A lot about this year's Caffeine spring-break blowout was a repeat from last year, from the venue (which, as previously noted on this blog, has improved its sound quality immensely) to a decent portion of the headlining lineup (Dave Aude, DJ Micro, Jon Bishop). This time around, though, acts like Richard Vission were added to the mix and the night started off with double-DJ sets at every stage until 10 p.m.
I arrived just in time to catch the last few minutes of Kostas vs. Hycloud on the main stage, but I preferred the harder sounds of Gunner and Strike's tag-team set on the Sunflower stage. Local legends Dragon and Trajikk then took the main stage at 9 p.m. to battle it out, and they threw down the trance-y, dance-y sounds that have made them so popular in these waters.
Wandering around, there was a lot going on between the five stages -- in the A-Raz vs. D-Loc set on the Tulip stage, one of the DJs mixed in the Tetris theme song, causing a lot of unintended dancing in the hallways by passersby.
Of course, these types of events don't really get started until much later in the evening. Jon Bishop threw down a set on the main stage between 10 and 11 p.m., and although it was a tight, decent set and his mixes were clean, I found it somewhat uninspired.
Also, Bishop was introduced as the "number one hard house DJ in the world." Now, unless somehow hard house has morphed into more Paul Oakenfold-inspired than DJ Irene-led, I don't see how Bishop qualifies as a hard-house DJ -- he can call himself whatever he likes, of course, but Bishop plays the most trance-infused house I've ever heard, with its soaring melodies and staccato beats.
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Dave Aude was up next at 11 p.m., and he immediately turned toward a harder, dirtier version of house -- more aligned with electro -- that got thousands of asses on the dance floor. There's a reason Aude, Vission and DJ Micro have been around for years and years in the electronic music scene, and this is where the party really kicked off. Those guys know how to hype a crowd and pack a dance floor, and Aude kicked it off perfectly, setting the tone for the rest of the evening.
When Richard Vission hit the stage at 12:15 a.m., the crowd was truly primed. Vission started out with some more of Bishop's style of "house" -- very trance-like tracks with female vocalists singing about love and life.
Decent, if you're into that type of music, but personally, I was glad when he started getting dirtier and harder with his house selections, banging out tracks with bass that boomed across the dance floor, representing the sound that earned him the moniker "Humpty" a decade ago.
Right around 1:30, when he was supposed to be wrapping up his set, Vission spun in the opening guitar riffs from Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" into a booty-shakin' house track, which would have been a perfect wrap-up to his time on stage.
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Although DJ Micro was supposed to come on at 1:30, Vission -- or someone not Micro -- stayed on the decks until 2:06, alternating between the banging house beats and soaring trance tracks. (I'm not 100 percent sure it was Vission on the decks ... a lot of DJs only bring enough records with them for their set, and although nobody announced a change in DJs, someone else could have taken over for Vission without an announcement. At any rate, someone continued his set, blending one track into another.)
Ironically, although Micro is classified by some as a trance DJ, I found his set to be one of the hardest and dirtiest of the night -- Micro's trance sounds more like dirty techno or electro to my ears. I caught about half of his set, and wished he would have come on stage at the appointed time, so I could have caught more, because at this point it was way past my bedtime, and I had to start thinking about the drive home.
Even so, It was a fabulous way to wrap up the night, and Triad Dragons could do worse than bring back this lineup (or some incarnation thereof) for next year's eleventh annual Spring Break party.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: I am decidedly a syncopated rhythm girl. my favorite styles of electronic music are downtempo, trip-hop, drum and bass, breakbeats -- that kind of thing. So the fact that this all-house lineup got my ass shaking on the dance floor should tell you something about the quality of the tunes. Random Detail: Quite a few people were wearing fuzzy bunny ears in honor of next week's holiday. And at least half of them that I saw were guys. Way to rock the bunny ears, fellas. By The Way: The people dressed in the insane Hello Kitty costumes (Hello Kitty wearing a purple ball gown and white tuxedo) had a line of people waiting to take pictures with them. As warm and crowded as that dance floor was, I salute their enthusiasm for dressing up.