Hardwell redefined my opinion of Electronic Dance Music during his show Saturday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.
The environment was just as I had predicted. This unseen life-force called music emanated from the stage, attracting a massive crowd that wore typical rave attire. Human beings became totally stripped of identity as they dissipated into an ocean of tightly pressed bodies, colliding with one another. The tremors of bass flowed through my body, making my brain feel numb. Eventually, I became lost in the hyperreality of it all.
EDM is a genre that has always been associated with the party culture of college. The allure lies in the music’s ability to incite energy in a crowd, rather than providing insight like more traditional styles of music. I discovered that you can’t review artists in this genre based on the songs that were played. Instead, it’s based on the DJ’s ability to guide the audience on a mind-bending journey of lights and sound. The transitions between the sets of Dannic, Dyro, and Hardwell were so well-entwined, I could hardly tell when one DJ ended and another began. There were no individual songs, only a seemingly endless wave of music where the crowd could find solace.
For a moment, time froze in the heart of Hardwell’s set as I gazed upon my peers through the fog, lasers, and strobe lights. I saw them jumping and gyrating with their hands in the air, moving in unison to the cadence of the four-four. Nobody had a care in the world, including myself. In this moment, I finally felt it. It was a release that so many search for through prayer or meditation.The EDM genre became transcendental.
Prior to this show, I failed to understand the artistic value of EDM, but now it has become quite apparent. There is no time or place for interpreting meaning for this music. The only way to react to it is by dancing in approval or walking out the door. There is no passive consumption because the sound is too dominating and the energy is too intense. The genre heavily relies on the social experience and interconnecting the audience in order to create a sense of community and belonging. And by the time the show fades away, audience members feel refreshed as they reflect on how the previous hours unfolded.