Last Thursday, Identity Festival kicked off their 2012 tour at Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. Production and music expectations were high for me, and crowd expectations were low, as Cincinnati is far from a hot bed of dance music. Fortunately and unfortunately, all of my expectations were met. With top quality musical talent with the likes of Nero, Arty, Bingo Players, and a personal favorite of mine; Eric Prydz to name a few, the music more than lived up to my lofty expectations. The night before the event, Audrey Napoleon tweeted a video of the Identity Festival stage, which set my expectations high for the production, and it was as great as I expected. The whole Riverbend stage was covered with multiple massive LED walls that had synced light shows, which by now is the norm for an event of this size.
This leads me to the crowd. Unfortunately for this event, Riverbend Music Center is the largest music venue in southwest Ohio. To put it in perspective, Jimmy Buffett, Dave Matthews Band, and Wiz Khalifa are the caliber of artists that play there. Given a few different factors; promotion, competing festival (All Good Music Festival), Thursday event, and the low interest of dance music in Cincinnati, the result was very low attendance. On the flip side, everyone was able to get extremely close to the stages, without getting completely smashed up against the railing. Between a huge venue with two stages and a crowd that couldn’t be larger than 4,000 people, it really made for a unique and intimate festival experience.
All negatives aside, I had a fantastic time at Identity festival. One of the largest perks of this festival was that there was free ice water given out, which as a seasoned festival goer, is extremely nice and helps you to stay hydrated. When we first arrived at the festival, we saw bits and pieces of a couple different sets as we walked around. The pieces of sets we saw were from DVBBS (pronounced Dubbs), Le Castle Vania, and Audrey Napoleon. All three of them are extremely talented producers, but of the three, Audrey Napoleon was my favorite. The reason I liked her set the most was that she played a mix of bass heavy techno, and tech house, which wasn’t what I expected to hear from Identity Festival.
The first full set we watched was Arty. This was the second time I had seen Arty this Summer, and after listening to him extensively, I’m convinced he can do no wrong. One of the tracks that got a huge reaction from him was his newest single, Open Space. I’m not sure how familiar with Cincinnati was with Arty before this set, but when I spoke with people after his set they were instantly fans. Another great track that I also heard him drop at Spring Awakening, was Porter Robinson- Language. This is such an emotional tune that everyone loved it as well. The highlight of his set for me was when he played his track Around The World. This is a pulsating, progressive banger that was the first track I had ever heard from Arty and got me into him. Unfortunately if I had to compare Arty’s set from Identity to his set from Spring Awakening, I’d say that Spring Awakening was better.
Madeon was an artist that I was really looking forward to, as I hadn’t seen him yet. This 18 year old French wunderkind has been dropping some seriously amazing tracks over the last 18 months and has made a name for himself as a standout producer. My favorite parts of his set were when he played Pop Culture, which is the 40 song mash up track that really skyrocketed him to fame, and how he switched from melodic house, to dubstep, to electro, and really just jumped around from genre to genre. Given that he uses Abelton and he has some amazing skills with it, I knew that his set was going to be absolutely flawless, and it was.
This brings me to Eric Prydz.
Capping off the night for Identity Festival, fans were given the choice to see Eric Prydz, or Nero. As I am seeing Nero next weekend at Lollapalooza, and Eric Prydz is in the US for the first time since 2010, there was no doubt in my mind that I wasn’t going to miss a single second of Eric’s set in my home town. In typical Eric Prydz fashion, he absolutely blew the place away. Between his own released productions and some unreleased ID’s that he always throws in, Eric threw down the best set I’ve heard all year. I will say that I am biased, seeing that Eric Prydz is my favorite producer of all time, but regardless with every twist and turn of his set I was surprised. As Eric Prydz always does, he took us on a musical journey that was all too short, only 75 minutes. Starting off this musical journey, Eric did a slow build up that resulted in him opening with Eric Prydz- 2night, which is a great progressive house tune, one of his best from 2011. There were two tracks that he played that were really surprising to me, as I haven’t heard them played in his sets recently. The first track was a tune called On/Off, under his Cirez D moniker. This slow building 9 minute techno track is a song that was an absolute killer when it came out in the Summer of 2009. I hadn’t heard this song dropped in atleast a year, and was my biggest surprise and favorite moment of his set.
A little bit later in his set, Eric dropped Empire Of The Sun vs. Pryda- We Are The Mirage, Which is a bootleg consisting of We Are The People by Empire Of The Sun, and Mirage which was produced under his Pryda Moniker. I distinctly remembered this track from the Tomorrowland 2011 after movie, and had never heard it dropped live by anyone which made it a really special moment. Having heard Eric Prydz before I was really into dance music, the first track that really got me hooked on him was Pjanoo. Midway through his set, Eric teased Pjanoo for about two minutes with another track, which made me think I had heard the last of it and boy I was wrong. With 10 minutes left in his set, Eric Prydz played one of my favorite tracks from his live sets, Pjanoo (Eric’s Private Mix). Although the private mix doesn’t have any groundbreaking changes to the original track, it really makes the track something even more special. With closing the night on a high note, I didn’t want it to end, especially not his set.
I didn’t speak to a single person that didn’t have a fantastic time at Identity Festival in Cincinnati, but for me it was extremely unfortunate that the crowd was such a poor showing. This makes me pessimistic that Identity Festival will be returning to Cincinnati next year, but I will be sure to check out the stop nearest to me, as it is a fantastic event. There are plenty of dates that have tickets still available so check them out here.
Be sure to check out all of the photos from Identity Festival Cincinnati on our Facebook Page!