USC Events brought the incredibly anticipated FreakNight 2013 to WaMu Theater in Seattle on October 25 and 26. Due to weekend plans, I was only able to attend the first night of the festival. It was mind-shattering in all the best ways; USC Events put together not only a stacked lineup that blew away any other Seattle shows (with the possible exception of Paradiso) but also a varied one that gave electronic fans both established artists and rising stars.
I arrived at 7:30PM as doors opened, learning from last year's fiasco, and I was in the venue within ten minutes. USC Events is to be commended for hiring extra security; the crowd was much more controlled and friendly than last year, and most of the security team members were pleasant and helpful. The new spacious layout was fantastic, specifically the winding entrance through CenturyLink Field to the Midway of Mayhem stage (a stage that I felt featured the best sound mix of the night).
Without further ado, here are a few highlights from the sets that I attended: Deorro: A Los Angeles-based producer who has recently released material on Hardwell's Revealed Recordings label, Deorro fused progressive, tech, and electro Dutch-infused house into his set. His track "Yee" has ascended the Beatport Top 100 Chart since its release. Deorro's energy was fantastic, and he dropped both originals and tracks from Hardwell's label. Hopefully he plays at Foundation Nightclub in Seattle soon, as he's a must-see in a more intimate setting before he eventually plays bigger stages. Dillon Francis: This was my second DF set in a few months (he headlined the Capitol Hill Block Party in my Seattle neighborhood over the summer) and he never disappoints. I personally would have liked to hear more of his original moombahton productions, but that's a small aside. He played to the crowd, spinning a few unreleased bootlegs while wowing with feline-inspired visuals that were the wildest of the evening.
W&W: The Dutch duo has rapidly ascended the charts with simply epic remixes of Krewella and Dash Berlin over the past 12 months. They played an upbeat set that had the main stage bouncing to their anthems. Highlights included their Hardwell collaboration "Jumper" within the first 15 minutes of the set, as well as their original track "Thunder" and a number of remixes. With huge grins on their faces, van Hanegem and van der Harst coaxed the crowd to sing along to their remix of Armin van Buuren's "This Is What It Feels Like". From start to finish, their energy was infectious. Only negative? "Animals" was heard ...
Benny Benassi: Hands down, my favorite set of the night. I last saw Benassi at Dayglow 2012 in Seattle, where he played a much more electro-tinged set that definitely spoke to the younger crowd present. Tonight, he was beautifully varied. From his Ultra 2013 collaboration with Davide Rivaz "Tell Me Twice" to tracks from 2008's "Rock 'n' Rave" album, Benassi spun a set infused with tech house and futuristic, almost Tron-like visuals. The crowd obviously went wild when he dropped Skrillex's "Cinema" remix halfway throughout, but he captivated the audience with limited mainstream tracks and much longer, melodious buildups to drops. He stole the show for me, no small feat for someone playing right before Calvin Harris.
Calvin Harris: The biggest name of the Phase III lineup announcement, Calvin Harris returned to a USC Events massive for the first time since Lucky 2012. Of course, since then, he's had approximately 253 Billboard #1s, making his set completely different from 19 months ago. He alternated nicely between his personal hits and electro house tracks, opening with "Sweet Nothing" and transitioning immediately into the wicked drop of Showtek's "Slow Down". While 80% of the set was directly from his latest album "18 Months" (this is by no means criticism, as Harris' output is so prolific that this is a problem that most artists would kill for), he dropped a stunning, sweeping remix of The Killers' "When You Were Young" that he debuted a month ago at TomorrowWorld. He closed with his Alesso collaboration "Under Control", leaving the crowd wildly applauding as he bowed and exited the stage.
I didn't see enough of Hardwell's set to write adequately, as I rotated stages throughout the rest of the night. ATB's set was a joy to witness, and New World Punx added a more mature, hard-edged trance set to the main stage. Freaknight 2013 was an incredibly well-run event that infinitely improved on last year's chaotic affair. My only regret was that I couldn't attend the second night. I'm already looking forward to November's Seattle concert slate, including Alesso, Steve Aoki, Quintino, Dyro and more!