Lights! Purple! Lasers! Pink! Paint explosion! Bass drop! Alcohol! Uninhibited libido! Dancing robot! More alcohol! Trampolines! Neon acrobats! Bigger paint explosion! D-d-d-d-d-drop the bass!
The subjects of those short, fragmented sentences are what keep EDM devotees going. Mention to a dubstep-head the words “lasers” and “bass drop” in the same sentence, and within ten seconds, both of their sleeves will be ripped off and they’ll be dancing to anything that resembles a musical tone. For those people, Friday night in Madison gave them exactly what they love. The concert formerly known as Dayglow, now unfortunately titled “Life in Color” had invaded the Alliant Energy Center. With it came an endless amount of paint. And bass drops. And horny, stimulated 17- to 22-year-olds.
Enlivening this group of shitfaced suburban teenagers was the popular Dutch house duo Bingo Players. Comprised of Paul Baümer & Maarten Hoogstraten, Bingo Players spent nearly two hours Friday night unleashing a torrent of 4/4 beats and bass drops upon a crowd of thousands. As the synths reverberated throughout Exhibition Hall, thousands of dilated pupils glimmered with approval. A particularly incapacitated dude leaned over to me, paint dripping down his face, and said, “The lasers…look so awesome.” I looked up. Indeed, the neon green lasers cutting through the layers of fog were pretty awesome.
As I continued to watch these lights, I began to notice that they weren’t even particularly synced up with the music. They were lights for light’s sake. They were visually stimulating, yes. But that was their sole purpose: additional stimulation in a night already jam-packed with sensory stimuli. What Dayglow is, essentially, is an exercise in carnal pleasures—an orgy tame enough for privileged college kids who call up their parents for grocery money but end up spending it on booze, neon hats and tickets to Dayglow.
At the end of the night I reflected on my Dayglow experience. Because of the nonstop sensory overload, I couldn’t recall a single part of the concert that really stood out. The seconds before a massive bass drop are terribly exhilarating, but when it happens 15+ times throughout an act’s set, it becomes impossible to differentiate between them. So while Dayglow offered few specific memorable instances, it did exactly what it was supposed to.
Dayglow is about immediacy, living in the moment. EDM concerts cater to those who have fully embraced the fast-paced Internet Age, those who feel at home in a digital world with direct access to quick-buffering YouTube videos, internet pornography, and hypermedia. To punctuate the night’s incessant synths and bass drops with moments of calm and respite would be like intentionally slowing a person’s high-speed internet.
But perhaps this is overanalyzing it. In the moment, Dayglow seemed pretty fun. In hindsight, it seems unmemorable, monotonous and, at times, painful. Part of Dayglow’s allure is the neon paint that shoots out upon the crowd nearly every 5 minutes. The novelty is great for the first twenty or so minutes, until you realize that there’s more paint on your head than hair and that this crap really stings when it starts to dry on your skin. During the second half of Bingo Player’s set, I was nearly blind because of the paint in my eyes, and the uncalled-for groping, pushing, and swaying of the crowd didn’t mitigate my disorientation. Is having fun supposed to be this painful?
The night was perfectly summed up the next morning. As I was eating breakfast, my roommate walked out of his room, bags under his eyes, and because of the ringing in his ears, said loudly, “I don’t want to hear a bass drop for at least a week.” Fine by me.