Erick Morillo at Wavefront Beachside Music Festival, June 30, 2012.
Photo: Max Herman
By the time the clock struck eight bells yesterday, the energy level emanating from Montrose Beach's Wavefront Festival was at its peak. If anyone had been laying low on the fringes of the grounds, they snapped to attention when New York house demi-god Erick Morillo and German techno prankster Boys Noize hit the stage.
Morillo, a veteran DJ who's been igniting crowds in the world's top dance venues well before this EDM craze took over in the U.S., is more than just a record spinner—he's an entertainer. Animated, on the mic and perpetually dancing around the stage, he was easily having as much fun as the crowd—and if not, he did a brilliant job of faking it. Bringing that Vegas vibe to the beach, Morillo dedicated his set to intense build-ups and euphoric break downs, churning out hits that had hands in the air and thousands singing along, like when he dropped Benny Benassi's remix of the Chili Peppers "Otherside" and cut the music to let the crowd do all the work. Any newcomers to the club world found their entry point in Morillo, a perfect figurehead for people who are riding the wave of dance-music popularity on the back of mega acts like Swedish House Mafia and Afrojack. There was a constant pop undertone, high energy and ample reason to throw your hands in the air.
Boys Noize didn't have the sing-along takeways of Morillo, but his electro-techno output was no less captivating. In fact, navigating between the stages, Boys Noize struck me as being the more intense experience. Weaving in and out of blistering techno and crunchy electro, he also spiced things up with acid flourishes and classic Chicago house vibes. With Morillo's set overplaying the dramatic breakdown card, Boys Noize could often be heard cracking the euphoric ambience with his beat-driven onslaught. Speaking with a local DJ, we both marveled at how well he managed to take many of the sounds that are fueling this EDM mania and repackage them in a way that appeals to people who have been in the scene for some time. We shared the sentiment that his set was utter mayhem, but tasteful mayhem—if there can be such a thing. Really though, that's a great way to sum up Wavefront in general. There was still all the unbridled letting loose that comes with raving, but it was being done by people—and DJs—that like to keep it classy—for the most part anyway. It is a festival, after all.