– Written by Jason L.

The “perfect chill” before the storm might be the best way to describe the premier weekend of Sensation USA at The Barclays Center in NYC.  Less than 24 hours after Day Two’s opening ceremony, Hurricane Sandy was shutting down New York City left, right, and center; but before that happened 30, 000 people in freshly clad all white apparel experienced what has been revered as one of Europe’s most famous EDM festivals

Sensation relied mainly on its online videos, featuring mesmerizing visuals and thousands of beautiful women dressed in white, to prepare the States for its arrival. Despite the $170 ticket price, these cool tactics proved effective in selling- out both nights in just a few days; even more remarkable since no performers were announced until a few months prior to the event.

But Sensation knows how to party, opting for a slow but steady build over the pyrotechnic approach of younger festivals. Its like the older sibling who’s got it down to a science, creating the perfect atmospherics – glowing orbs and all – for its progressive house beats.  Above all, the organizers understand the value of a good seat – and there are no bad seats at Sensation

The centerpiece of the setup is a massive platform shaped like a giant blossoming flower, which rotates slowly around the room, so that everyone gets face-time with the DJ.  And face-time is a good thing. Because many of the artists were new (or not well-known) to mainstream American EDM fans.

Like the beginning of the opening ceremony, as the room and stage lights winked on and off, the weekend fluctuated between brilliance and minimalism. Both nights kicked off with in-house DJ Mr. White , who in his eerie pale mask played the role perfectly, opening with spare but hypnotic house beats. Saturnight night brought Danny Tenaglia out second; his 30-year career is well-known to New Yorker’s. On Friday, the house opener was followed by local favorite Dennis Ferrer, one of many names new to me.

Double-night headliner Fedde LeGrand, however, was a name we all should recognize.  He kept the vibe smooth and progressive, while busting out satisfying big-room house and electro between more minimal choices.  He even dipped into trance, playing a dynamite Sasha remix of Hot Chip’s Flutes.  The festival’s biggest fireworks punctuated LeGrand’s set, as robed dancers flew above the stage, shooting sparks out in every direction.

With the help of a disembodied narrator’s voice from above, these spirit-like dancers moved one act seamlessly into the next, heightening Sensation’s subtle theatrics.  From Friday’s performances by Joris Voorn, and Nic Fanciulli to Saturday’s by 2000 and One and Mark Knight, the beats flowed warm and constant.

The Festival standout was Mark Knight and it’s no wonder. With his popularity stretching back over a decade, the guy knows how to work a crowd. He’s not afraid to mix in his signature tunes, like the anthemic Alright, with more recent cuts and show the younger set how it’s done.

Sensation’s trip ended like it began, slowly and gently, the lights warming as the music came to an end.  It was beautiful and memorable. This might not fit the bill for every EDM fan.  If you prefer the intensity of dub-step or gravitate to the big-room sound of electro house, you might not appreciate the subtlety and refinement of an event like Sensation.  But it’s hard not to be wowed. In a weekend that will unfortunately be remembered for one very big and unwelcome visitor, Sensation proved the opposite. Let’s hope it stays ashore.


About Amelia Waters