I had family in town for the holidays and couldn't get away for the first Audible festival, featuring deadmau5, on Dec. 29 at the convention center. Fortunately, contributor Crysti Couture could. Here's her review.
By Crysti Couture
Downtown El Paso was the hub of electronic excitement as the Audible music festival made its explosive premiere Saturday night at the El Paso convention center with a sold-out show featuring nationally touring DJs Audrey Napoleon, Chris Lake and headliner, deadmau5, along with local support from DJ Sebern.
The line to get in stretched from the convention center entrance well around the block and half way down San Antonio Avenue. At first, it seemed like the amount of people that had shown up for the festival was a bit more than the security detail was ready for. There was no discernible method to the madness, no signs that pointed out differences between will call, VIP or general admission lines. But the hordes slowly thinned out, with discernible lines separating the males from the females.
Despite the long lines, the largely 18- to 24-year-old crowd, more than 8,000 strong, buzzed loudly with laughter and excitement. Audible drew people from all walks of life — long-haired rockers sporting Van Halen jackets; middle-aged folks in sport coats and evening dresses; and, of course, the scantily dressed raver girls and guys, wearing nothing but shorts or tutus, braving 28-degree weather and eager to get their dance on.
"The venue is perfect," said Adam Rosales, 18, a senior at Americas High School. He began showing me some of his brightly colored kandi bracelets. "Someone gave me this one at Kaskade earlier this yea," he told me as he pointed to a large green bracelet on his left wrist. "I've been to every show this year — Kaskade; Le Castlevania; Benny Bennassi. You name it, I was there. This is my first time seeing deadmau5, though."
Sebern warmed up set from 8-9 p.m., but by the time I made it onto the main floor — after the standard frisking and ID check — Napoleon was already on stage, behind pulsating LED visuals, in little more than a bra and headphones, her wild black hair whipping around her head while she played pop-infused tracks off of her EP "Ornamental Egos." Napoleon has been steadily building an army of new fans since debuted in El Paso for last summer's Sun City Music Festival and her sound has developed as well.
Chris Lake took over at around 10:15 pm, although Audrey stayed on stage for a little while longer, dancing along to his beats on the side of the booth. Lake seems to favor a deeper bass sound and played fan favorites like his own "Sundown," Tommy Trash's "Reload," Nari & Milani's "Atom," TJR's '"Ode to Oi" and more.
Napoleon's set was loud. Lake's was a whole lot louder, though it's unclear if that was by design or something the sound techs ironed out by the time Lake hit the stage. Stage lights and the booth LEDs were the main visual points of interest during his performance, despite a whole barrage of large unlit panels that hung across the stage.
Once the midnight hour rang, Joel Zimmerman coolly made his way on stage, sans the mau5head and those massive LED panels that had been dormant before. The convention center floor was a sea of dancing fans, punctuated with the occasional homemade mau5head. He began his two-hour set with mellow single "'Where (are) My Keys," but after a few songs, Zimmerman put on his iconic headgear and was immediately greeted with uproarious clapping and cheering. It was clear that the crowd was ready for its favorite rodent.
The Canadian EDM superstar's set was steeped deeply with the beats of his own making, like "Professional Griefers" followed by "Moar Ghosts N' Stuff," and a few surprises, like a fresh mix of Rage Against the Machine's "Killing In The Name" and Daft Punk's "Around the World," of which he later said, "I don't know how that got in there, it was just in my Ableton sh**."
He paused from time to time to dance when it seemed like the beat overtook him. His colorful dialogue and spontaneous dancing was a refreshing departure from DJs who stand in frozen poses behind the booth. At one point, Zimmerman paused to exclaim, "I cut my f****ing finger!" In another moment, he introduced fiancée, tattoo artist Kat Von D, before lighting into "Strobe,"and other tracks like "'Closer" and "The Veldt"' from his most recent release, "album title goes here." He finished the night by taking off the mau5head and shouting, "I haven't had this much fun since I last had fun!'"
Once the pulsating lights and booming bass came to a halt at 2 a.m., the convention center staff did a fantastically fast job of ushering the revelers out. "It's everything that we expected," Alex Navarro, 31, said after the show. "The lighting and music was great, and the $70 we each paid was worth it."
The first Audible was a great testament to the versatility that electronic music is known for. Each performer had their own style, from underground pop to heavy drum-and-bass to dubstep totechno. The genre always has an uncanny knack for bringing people from all walks of life together, which was good for the venue, good for fans and great for ticket sales.
Can't wait to see what fresh, new acts promotes SMG Events and Donnie Disco Presents bring for the third Sun City Music Festival on Labor Day Weekend.