Dance music festivals have changed to become one of the most attended events around the planet. With the major move into the mainstream, the lineups and artists playing in those festivals have also changed a lot.
Some even believe the artists themselves decided to venture into producing new sounds in order to better fit within the lineups of up and coming festivals as this guarantees exposure and more money.
It is surprising to see how much dance music has changed over the past ten years. Today, we know Zedd for his huge dance pop hits with releases from “Stay,” “Get Low,” and of course “Clarity”. Trance fans used to know Tiesto for his legendary tracks like “Adagio For Strings”, “ In The Dark” and “Suburban Train”. These were cemented in dance music history and were constantly getting spins at major festivals around the globe.
The trend and therefore EDM festival lineups have changed from House music to Trap and more Bass music. The harder styles have been going up in popularity and their time to shine has already come.
Let’s have a better look at how the major festivals have changed, from the way they are produced and run to the artists being featured:
Electric Daisy Carnival
The world-famous festival started back in 2007. A major thing to note is that it was located and held in Los Angeles and not Las Vegas. Both in terms of the show, attendance and stage size, and in terms of the number of headlining acts which played in the festival, it looks like they were very limited and small compared to the hundreds of acts and thousands of attendees today. Looking at the pictures of the latest EDC festival you can clearly notice the difference.
In terms of lineup, you can see regular well-known names like Paul Oakenfold, Infected Mushroom, Hernan Cattaneo and Above & Beyond. Generally, the lineup is heavy in trance and techno. You can also find a lot of unrecognizable names, since many stopped playing music in recent years so the crowds these days don’t really know them.
A closer look at EDC Las Vegas in 2012 shows very little trap or bass music being played. The main styles of music present prominently were big room, trance, house and electro house. Even Dubstep music had more of the UK style than the current sound it has now.
A look at the lineup shows Hardwell playing at 8:30pm, a very early set time for someone who now closes main stages around the world. The closing acts back then had a more progressive house sound like Alesso or Fedde le Grand. Although big room is back in full force (or has always been present), artists like Bassjackers were also closing sets in festivals five to ten years ago. Another unique thing that happened back in 2012 was Steve Aoki closing Day 2 with The Blue Man Group. It was something unique that was never seen again. It’s interesting to see Steve Aoki doing such a collaboration back in the day. It just goes to show the change he’s had along the years as well. This change came with him having a new appeal and a new time slot at major festivals.
The third day of EDC Las Vegas in 2012 was closed by the biggest act of the time, Funkagenda, who no longer makes music.
Forward to 2014, we can notice a lot changing at EDC. Starting with having eight main stages instead of seven, playing more artists and feeding the bigger interest in EDM. This showed how the styles of music were changing.
In 2014, genres like progressive house and big room house were still really popular but we were also seeing the rise of deep house and trap, especially at the hard stage. At the BassPOD stage, a lot of it a few years back was Drum n Bass. Now these were few and far between instead of the main genre.
One name we see rising back then was Martin Garrix, he had just released “Animals” in 2013 and it makes sense to see him playing twice. He closed the
entire festival on the second day. On day 2, we see Tiesto again, and on day 3 we see Dash Berlin closing the night. That shows how much trance (including vocal and progressive) was still prominent in 2014 in some way. The harder style stages made a great job curating trap and bass music that we’re more used to today. On Day 3, What So Not, who was barely known, had an 8:45 pm time slot. Today, he’s bigger and released an incredible album.
We notice Axwell and Ingrosso playing together (which didn’t happen years before and after the split of Swedish House Mafia).
Ultra Music Festival
A quick look at Ultra Music Festival at the time as well, shows a similar lineup of trance and techno styles. Many of these names play side stages now instead of the main stage (the change of music trends and main styles is to blame). Fedde legrand and Tiesto are two major names present back then as well on the main stage.
A closer look at the Drum & Bass stage shows us a few recognizable names like Andy C and Subfocus, whereas other stages feature a lot of unrecognizable names.
Forward to 2012, at Ultra Music Festival, we can see a lineup of diverse headlining acts like Carl Cox and Skrillex. Again we see Tiesto. But the support acts have a lot of unknown names, some of which don’t tour anymore or don’t play music anymore. For example, when Zedd played Ultra in 2012, he hadn’t released “Clarity” yet. The single would come out later that year, this shows how new Zedd was to the scene, and now he’s one of the biggest DJs in the scene and has crossed over into pop music as well.
Over the years, Ultra Music Festival became more international which shifted things even more and brought worldwide stages to the game. They featured for example an “Ultra Korea” stage featuring Korean artists like Justin Oh and DJ Koo who probably wouldn’t have had the chance to play at such a well-known international stage. For 2014, Ultra brought a lot of progressive, electro house and bigroom house artists. But on the worldwide stages, they brought more trap and bass music artists which were never previously seen at festivals.
A look at the lineup for Day 1 shows the rise to fame of Martin Garrix, Tiesto still in the headlining lineup, Avicci and W&W. Note that Martin Garrix was playing the middle of the main stage, a very coveted time frame within the mainstage lineup which goes to show the artist was pretty much going up within the ranks of global names in the scene. On another hand, on Day 3 you notice Jack U which was incredible at the time. Skrillex and Diplo were amazing together. It’s sad that we might never be able to see them as Jack U together again, even though the music and the show at the time was absolutely mad.
Coachella in 2007 had very few electronic acts. An interesting look at Day 2’s lineup, you can see artists at the bottom like Justice and Andrew Bird. Justice grew to become one of the pioneers of electronic dance music and are headlining. Few are the artists who have had long career to span all throughout those years and still be relevant and major acts in festivals nowadays. This goes to show that the lifespan of an electronic artist in this industry is quite short.
Taking a quick look at Coachella in 2010, they had only about 10 electronic dance music acts out of the 50 acts per day. Most of them played progressive house and were the main acts which were playing every other festival. There weren’t much experimental artists who were fresh into the scene. Day 1 had people like Swedish House Mafia, M83, Madeon and “a smaller” R3hab compared to now, where he is a main headlining act. Another funny thing to note is the name of Kendrik Lamar is featured in small at the very bottom which five years later, in Coachella 2017, put his name as a featured headlining main artist, a huge achievement for him within five years.
On another hand, Porter Robinson and Madeon both played in 2012 at different times and days, but then in 2017 they played their famous back-to-back set.
Coachella in 2014 brings something interesting, an increase to about 15 out of the 50 artists playing the festival are electronic music artists. A slight increase from previous lineups showing the increase in popularity of EDM music. The festival also started exploring lesser-known experimental artists as well. A look at the lineup on day 1 shows Martin Garrix, in a high position on the lineup in addition to Zedd as well. We also notice a diverse selection of other EDM acts like Dillon Francis, Headhunterz, Elephant, and Nicole Moudaber. Coachella tried, around this time, to expand the types of music they were playing in the electronic areas.
In its early years the festival’s humble beginnings saw stages that were not half as luxurious as we enjoy today. However, the sights and sounds of the world’s most talented artists delighted local audiences and every year growth was seen.
The first edition of the festival took place in 2005, Performers included Erwin Tang Yew Hon, Armin Van Buuren, Technoboy and Coone. A few years later, in 2008, the number of attendees grew to 50,000 for the first time. It was in 2009, that the production included several stages and the use of a theme for the first time. The stages included an “I Love the 90’s” stage, where musicians such as M.I.K.E. Push, Natural Born Deejays and SASH from the dance scene were present. The main stage featured a special act which was Moby. It was in 2012, that things picked up even more, and featured a line-up consisting of 400 DJs. From Armin Van Buuren, Ferry Corsten, Carl Cox, Hardwell and Swedish House Mafia.
In 2018, the festival ran across two weekends and saw an attendance of 400,000 people. Mainstage performers included Armin van Buuren, David Guetta, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Hardwell and Martin Garrix. Digital Spy described the event as “the most elaborate festival on earth” with the only downside being the price. The festival hosted a number of stages all with their unique lineup. A noticeable thing is the presence of Psy trance stages, bass stages, and the harder styles of electronic music (Psygathering, Rampage, Age of Love to name a few examples).
Festivals in 2018
In 2018, electronic music has apparently changed. You can see that clearly in the lineups. EDC has much more future bass and trap, dubstep and bass music in general which wasn’t really prevalent three to five years ago. There’s still a lot of house music, but a lot of it is bass house and G house, there’s not much progressive house and bigroom house as before although artists like Tiesto still played EDC 2018. It is important to note the increase of Back-to-backs going on as well. There’s more B2B than anywhere, especially at the bassPOD stage. It’s a really interesting trend to have more artists play at the same time and it can get really fun for the fans of the genres and brings a little spontaneity to the event and the set. One of the recent big B2B sets was the one at A State Of Trance 650 in Argentina, which had 7 DJs B2B!
A look back at 2012, Chris Lake had a set at 7pm but now he plays at every day of the festival and in 2018, he closed the Kinetic Field stage back-to-back with Fisher. Tiesto plays twice as well, he also plays on day 2. A big change in 2018 is the Porter Robinson is not seen playing any lineup but his alias Virtual Self is on a lot of stages and festivals around the globe.
Similarly to EDC, Ultra 2018 had a lot of house, with very little bigroom and progressive house. The festival focused more on trap and bass artists. We can notice a definite change of attitude towards trance and techno, people are less interested in listening to it on the main stage. On day 1 we see Virtual Self, Tiesto’s back again on day 2. Swedish House Mafia surprised the whole EDM community with a big return and closed the festival down in 2018.
Coachella 2018 featured a more diverse range of electronic dance music than ever before. The festival featured the main big headliners but also a lot of music genres: from house and techno to future bass and trap music. On day 1 we saw artists like Kygo and experimental stars like Rezz. On day 3, Odeza is one of the headliners as well as Illenium and San Holo.
Over the years we noticed a few artists being staples at every major festival, but many will play at some festival for a year and disappear (getting lost in the genres, in the music maybe?) or they’ll stop making music altogether or even stop touring and end up away from the spotlights and the dance floors. In addition to that, the change from house music to more bass and trap music today is a trend that will as it seems continue forward. Which will also bring us more new names to discover and unique musical experiences. Who knows, maybe a few years from now we’ll be seeing more Rap or RnB artists fusing into electronic music festivals, we’ll just have to wait and see.