Amsterdam, Holland – In 1978, The Who’s Roger Daltrey sang these Pete Townshend-penned words: “Goodbye Sister Disco/And to your clubs and your tramps.” For many, it seemed to be moment of rockist triumphalism, as dancefloor-driven sounds and its culture began to bloat, then eventually wane.
Now, three-plus decades later at Amsterdam Dance Event, in a time when the popularity of DJ culture is spiking beyond all comprehension, Beatport CEO Matt Adell repeated another famous Townshend lyric, one that reflected today’s musical leanings: “Rock is dead.”
Yup, here at Amsterdam Dance Event, where the world’s dance-music movers and shakers are congregating and confabbing thru Sunday, there was a tiny degree of chest-thumping at the massive success the industry and its various genres have been enjoying—especially in America.
In the “Global Club Culture: The State of the Club Nation Debate” panel this past Wednesday, Adell said, “I don’t think there is an ‘EDM bubble,’ as people like to call it. The computer has replaced the guitar as this generation’s main instrument. With those tools, you can make any kind of music—it’s just a matter of time ’til a country artist, for example, makes an album entirely on Ableton Live. So it’s not a bubble, it’s a cultural shift—rock-n-roll is dead.”
Well! On the same panel, James Algate, VP of Music for Angel Management Group of Las Vegas, which books superclub Hakkasan, discussed the main difference from DJs playing Vegas and those playing more underground clubs like New York’s Output and Cielo.
“We are polar opposites,” he said to fellow panelist Nicolas Matar, who runs both Cielo and Output. “Output DJs would get booed off the stage and have drinks thrown at them at Hakkasan. In Vegas, there’s lots of [megaclub] competition. If you don’t play the songs the fans expect, they have three or four other properties to visit in Vegas and they’ll get to hear what they like.”
The next day, Richie Hawtin addressed that very notion on his own “Q&A” session. In between discussing his successful Enter. party in Ibiza and various exciting new markets he’s experienced (South Africa and India), he was asked about his own upcoming Oct. 26 date at Las Vegas’ Marquee club.
“In Vegas, you have a lot of the clubs playing the same music and I get that fans do come out for that,” he said. “But I also believe that they need something different from the sameness, and I’ve always been an alternative to that. Really, I’m looking to deliver that ‘fuck-you moment.’
“And what I mean by that is when everything is in sync—the music, the video, the lighting, the experience—there’s that moment when an audience just collectively has a reaction to it all, like it’s something they’ve never experienced before. It’s like thinking, ‘Oh my God—how is he doing that?’
“For me, as a fan, those singular, exciting moments came when I was going to warehouse parties in Detroit. They blew my mind and that’s how I was inspired to write a track like ‘Spastik.’ It was from a ‘fuck-you moment.’ It was pure inspiration. So, yeah, in Vegas I want to create a ‘fuck-you moment’ because I don’t think the people are getting enough of them these days.”