Sunset Music Festival expands EDM lineup for year 2
DJ David Guetta performs onstage during the 2013 Billboard Music Awards on May 19.
If a first-year music festival draws 8,000 people to an NFL stadium in the sweltering heat of late May in Tampa, how on earth does it grow? At that point, is there really any room to get bigger?
The organizers of Saturday's Sunset Music Festival believe so. In bringing some of the biggest names in electronic dance music (EDM) to Raymond James Stadium, the fest expects to double, maybe even triple its attendance in year two.
Festival spokesman Evan Bailey of Disco Donnie Presents said ticket sales have long since eclipsed last year's total, due in no small part to a lineup packed with big names, from A-list DJ/producers David Guetta and Steve Aoki to up-and-coming EDM acts like Krewella, Knife Party and Flosstradamus.
"What you'll find with festivals is they're sort of a brand-focused thing," Bailey said. "Year one, they cautiously optimistically may support you, but typically, year two, year three, you start to see it become part of the fabric of a community, in the sense that they anticipate it, they know about it, they know what to expect. There's a little bit of trust built there. That also allows us to do bigger and better things with the lineup and production."
The Sunset crew also looked at things that could have gone better in 2012 and will apply those lessons to 2013. To combat the heat, Bailey said they're adding a pair of water slides and more free water stations (though you do have to purchase a refillable bottle). They'll also boost security and add cell phone charging stations and other conveniences. "It becomes this little city, so you want to have amenities so they can keep themselves comfortable."
When the initial lineup was announced, some diehard EDM fans groused online that headliners Guetta and Aoki were too pop-oriented, and that Sunset 2013 — like electronic music in general — might be getting too mainstream. So two weeks ago, organizers diversified the lineup by adding a third stage dedicated entirely to trance music, featuring popular club DJs like Ferry Corsten and Markus Schulz.
Devin Spears, a Tampa DJ who goes by the handle Nerd Rage, said that for a festival like Sunset to grow, it's necessary to bring in names familiar to both hardcore and casual EDM fans.
"With David Guetta and Steve Aoki on the bill, we can kind of attract that mainstream crowd that hasn't been to a festival yet, or hasn't been to a nightclub, and it gives them an opportunity to have that experience," said Spears, who will take the stage on Saturday. "The people that listen to them are not always the kind of kids that want to go out and go to clubs. You can get the regular mainstream people, too, who just drive and listen to the radio. Then they come out and are like, 'Wow, this is actually really cool!' And hopefully do it again next year."
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Sunset Music Festival
The electronic festival runs noon to midnight Saturday in the North Lot of Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Tickets are $89-$149. Prohibited items include pets, laser pointers, video cameras, banners and posters, umbrellas, chairs, blankets, stuffed animals, professional A/V equipment or outside food or beverages. Outside water bottles and bags (i.e. CamelBaks) are prohibited, but water bottles will be sold inside the festival grounds, with free refills all day. For full details and a complete schedule of set times, see smftampa.com.
The Sunset Music Festival is planning two afterparties. The first features Krewella, Doko and Basomatik, and is 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. at the Amphitheatre, 1609 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City; tickets are $25 and up. A bass afterparty will feature Herobust, Nerd Rage, Mr. Saturn and Winta from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. at Hogan's Beach, 7700 Courtney Campbell Causeway, Tampa; tickets are $10-$15. For tickets to both parties, visit smftampa.com.
.don't miss these
They've got the beat
What about the other 30-plus DJs and EDM acts on the bill? We asked Tampa DJ Nerd Rage and Evan Bailey of Disco Donnie Presents to suggest can't-miss acts.
Forget Guetta — the hottest hit you'll hear on Saturday is Alive, the debut single from Chicago trio Krewella, which reached the Top 40 this spring. Singing sisters Yasmine and Jahan Yousaf and DJ/producer Rain Man played one of the most anticipated sets at this year's Ultra Music Festival, after which Billboard predicted, "Krewella will be huge this year."
Australian electro-house duo Knife Party have called their tracks "seizure music." That tag may owe as much to their spectacular, festival-friendly light displays as it does to the blipping, blooping, swooping, crashing sound of hit Internet Friends. "Knife Party is an amazing experience," Bailey said. "I wouldn't miss it, I'll put it to you that way."
Le Castle Vania
Atlanta DJ Dylan Eiland is the man behind this blood-pumping electro project. Spears said Le Castle Vania's rock-star stage presence helped inspire him to start his own high-energy parties in Tampa, including Pound (or "#") at the Amphitheatre on Friday nights. "I've always loved his style of music, very heavy, just like me — hard rock 'n' roll electro style," he said.
Trap music has roots in Southern hip-hop, but the genre crashed the mainstream in 2013 thanks to Baauer's Harlem Shake. Like Baauer, Diplo and Lex Luger, Chicago duo Flosstradamus is "one of the best producers of trap music right now," said Spears.
If you dig the minimalist, bass-heavy sound of trap, check out L.A. DJ Dillon Francis, who specializes in moombahton, a fusion of house and dancehall music. "A lot of the same people digging on Flosstradamus will also like Dillon, if they haven't heard him," said Bailey.
Veteran progressive house producer Morgan Page has received a pair of Grammy nominations and worked with everyone from Deadmau5 to Katy Perry to Tegan and Sara, but Bailey said he's also become a dynamic live act. "I saw him play a festival the other day, and I said, 'Wow, he's grown in the festival space. He really can command a crowd at this point.'"