14 Aug 2011: PNC Bank Arts Center Holmdel, NJ
IDentity has been battling inclement weather too often on its inaugural romp. The Miami show has been postponed because Hurricane Irene may make landfall and the Jones Beach (NY) show was deluged with rain enough that DJ Shadow posted “another epic weather fail!!” on his twitter. He may have been referring to the Sunday before, when IDentity Festival’s stop in Holmdel, New Jersey on August 14th initially looked to be a grim washout. With torrential rain forecast for the day and a venue located just out of reach of NJ Transit (thus requiring an automobile), I felt an overwhelming urge to just excuse myself from attending. Yet checking out IDentity’s twitter, the posts notified me that not only was the show still on, but against my doubts, it would be a rager. As it turns out, I’m glad I went (though I found myself without any idea of the schedule of events).
The rain certainly didn’t stop music fans. People may normally dress down for electronic events and the weather was all the more reason to be comfortable. Half the fun is seeing the attire and as I made my way around the venue to glimpse the stages I took note of the exceptional style on the scene. One girl came prepared (for the fog machines?) with a gas mask, two Teletubbies grinned for cameras, I recognized a guy in skin tight camo piece because he wore something similar at another festival while everywhere else was loads and loads of neon.
IDentity scheduled artists across three stages, though only the main stage provided any shelter from the weather. Walking from the entry to the Rockstar x Dim Mak Stage, I found Datsik on stage wrapping up a set, so I stuck around to catch The Crystal Method. Astoundingly, I found myself facing a Pioneer CDJ mixer modified to have double guitar necks and be mobile, something I had seen the day before but could not believe was really an instrument. The duo, Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland, had the fortune to not have to deal with the rain and rocked a crowd, tossing out energy drinks and laying the fog on thick. Their mix included the 2010 ten remixed hit, ” Tu Vuò Fà L’Americano” and closed out with a current hit, Foster the People’s “Helena Beat”.
Inside the amphitheater, Chuckie was on the decks waved his hands to an extremely receptive crowd, at times provoking them, “who is ready to jump?”, and to sing-a-long. The lower area of seats was filled up and the crowd packed in the upper levels. Chuckie’s set included a few classics, like Daft Punk’s “Around the World” followed by Basement Jaxx’s “Where’s Your Head At”, alongside a remix of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” or the White Stripes. It never seemed like he fit a specific style which was great. Ferry Corsten’s “Punk” transformed into more Daft Punk but this time with an added tribal stomp. Chuckie’s excellent set kept the party vibrant and helped the crowd shake off excess water.
Back on the Dim Mak stage, I stuck to the end of Nero just to catch DJ Shadow and his Shadowsphere. Unfortunately by this time the heavy rain was back on, and knowing he wouldn’t appear from inside the sphere for a while, I socked my camera away. Shadow’s set started off with a blistering rework of “Burning Steam…”. He reintroduced a lot of classics reworked, including “Stem”, “Midnight” and “Organ Donor”. Shadow’s set was not just made up of darker tunes though. He included more overt hip-hop and hyphy elements as well like his collaboration with Q-Tip and Lateef “Enuff”. More importantly, Shadow was able to showcase a few songs from his forthcoming album, The Less You Know, The Better. “I Gotta Rokk” was followed by the stirring “Redeemed”.
From my position under the shelter of a merchant tent, I watched people face the elements and continue dancing away. I also saw a more savvy group hoist up a tent and start moving it toward the stage, almost immediately tailed by another tent of lemmings, but security or someone broke that up. Deciding I wanted to dry off, I went back to the main stage to find the catch the end of the Disco Biscuits, perhaps the only proper live band on the IDentity Tour and headliner, Kaskade. A countdown marked the appearance of Kaskade who was positioned atop a massive screen / stage set that dwarfed the others. His set featured a number of his productions, starting off early with “Eyes” and including “Angel on my Shoulder”. His blissful house set was a great way to close out the evening. Anyone who had thought the chill of the rain would diminish the event was now instilled with warmth and set for the ride home.