A lot of my friends went to Tomorrowworld and while I’m sure that’s an amazing experience in itself, I needed something that felt a little more low key and underground. Not to say that I won’t attend Tomorrowworld someday, or that Festival Pier in Philadelphia is low key by a long shot. When I heard about Safe and Sound festival, that was more up my alley. Bass music seems like the underdog nowadays when you think of electronic music in general. It’s big room, catchy vocals and merging with pop music more than ever now. In some studio somewhere, artists like Flo-Rida are chomping at the bit to exploit it. We needed something to replace the now defunct Identity Festival. In fact, I like that it’s a little more under the radar these days. With my rekindled love for rock music, it’s the perfect marriage.
Electronic fans, I personally think you guys get a bad wrap. You see tons of news reports echoing the drug overdoses and constantly recycling that notion to where it gets kind of nauseating. From a photographer’s standpoint, the fans were just a part of the show as the acts were. Having fun and Melbourne shuffling their hearts out – literally, it looks tiring especially in an eight hour period. Take any festival like Coachella or Lollapalooza – you are always going to have the bad seeds, but the night was relatively calm. I was happy to see that the majority people were there for the MUSIC.
Onto the acts – which were all diverse in their own ways. The one impressive thing I noticed is that with each set, I didn’t really hear any overlap of songs. If you have ever went to a electronic festival, there is a holy hell of overlap to what’s popular at the time. I started the day with Terravitta who are also the co-founders of the tour. I’m familiar with drum and bass music, so the duo was a nice warm up to the night. Next up was UZ who brought on a trap music flavor early on. Again, these were two djs that I was discovering for the first time, but I was happy with how they kept their sets fresh and matched the tempo of the crowd. That’s a valuable skill especially in a climate where a lot of people just assume it’s “press play”.
The melodic dub-step (chill-step) group, Adventure Club had a lot of female fans sing along to their collaborations with female group Krewella and recent song off their Calling All Heroes EP, “Wonder”. It was a nice change of pace from what was about to come next. I made sure I got the best pair of ear plugs because the bass was about to swallow Festival Pier whole. (perhaps bust a few cochleas in the process)
Flux Pavilion properly introduced us to the capability of the speakers playing crowd favorites “Bass Cannon” and “I Can’t Stop”. I had seen Flux a couple times before at other festivals and just like this one, everybody was trying to push to the front. There were elements of moonbahton and electro house mixed in – the tempo didn’t allow you to catch your breath or guess what was coming next. I had been listening to the Shambhala 2014 mix on a rotation before the show, so Excision was a big act for me to see and take photos for. I was a little disappointed that Destroid did not play on the Philadelphia date of this tour, but Excision’s set made up for it. It was a little variation of the Shambhala mix, but the tracks and cadences were in different places with different mixes of songs like “Funk Hole” and “Bounce”. Excision, who sometimes does his own set and a Destroid set in one night, set the place ablaze. That guy has to run on the best chargeable Duracell battery money can buy.
I was really interested in seeing the last group, Zeds Dead because I needed to get a greater sense about them. Up to this point, I had heard a couple of tracks off of their EPs and remixes, but I never got a chance to see a full set from the duo. Fans made the trademark Z formation with their hands and it was off to the races. Playing tracks of their latest EP, Somewhere Else which is the project that peaked my interest kept me there until the gates closed down. If I’m nodding my head and lose track of time listening to your set – your are doing something right.
There may be other festivals out there – each has their own fan base and quarks to them. For me in particular, Safe and Sound festival embodied everything that is right with electronic music. Fans who were there for the music, production that did not slack due to it being a touring festival, and DJs that upped their game and rose to the occasion.