Identity Fest 2012 – Tampa Recap
Honestly, I didn’t have very high expectations for Identity Festival this time around after what happened when they came to Florida last year. The Miami date was canceled, and the Tampa date (which was on a Wednesday) lacked the luster of a full-fledged festival due to the minimal attendance and talent on the lineup. If I remember correctly, Nero and DJ Shadow were the only two big names at the Tampa event last year, and many people couldn’t make it to the mid-week show. However, Live Nation learned from their experience and came back to Florida this year with a vengeance.
Probably in the running for venue with the worst name ever, the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheater at the Florida State Fairgrounds, played host for Identity’s Tampa stop this year. With 3 stages of solid sound and thousands of travelling ravers converging for this one gathering, it certainly felt like a festival.
A cool breeze and a light overcast, saved everyone from cooking alive in the scorching Florida heat, leaving festival-goers in a rather relaxed mood. There was no sense of “I need to hurry over to this stage to catch this artist”. From anywhere I stood inside the venue I could hear good music and I found myself wandering around and taking in as much as I could.
In my wanderings I stumbled across a group called The Eye, playing early on the main stage. They had an impressive presence with a dynamic range of style that had the crowd in an uproar. They caught my attention with their singer getting down to some proper Drum and Bass, so I stayed and watched them transition into some uplifting House and Trance. The vibe of their set was really nice and the tracks were solid, though mildly generic sounding.
Truth be told, I spent most of my time inside the warehouse where the Rockstar stage was. The lineup was sick to begin with, and a last minute change added LeCastle Vania to the list of bass titans set to damage the dance floor that evening. Armed with a deep back-catalogue, LeCastle Vania did an impressive job taking the crowd on a journey through is works. From older tracks like ‘Zero Machine’, to his most recent jam ‘Play Loud’, his mix was quite satisfying to see as a fan. I think the only track I was surprised not to hear was his remix of “Rave is King”, but I have no complaints about the performance at all.
Up next was the highly anticipated Doctor P. Thousands of us gathered, stoked for the first Florida appearance of this highly respected innovator. Everyone was eager to get down and as soon as the bass dropped in his first track you could almost feel everyone collectively let loose. Though his set contained more commercial tracks than I expected, the doctor did a great job building up the crowd’s energy until climaxing into some rowdy Drum and Bass. I found myself jumping around in the middle of the crowd singing along to Pendulum’s ‘Tarantula’, like it never got old. A good time was had, and I don’t think any fans walked away unsatisfied.
After Doctor P’s set was complete, the mighty Noisia stepped up to the decks and to my utter dismay nearly half of the crowd walked away. I’m sure that Wolfgang Gartner coming up on the main stage had something to do with it, but I still found it quite shocking. Immediately after I realized what happened, I noticed that the thinning crowd revealed several of my long-time friends still getting down to the deep and grimy Neurofunk. As we showed our respect on the dance floor, we agreed that most of the young EDM fans that left probably didn’t have the ears to pick up on the advanced style that Noisia brings anyway. Needless to say, Noisia thoroughly rocked the place with an onslaught of dirty dubs and DnB, satisfying every true fan that remained in their presence. My interview with Doctor P required me to leave before Noisia was done, but my anticipation left no room for regret.
When I first met up with Doctor P things were a little tense. I could tell by the way they looked at us, that Sean and his manager, Lanval, had no idea what to make of myself and my partner Julio, at first, but once we had a second to chill inside their tour bus things became much more relaxed. We kept the interview extremely informal and enjoyed the company of their entourage including the beautiful and talented Eva. Sean is a very collected and chill individual. Not very talkative or forthcoming, I got the sense that he is more of a reserved person. Our conversation covered the history and success of Circle Records, their newest team member, and plans for Doctor P’s forthcoming EP. Both Sean and his manager were very cordial and I enjoyed being able to hang out with them.
We wrapped up the interview with Doctor P just in time for our scheduled meeting with Le Castle Vania, so Julio and I hung out around the dressing rooms where we had planned to meet. As we we’re hanging out I was approached by a guy named Thomas who said he recognized me from the Electrojams shirt I was wearing, and it turned out to be Noisia’s manager – The same guy who helped setup the signed vinyl giveaway contest when the Imperial EP dropped a few months back. I was blown away. He introduced us to Theijs and Martijn, (two of my musical heros) and we hung out for a few moments until we decided that Dylan of Le Castle Vania wasn’t going to show and everyone wanted to catch the end of Excision set. I must say it was quite fulfilling to have the opportunity to tell the dudes from Noisia how much respect I have for them. The most interesting part of that whole situation is that they were out where standing out there next to us waiting to meet Wolfgang Gartner.
After heading back to the Rockstar stage, we parted ways with the boys from Noisia and watched Excision work over the crowd like the pro he is. Seamlessly transitioning between nearly every bass music genre, Excision kept the vibe at a raging peak until the very end. My only complaint is that he wasn’t loud enough. After catching him on the X-Tour with the ridiculous setup they played on, I was hoping they would have some additional sound added to the sage at Identity. It didn’t take anything away from his set, but his bass certainly didn’t have the same impact as the last time I saw him play.
I left Identity Fest this year with good vibes and in a positive headspace. The mood was uplifting and nearly everyone still had a smile on their face on the way out of the fairgrounds. If ID Fest hasn’t stopped near you yet and you’re debating on going, don’t miss out. With cheap tickets and a world-class lineup, it’s probably the best deal on a show of this caliber you will find this summer.