In a little over a week, Sunset Music Festival will once again return to Tampa, Florida at the North Lot of the Raymond James Stadium. Scheduled to take place May 23-24, SMF 2015 marks growing festival's largest year yet. With previous years attracting the likes of Pretty Lights, Zedd, Paul van Dyk, DJ Snake, and more, many fans wondered how 2015's lineup could possibily raise the scale. Turns out the 2015 iteration brings Sunset's most balanced lineup yet, slotting a little something for all types of EDM fans.
To help you pick out some of the best acts to see at SMF 2015, EDM.com created a list of 10 must-see artists to catch during the weekend. We tried to include artists from all genres, and selected everyone from a top-billed headliner to the bubbling talent who could very well become headliners in the next few years.
Without further ado, read our list of the top 10 must-see acts of SMF 2015 below:
1. Armin van Buuren
Kicking off our list is SMF 2015 headliner Armin van Buuren. Since releasing his 2013 album Intense, Armin kept things as quiet as a top-tier producer and DJ could. He continued to tour and expanded his yearly A State of Trance celebration into a worldwide festival, but new music from Armin comes at a slow trickle. This set marks Armin's first appearance in central FL since his intimate club gig at The Amphitheatre in 2013, and his appearance on Sunday guarantees a sweeping closing set. Catching Armin at a festival like SMF is a rare treat, so be sure to check out his headlining set.
Next up on our list is another trance act, perhaps the most exciting trance act of the entire lineup. In an age where the trance genre experiences an identity crisis, Astrix champions the subgenre psy-trance to keep the fundamentals of the trance genre alive and well. Astrix's tracks include trippy vocals, high-BPM beats, and uplifting breakdowns. Astrix receives worldwide attention for his music, and catching him in the United States poses a challenge for many trance fans. Astrix's set on Saturday marks a very rare opportunity to watch the psy-trance master at work, and attendees should definitely fit Astrix into their schedules as a priority.
3. Cashmere Cat
Once an "unknown" struggling to find an audience, Cashmere Cat hit the mainstream hard in 2014. He's collaborated with Ariana Grande, Kanye West, Sia, and more, but the Norwegian producer continues to create tracks that fit his sublime aesthetic. Known for his adept DJ skills in addition to his numerous productions, Cashmere Cat rarely plays shows in Florida outside of Miami. His inclusion signals Sunset's notice of the growing movement behind alternative EDM genres, and having one of the principal figures behind that movement speaks volumes about the festival's growth.
Masked producers run a dime a dozen these days, but one particular house producer takes his anonymity to the next level. Claptone wears a a bird-like mask and hat commonly worn by plague doctors during the 17th and 18th centuries. This dark appearance juxtaposes with his melodic house productions, many of which have dominated the Beatport chart against more mainstream fare. Claptone's mystery also makes him a difficult act to see, and arguably represents Sunset's most impressive booking out of the bunch. As Claptone so eloquently says in his recent Essential Mix, "inhale (his) sonic summer breeze."
Who knew such a crafty businessman could also moonlight as a respected producer and DJ? Such is the case with Gary Richards, who organizes events under his HARD brand by day and plays under the Destructo name by night. Destructo takes tech and deep elements to make dirty bass and g-house tunes, collaborating with rappers such as YG and Too $hort. Despite Destructo's frequent appearances at HARD events, he rarely plays sets outside of South Florida. Catching a hard-to-see act is tempting enough, but catching such an integral figure in dance music under his production moniker makes the prospect even sweeter.
6. Duke Dumont
With Duke Dumont's recent success, we're surprised Sunset didn't bill him as a subheadliner. With tracks like "I Got U" topping the UK Singles chart and amassing over 110 million views on Youtube, it's hard to deny the British producer's popularity. Dumont's recent live set at Coachella cemented the producer as a force to be reckoned with, with a packed out Sahara Tent cheering for his many unreleased tracks. His debut album releases this September, which is very likely to bring deep and classic house sounds back to the American mainstream. Similar to others in this list, Dumont rarely plays shows outside of South Florida, so catching his set should be essential.
7. Keys N Krates
Live electronic music continues to make a comeback in response to the proliferation of DJ sets, and trap trio Keys N Krates marks one of Sunset's few live artists. Even though they recently toured Florida, Keys N Krates deserves to be seen again due to their sheer ingenuity and originality. Equipped with live drums and keys, Keys N Krates performs everything from their original tracks to live reinterpretations of famous trap anthems. Nothing beats the warm feedback of live drums playing on loud speakers, and Keys N Krates will give you your fill of bone-tingling beats.
Mija's rise to fame represents one of dance music's greatest feel-good stories. She toured as a fairly small DJ for years, and was scheduled to play a solo set at the Kalliope Stage at Bonnaroo in 2014. Early into Mija's 6 a.m. set, Skrillex made his way to the stage after finishing his Superjam and asked her if he could go B2B with her. The result marked one of Bonnaroo's 2014 greatest moments, and a huge step in Mija's career. She has since signed to OWSLA, collaborated with the likes of Ghastly and Lil Jon, and played numerous festivals and shows. This show marks Mija's Tampa debut, and attendees can feel proud catching her set as her career evolves.
9. Porter Robinson
Months after releasing his seminal album Worlds, Porter Robinson continues to bring his new live set-up to festivals across the world. Robinson played Tampa this past October, but his new live show demands repeat viewings. Robinson's set marks one of Sunset's additional live sets, and the show comes to life in part due to the gripping visual element of his Worlds Tour. Dance music rarely sees live shows as entrancing as Robinson's, and his appearance at Sunset will surely mark a high point of the weekend.
10. Trippy Turtle
One of dance music's recent growing genres is jersey club, and one of jersey club's central players will make his Tampa debut at Sunset. Trippy Turtle confused many people with his anonymity early in his career, but attentive fana quickly noticed he and producer Lido were one in the same. Both of his aliases innovate in their respective genres, but this particular set should be heavy on the jersey club and future bass tracks. Be sure to catch Trippy Turtle wearing his very green garb, outfitted to resemble both sides of his production name.
Bonus: Christian Alexandar
We can't have this list without at least mentioning one of the local Tampa DJs slotted to play during the weekend. The 21-year-old Christian Alexandar stands out among the opening acts due to his weekly residency on Fridays at The Amphitheatre, where he's opened for the likes of Bingo Players, Wildstylez, Caked Up, and more. He attends the University of South Florida and studies biomedical sciences, an impressive fact given his DJing career thus far. Alexandar plays an early set on both Saturday, and should attract some new fans along the way.
For a chance to win free tickets to SMF 2015, enter our giveaway before it ends next Wednesday.
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