continues to innovate not only through his music but also through his live performances. In 2013 the LA-based beatmaker unveiled the game-changing production rig Layer 3, a multilayered set of screens that creates a 3D effect. Comprised of two screens that are independently controlled by two members of his production team, Lotus rests in the middle and appears sandwiched between all types of mind-melting imagery. Layer 3's subtle balance captures the style and tone of Lotus' music, spiraling the audience down a rabbit hole of hallucination-inducing visuals. The updated version of Layer 3 will accompany Fly Lo on his upcoming fall tour.
7. Dillon Francis, The Gary
Dillon Francis' infectious music and gut-busting humor come together for his unique production rig, aptly-titled the Gary. Inspired by the art of Frank Gehry, the rig assorts fragmented LED panels that allow the hilarity of Francis' visuals to follow along to his moombah and trap tracks. The Pizza Slime Crew contributed many of their oddly humorous art pieces to the set design, seen with the inclusion of a multitude of cat faces. The constant barrage of trippy images may appear as an attempt to brainwash the audience, but Dillon Francis fans will know the insanity of the Gary's design meshes perfectly with the producer's personality.