Live: IDentity Festival Houston

CYNTHIA WOODS MITCHELL PAVILION — 8/27/2011: We came, we saw, we left early. We were berated for lack of press pass (thanks, booster club!). We rather unsuccessfully tried to reaffix our apparently fictional press passes back to our shirts, pants, sweaty legs, and, finally, camera bags. We jammed. We rocked. We spent too much on beer.

The IDentity Festival was hot, and we don’t necessarily mean in a sexy way. It was 107 degrees. 107 freaking degrees. But in spite of the will of the bastard sun, and even though half the artists we went to see apparently were not scheduled to perform at the Houston show, we found IDentity to be quite a different creature than we had initially anticipated. While the idea of Ultra might have helped shape our expectations for IDentity, the blatant similarities stopped at the similar lineup.

The first, and most important thing to note, is that IDentity offered something to us non-iPod owners that no festival — at least, none that we’ve attended — has ever offered. Rejoice, Droid owners: finally, there’s an app for that. With our newly-downloaded foresight, we reveled in a few days of advance geek-out time. When the set lists were posted, though, they left something to be desired.

Some of the artists originally billed on the IDentity Website, namely Afrojack, Kaskade, Nero, Skrillex, and Avicii, seemed to be missing from our new favorite app. Hmm. Was this an epic typo? Somehow, while obsessing over the Website for the last two weeks, we’d missed the meaning of all the colorful little alien thingies under each artists name designating which shows they would be performing at. Our bad.

So, we psyched ourselves out. That’s okay. We still got to see The Crystal Method, Rusko, Le Castle Vania, Steve Aoki, and the newly-discovered (at least to us), mega-awesome Booka Shade.

After making a decidedly simple self-preservation decision to wait at least an hour after the doors opened (it’s hot!), we rolled up to the Woodlands Pavilion expecting throngs of pre- and post-teens to be running amok, clad in a multitude of fashion faux pas and sensible shoes.

We arrived at the gates around 2:45 to find a whopping four people in line in front of us and a mere sprinkling of denizens strolling casually inside. Wait, what? Where are the hordes?! We hoped this wasn’t the best that Houston has to offer for the day. Disappointed but not without hope, we acquired a beer and migrated over to the main stage to check out the action.

Let it be said that being at an electronic music festival with seating and seeing all the attendees utilizing said seating is rather…odd.

We meandered a bit, killing time until the first act we were really excited to see took the stage. As profound as it might be to imagine that a band whose sets are performed mostly from prerecorded data could be executed rather simply were they familiar with the procedures, it’s still incredibly impressive when one of a two man band is sick and unable to perform. Enter The Crystal Method.

Being one man down didn’t stop Ken Jordan from blowing us away. We suppose that once an act reaches a status such as The Crystal Method has, anything is possible. We recollected our composure and moved on to the Dim Mak stage to catch Holy Ghost!

Fatality. The heat damn near melted the Yank’s equipment, and after a few brief “oh shit” moments awaiting the fate of their performance, Holy Ghost! began their set, and our fears are quelled. We oooohhed, we awwwweed, we boogied, and we moved on.

Slowly, fans started to trickle into the Pavilion, and we saw our hope for a fantastic event renewed. As we made our way back to the Skullcandy Main Stage, purely for a change of scenery, the crowds started to thicken, and we meandered up to the photo pit, our new favorite place to hang. Really, it had the best view in the house, and you could make googly eyes at the artists.

We had at least an hour or so before the next act that we wanted to see took to the Dim Mak, so we decided to wait it out at the Main Stage and see what all the hullabaloo about the next band, Booka Shade, was all about. Boy, was that a good choice.

Booka Shade was a name that we’d heard in the past, but not one that we ever stopped to consider. From their hella-cool custom LED platforms to their awesomely high energy and back again to the sweet, sweet sounds emanating from their rigs, Booka Shade gave us pause, empowered our shoulders to wiggle, and made us feel great shame for passing them up in our Pandora playlist. Sorry, Booka.

Next up, back to Dim Mak to catch Le Castle Vania. Needless to say, we spent a lot of time going back and forth between the Dim Mak and Skullcandy Stages. (Advent what stage? Maybe if it wasn’t right by the bathroom, we’d have stuck around a bit longer; not that the music was bad, but we don’t particularly enjoy the kawoosh remixes.)

LCV killed it as usual, and in an effort to prevent heat exhaustion, we decided to take refuge in the “makeshift” House of Blues, Woodlands Edition. As we made new friends with a few Woodlands Pavilion employees that were super cool (thanks for hooking up a veggie girl in a meat eater’s world, guys!), we heard the distant sounds of Datsik in the background, echoing from Dim Mak. Much as their name might suggest, Datsik is well, sick; if you approve of the ever scandalous dubstep that is, which, of course, we do.

We soaked up as much air conditioning as is possible for the human body to do, and rather than continue our seemingly neverending game of ping-pong between stages, we decided to mill about the grounds and people watch.

We’ll never get neon. We just won’t.

Growing tired of contemplating the meaning of mirrors and their use in modern day society, we dashed to take our places to catch Rusko for the fifth time in just over 12 months. He’s just so bouncy and full of energy, we can’t help ourselves. Keep noshing on those collard greens, cornbread-and-mac ‘n cheese guy; you’ve earned it.

After a few minutes of Rusko madness, we headed back to Dim Mak for the last time to catch its namesake label’s founder take to the top of his tower of oontz. Precariously perched atop his pyramid of illumination and sound, Steve Aoki reminded us all why we were there. The music was amazing, powerful, and loud; we got lost in the crowd, in the dark, and in the resonance of all the energy that surrounded us.

This was finally what we were missing, completing the experience: dark. Without dark, why spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on the highest-quality, brightest lights ever commissioned? Damn you, Daylight Savings Time. Some things are just better in the dark. Electronic music festivals are definitely one of them.

As the clock ticked closer to 8:30 and we were still sweating, we headed to the lawn to flop and veg and survey all that surrounded us one last time before we called it a night. (Yes, really — we’re old and tired.) We looked around, pleased to find that, although not to capacity, the Pavilion had filled up significantly from the last time we checked. The festival was in full force, music was blaring, bodies were swaying and people were once again getting lost in the music. Satisfied that the festival could now continue on without the necessity of our presence, we reluctantly passed through the gates towards our plucky Japanese chariot and our very brief and, thankfully, very familiar ride home.

IDentity was no Ultra, that’s for sure — but not for lack of much else other than stupid amounts of people, two extra days, and Arepas. While the Woodlands Pavilion might be a decent venue for your standard concert fare, we don’t necessarily see Ultra booking it for version 14 this next March.

Regardless, IDentity was able to keep a broad smile plastered firmly on our faces for the entirety of the day; we heard and saw some of our all time favorite electronic acts, made some new friends at the Pavilion, and left with one more notch on our festival belt and another perfect forever memory. What more could we ask for? END

(Photos: IDentity Festival crowd; The Crystal Method; Booka Shade; Le Castle Vania; Rusko; Steve Aoki. All photos by Karen Hebert.)

Live review by . Live review posted Monday, September 12th, 2011. Filed under Features, Live Reviews.

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6 Responses to “Live: IDentity Festival Houston”

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Live: IDentity Festival Houston | Houston Music Events on September 14th, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    […] SPACE CITY ROCK » Live: IDentity Festival Houston ← (Review) Dom Kennedy Tour: Houston | Houston TREND […]

  2. taryn on September 20th, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    it sucked cuz it wasnt in houston it was at the lame a** pavilion.

  3. old man on September 23rd, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Yall are p*ssies. Leaving at 8:30 and missing both headliners.. Lol. I’m probably older than yall and I stayed for the whole shebang! Also, you could have just used your noggin with the website and clicked on the appropriate city for the show and saw who was gonna be there….
    Was an awesome show though!

  4. Karen Hebert on October 3rd, 2011 at 2:36 am

    I wouldn’t necessarily refer to myself in such a manner, mainly we saw the acts we wanted to see and didn’t feel the need to stay past that. 8:30 might have been a bit of an early estimation I suppose, clearly we stayed long enough to see Aoki (who played until almost 10) work his magic. Logic to some doesn’t always dictate reason to others however, and I’m certainly not about to debate the merits of closing down the pavilion for the sake of validating my street cred versus my decision to leave when I was ready to. In the end, I’m just glad you enjoyed the show old man.

    I admit, I (obviously) agree that the venue could have been better. Taryn, it might have felt more appropriate at Eleanor Tinsley Park, yes? Hell even at Reliant Park, maybe. AC would have been Ah-MAZING.

  5. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 2: IDentity Festival + New York City Queens + excuseMesir + Perseph One + More on August 11th, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    […] than myself when it comes to this stuff, people like SCR‘s own Karen Hebert, who wrote about the IDentity Fest last year, and with luck, she’ll be covering it again today, up in the wooded-yet-sweltering […]

  6. Yr. Weekend, Pt. 2: IDentity Festival + New York … – Space City Rock | The New York City Deal on August 11th, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    […] knowledgeable than myself when it comes to this stuff, people like SCR‘s own Karen Hebert, who wrote about the IDentity Fest last year, and with luck, she’ll be covering it again today, up in the wooded-yet-sweltering […]

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