Happy New Year everyone! And how happy of a new year it was in Dallas for the 50,000+ in expected attendance to the 3rd annual Lights All Night festival. Now to preface, I am not exactly an expert on EDM festivals. I have only been to one EDM festival prior to Lights All Night, that being Counterpoint. So to be honest, what I had come to expect from going to Counterpoint did not help me as much as I thought for Lights All Night. No, Lights All Night would prove to be a different beast entirely.
To start, let’s discuss the controversy over the times. Lights All Night was scheduled to end this year each night at midnight, which is a bit early by rave standards. To be honest, I was a bit flustered by this. With almost two LAN days fitting into one, I was worried that it’d all just seem to rushed. In retrospect, the schedule worked on a no-rest-for-the-weary kind of way. Festival time conflicts are always something you have to deal with, but LAN made you deal with them on an almost panicky frame of time. If I could compare LAN to any music festival, I feel it would be on the same level as the Van’s Warped Tour. The setup of the festival was what saved it, with the stages somewhat close, you could usually follow the pattern of Hanger stage passing the Fountain stage to Club LAN stage, to Main Stage and back to the Hanger.
Each night after the festival ended, official after parties were offered through a Dallas night club named Zouk for an additional $20 on top of your Lights All Night tickets. What ended up happening, however, was Zouk would oversell tickets and ask for $50 to skip to the head of the line. Needless to say, the after parties were rumored to be incredible, but I was never able to get there quickly enough to make it in without being drained off all my funds. In the end, I decided to take the festival as it was, and judge it accordingly.
The stages were gorgeous. I never thought I’d party in a giant hanger with a stage at one end. The Hanger stage had some technical difficulties the first night, but the second and third nights proved it to be my favorite place to be. Club LAN had a cube of LED screens with the DJ booth at the top, situated amongst four podiums for dance acts. Finally the Main stage was just a large scale version of what I’ve come to expect from festivals.
Overall, I tried to mix up my trance, dubstep and trap musical selections as much as I could while still seeing everyone I had purchased the ticket to see. Overall, the only change I would have made was to have seen Zedd for far longer than Feed Me. Otherwise, I seemed to end up at the better show each time I moved.
Day one was mostly my trial day of getting the layout of the land down and understand the schedule. The shows that stuck out on day one: Madeon played an incredible set, as well as Zedd (of course) and Avicii. I finished the night off with the opening of Tiesto into Flux Pavillion, who while playing “I can’t stop” effectively shut down the entire stage for a solid minute. People had begun to leave before he actually picked it back up. Would I have done it? No, but it was still pretty witty.
Day two opened up the festival to the real trials, and after being denied entry because I had a totem, so I missed Keys n Krates, but made it back in time for Adventure Club, who absolutely killed it! With a quick stop at Nervo, I moved on to Tommy Trash and Bingo Players, both fantastic. That led right into The White Panda, who I’ve wanted to see for a good amount of time. I was not disappointed. A-Track gave a wonderful show at the main stage, followed by a bit of Calvin Harris, but I had to leave for Zeds Dead. Bassnectar started my ending ceremonies but I decided to leave in time to catch the end of Alesso, who ended with his “In My Mind” for an incredible closing to Sunday.
Monday, now totemless, I faced the hardest challenge of Lights All Night: the Krewella, Baauer, Herobust hour. I did my best to see all three as much as possible, as each were spectacular while I was there. In the end, I think Baauer took the hour, and I heard he was host of the afterparty (such travesties…). Figure and 3LAU may have easily been my favorite acts overall, with incredible stage presence and nasty drops. These two acts were followed by some of the most fun scheduling I’ve ever experienced at a festival: Diplo to 12th Planet to Minnesota. All I can say for this period of time is wow, especially for Minnesota.
In the end, it was Axwell versus Nero’s DJ set. Of course I would not be disappointed by Axwell, I mean who could be? But Nero was calling me at the end of the night, and for ringing in Midnight, Nero was my choice. As I heard later, Axwell played a tearjerker of “Don’t you worry child” to an American flag background. Cool, I say. But Nero… Nero did it right.
At midnight, Nero dropped Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody for a crowd of at least 8,000. To balloons dropping and confetti flying, I grabbed on to my friends and fellow ravers, huddled together and sang to the new year. It was incredibly moving. Nero had blown my expectations out of the water. This had been the best New Years I had ever had.
In the end, Lights All Night had taught me that all festivals are different, each have their own vibes, but all festivals bring out love from ever attending person. If you missed LAN this year, plan on going next year. It’s really something you don’t want to miss.