Arizona’s Decadence: Desert New Year’s Party

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By Jennifer Harmon

Chandler, Ariz. – This past week’s New Year’s festivities rewarded dancing desert dwellers with the 4th annual Decadence Arizona electronic dance music festival, produced by regional heavies, Relentless Beats.

Held Dec. 30-31 at Chandler’s Rawhide Western Town & Event Center, the two-day event raged from 3 pm to 3 am, showcasing a wide variety of acts – from up-and-comers like 17-year-old Petit Biscuits to industry veterans/pioneers like Destructo and Armin van Buuren. Certainly, there was a little something for every discerning musical palette.

Duke Dumont dropped a hip-grinding set.

Day 1 Highlights: Canadian trio Black Tiger Sex Machine’s (aka BTSM), donning their signature lit-up, tiger helmets, brought an inventive, hard-hitting set. Then Duke Dumont, whose thumping beats were equally energetic, dropped a hot, hip-grinding set, which included faves like his seductive “The Giver” and deep-house ditty “I Got U” (feat. Jax Jones).

The next gift of the holiday season was a killer B2B set featuring Zeds Dead and Jauz, who was voted recently by the fans America’s Best DJ 2017 in DJ Times’ annual poll. (Editor’s Note: Jauz will celebrate his victory at the ABDJ Closing Party at Omnia San Diego Jan. 25.) The pair simply slayed with big Zeds Dead tracks (like “Hadouken,” “Front Lines” with NGHTMRE, and “You Know” with Oliver Heldens) and Jauz bomb/collabs (like “Rock the Party” with Ephwurd, “Higher” with Netsky, and “Ok!” with San Holo). But the killer climax came with new collab, “Lights Go Down,” which blended well with the genre-bending track selections ranging from electro-house to D-n-B and beyond.

Day 1 Highlight: Oliver Heldens brought the heat.

 Oliver Heldens delighted with his youthful energy and a fun-loving set, which included some of his well-loved tracks (“Wombass” and “Gecko”), plus those from his artist alter-ego HI-LO (“Renegade Mastah”). The icing on this already sweet set? In addition to Decadence’s beautiful go-go dancers, fans also got to see mesmerizing aerial, silk acrobats, reminiscent of Cirque Du Soleil – included, no extra charge.

Also, ZHU won over the crowd, as always. The vibe became deeper and more intense once ZHU’s keyboard and unmistakable falsetto pierced the night sky. Such a build-up…. but then that drop! ZHU brought the house down with gems like “Chasing Marrakech,” the eerie “Nightcrawler,” and a tough remix of Migos’ “Bad & Boujee.” Pure mayhem, in the best possible way.

Countdown: Bringing in the New Year on Day 2.

 Day 2 Highlights: This being New Year’s Eve, the vibe was extra-electric with many attendees festively dressed – and the entertainment didn’t disappoint.

Trance titan Armin van Buuren had a curiously earlier set time (8 pm), a clear indication Phoenix was only one stop on his journey into 2018. But his Arizona fans were thrilled, nonetheless. With outstretched arms in his signature pose, he hyped up a packed crowd, starting with some of his more recent commercial hits (“Heading Up High,” “I Need You” and “You Are”). He then crossed over into recent tunes from his weekly online radio show A State Of Trance with cuts like “I Live for That Energy” (ASOT 800 Anthem) and Dash Berlin’s “Shelter” (ASOT 830), before he took it back old-school style.

Destructo (aka Gary Richards) then hit the stage and motivated everyone with a quick fun-fact: “Today is my birthday – so everybody get the fuck up!” And everybody did. After blasting the crowd with some of his own harder tracks (“4 Real,” “Party Up” and “Dare You 2 Move”), Destructo threw in some more melodic tunes (Virtual Self’s “Ghost Voices” and Chris Lake & Chris Lorenzo’s “Nothing Better”) to balance out a terrific set.

Next up, Boys Noize took the desert dancers on a joyride, starting with his own slower, disjointed groove “Overthrow” and then “RunX” (with Baauer), gradually working up the heat with “Cerebral” and “Oh!” Then he dropped what was certainly one of the most popular festival tunes of the 2017… Joyride’s future classic “Hot Drum.” Madness.

With the end of 2017 quickly approaching, Deorro brought the fuego on the mainstage with Latin-flavored crossover hits he’s known and loved for. As the countdown neared, he asked the crowd to remember “all the shitty things that happened in the past year.” After a moment of thought, he turned it around to remind us to recall all the wonderful things that happened and “to let all that negative shit go – nothing but positive vibes.” All-in, the amped crowd counted down the New Year and resolutely carried the party deep into the night. As Decadence blazed to a glorious close, Deorro reminded us to cherish our magical musical nights, share them with those we love and enjoy each moment – it’s all a gift.