How to survive an Electronic Dance Music Concert


This is part of an ongoing series of posts where I will explain what to expect when attending a live concert.  Music is best experienced firsthand, and depending on the genre, what’s expected for the concert-goer can be quite varied. Here are my thoughts on attending an Electronic Dance Music Concert in Vancouver.

Electric Daisy Carnival
  • What is an electronic dance music concert (EDMC)?

Electronic music is created by disc jockeys (DJ’s) for dance environments, such as clubs or arenas. The composers themselves become the performer.  These concerts celebrating dance music evolved from “raves” (as they were known in the 90’s) to “festivals” or “Dance Music Concerts” in 2000’s.  The atmosphere, music, and environment is like  a rave; the only difference is that the venue is public, regulated, and legal. Attendees are generally on their feet for most of the concert, and spend their time dancing for hours. There are typically no singers or performers – all the music is mixed or created by the DJ, who are adored as rock stars (although they themselves do not sing or perform on an instrument).

EDMCs are relatively new in mainstream North America. However, it is quickly growing and amassing many young followers. For example, last year in Las Vegas, their annual Electric Daisy Carnival drew 320,000 spectators over 3 days.

  • What is the venue?

Indoor venues are dance clubs, which have capacity ranging from a few hundred to 5000

In Vancouver, the largest nightclub is Gossip Nightclub for 1000+, while one of the smaller ones includes the Cellar, with a capacity of 234.

Outdoor venues are generally held in open-air coliseums or arenas. Vancouver does not hold an EDMCs outside.

  • What does electronic dance music sound like?

Since the advancement of synthesizers and mixers in the 1980’s, there has been an explosion of new sounds and possibilities that were not possible with traditional instruments. Synthesizers can also imitate the sounds of voices or instruments (with pre-recorded sounds), thus eliminating the need for the real thing. Electronic music is interested in exploring new sounds or non-musical sounds and incorporating these into songs. This allows the composers and audience to examine and experiment with what is traditionally considered as “music”.

There are no gaps between songs; instead, song are segued by synchronized mixing.  There are different types of electronic music, such as house, trance, techno, disco.

The thumping beats are sometimes mixed with vocal music, usually singing that is slow, soaring, simple to follow, and repetitive. This makes sense since the dancing audience want something easy to sing along with and easily audible above the beat. Here are some examples : here, here and here.

Here is the full set from the popular DJ, Deadmau5 (pronounced, “Dead mouse”).

  • Where can I see an EDMC?

Depending on the schedule, artists may perform at night clubs across Vancouver, or in larger theatres/arenas.

Check http://www.ticketmaster.ca/ for the latest concerts.

  • What is the average age of a concert-goer?

People in their 20’s-30’s

  • What is the average cost of going on an EDMC?

$30.00 plus for one concert, $125 plus for multi-day concerts, such as the Electric Daisy Circus.

  • What to wear to an EDMC?

Attendees are most likely moving and dancing to the music, and because so many people are packed together and constantly moving, you will become quite hot and sweaty!  Therefore, it is advisable to wear clothing that is breathable and light.

Men usually keep it simple with a t-shirt, tank or eventually going shirtless.

You may be shocked to see the women wearing outfits in flashy colors, embellished bras, and short skirts.  Tutus are common, as well as bathing suit bottoms or spandex shorts. 

Accessories such as large plastic sunglasses (the crazier the better) as well as homemade bracelets called Kandi are everywhere.

Trading Kandi
  • Any more tips?

Today’s top DJ’s around the world include Tiesto, Avicci, Paul Van Dyk, Calvin Harris, Steve Aoki, Armin Van Buuren, Daft Punk, Pete Tong, David Guetta, Deadmau5, Paul Oakenford, and the Chemical Brothers.

Some attendees prefer to enjoy the electronic music under the influence of drugs.  This can be extremely dangerous as the distribution of drugs is common and unregulated, not to mention illegal in these concerts, and can result in serious health repercussions.  However, drug users claim the drugs heighten their senses, which allows them to experience the concert (and “light shows”) in a deeper way.

Regardless of whether you take drugs or not, light shows can be quite an experience for the senses.  A light show is performed by a concert attendee during the concert, and involves moving their body (attached to lights) in a way that is stimulating and fantastic.  Here’s an example. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdhhUAZHNi8

And here’s a tutorial on how to give a light show.

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