What Kaskade's small-venue tour says about the future of dance music
Kaskade is embarking on a small-venue tour, which is quite the change for the Grammy nominated EDM producer. Ask any DJ and producer who was spinning/attending shows in the '90s, or even into the early 2000s, and the general consensus would be that it's a great lifestyle, but not one that would ever lead to headlining festivals or solo arena tours.
The past three years have seen multitudes of solo artists backed by elaborate visual spectacles selling out venues around the world. For some artists, the first EDM show they attended happened to be one they were headlining (we see you, Porter Robinson.) But Kaskade is switching things up with this Redux tour, playing the incredibly cozy confines of NORAD this Friday.
Kaskade, a.k.a. Ryan Raddon, announced the nine-city tour officially called "It's you, It's me Redux." On his Tumblr, Raddon offers an explanation of his motives. "My intention: to play small clubs, and for all who participated to be taken back a decade, when it was all about the music," he wrote. Stripping down the production of a major tour and playing smaller venues is becoming something of a trend in the EDM world for its biggest names.
In early 2014, Skrillex embarked on his warehouse takeover, and whereas the capacity of these venues exceeded 3,000 at times, the idea to remove the visual distraction from the audio seemed to be something new for the man partially responsible for ushering in an entire generation of dance music fans.
For Raddon, these shows are about the feeling of the venue. It's about the seemingly lost sense of community that once flourished in the house, techno, deep, minimal, dubstep, jungle, and drum and bass scenes.
Skrillex's production at Red Rocks included fire works, pyro, and a spaceship
For Kaskade to embark on his Redux tour, he is getting back to his own roots. He is taking it back to the clubs that once valued a connection with the DJ - the person who sets the mood and controls the ride. "When you close your eyes, you're not missing anything; you're doing it right," he says in regard to the tour. The question remains, though, whether or not this trend will catch on with other underground-turned-mainstream artists.
A Kaskade Redux tour won't necessarily breathe new life into a genre all on its own. Skrillex won't usher in a new era of minimalism simply by leaving his spaceship stage production in another warehouse.
But the fact that the DJs at the top of the commercial EDM field are trying things like this suggests the change may be coming. The genre's bubble may be close to its pop. It will be an interesting and nearly unprecedented development if the artists control what happens next.
Kaskade plays NORAD on May 9. The show sold out in less than two hours.
Follow Britt Chester on Twitter at @awfullybrittish.