Kaskade tour is a groundbreaker for electronic dance music

From The Los Angeles Times:

Last month, the producer and DJ Kaskade headlined the opening night of one of the biggest annual concerts in America — the Electric Daisy Carnival at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The San Clemente artist born Ryan Raddon was one of the most anticipated stars at the sold-out festival, which itself proved a testament to the growing influence of dance music across American pop culture.

But even as Raddon played his seductive electronica in front of an estimated 115,000 fans, some decked out in furry neon boots and angel wings, he was already mulling an even bigger milestone — his headlining show at Staples Center on July 27. The event, which sold out a month in advance, makes him the first solo electronic musician to headline the venue, which usually hosts huge mainstream pop and rock acts like Taylor Swift, Rihanna and Usher.

“It’s going to be an emotional moment,” Raddon, 41, said of the Staples gig from his suite in Vegas’ Cosmopolitan resort last month. “I remember where it all came from — playing Avalon, playing to 150 people at King King in Hollywood. I can’t tell you how many club shows I’ve done where there was a stripper behind me.”

All the attention on annual dance-festival events in unconventional outdoor spaces, like Electric Daisy, New York’s Electric Zoo and L.A.’s HARD series, is warranted. But their success might be obscuring an even more telling development in the evolution of electronic dance music (or EDM) as a live music market.

The recent sold-out headlining set by Swedish House Mafia at New York’s Madison Square Garden, Deadmau5’s set at Toronto’s Rogers Centre and the successful group tour of Tiesto, Dada Life, Diplo and Porter Robinson at the Home Depot Center last year all suggest that the leading figures of this music are moving out of commandeered festival spaces and off-the-grid venues. They’re dipping toes into the biggest major-market arenas operated by huge event-promoter conglomerates like AEG and Live Nation. Kaskade’s Staples date is part of a 50-plus-date national tour with many sets planned for similarly scaled arenas in major cities.

These shows portend a new future for the once-marginal culture of live dance music. But they also raise a question — how to preserve a wild, free-form style of music in venues with seat numbers, luxury boxes and $15 beers?

Kaskade, in particular, is a telling test case for the integration of EDM into the existing live music infrastructure.

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