Most festivals these days capitalize on bringing out the biggest names and most talked about artists. It is good for festival promoters because they pocket the money, but unfortunate for attendees because they will eventually see the same artists headlining festivals time and time again. Wavefront Music Festival is different. While a lot of festivals couple as many genres as possible, Wavefront borders on strictly house music, only with a few exceptions throughout the festival. This brings out the core house music lovers in the birth place of house music. It’s a fitting festival in all aspects.
By the time day one of Wavefront rolled around it had already been a long weekend. Fourth of July festivities had already taken a toll on my liver and now three days in the sand and sun would beat me up further. As we approached the festival grounds on Montrose Beach, we began to hear that thunderous four-on-the-floor beat echoing from every direction. The lush green grass was starting to fade and the golden sand started to take its place. There’s not much comparable to having a sandy beach to dance on all weekend. We soon entered the festival and was greeted by smiling faces and very small amounts of clothing…
The queen of minimal came ready to start off the day for me. Expertly reading the crowd as only a veteran DJ can, Magda knew exactly when to turn up the heat a little or when to cool the crowd off. Being “really obsessed with finding a line between things – between sounds and between genres,” Magda ventured through dark tech house that one would find in a concrete confides of Berlin, to light disco reminiscent of a New York rooftop party. Her style and grace are truly one to see, as she effortlessly would mixed three songs together with no miscues.
Fur Coat’s sound is simply heavy. With more of a tribal feel, the duo’s DJ sets always blow me away. Deep, saturated basslines, and percussive elements that will make you feel as though you’re in South America highlighted the DJ’s set. With high energy, and always a smile, the duo worked the crowd well, holding back initially before picking up the pace as their set went on.
DJ Mag’s “Best Breakthrough DJ of 2011,” Maya Jane Coles never disappoints. She really brought it at Wavefront, crossing the boundaries of bootytech, deep house, and techno. Championing her new album, “Comfort,” Coles unleashed a slew of tracks that were perfect for a beach party.
Guy Gerber had one of the most impressive sets of the whole weekend. Right in the middle of his “Wisdom Of The Glove” residency at the world-renowned Pacha, Ibiza, Gerber gave Wavefront a little taste of the experience that promises to take “Ibiza back thirty years.” Having never seen Gerber before, I went in not knowing what to expect, as many have described his sets as bringing you on a “360 degree otherworldly rabbit hole.” Gerber truly brought the listener on a journey through sound and space, controlling the crowd with perfect visuals and a deep recordbox of tracks I had never heard of, but would love to have.
The founder and A&R manager for Life and Death Records, DJ Tennis, brought on the night perfectly with his dark and demented sound. Showcasing much of his label’s best upcoming and past tracks along with other trippy and ethereal songs, Tennis kept a very atmospheric, but energized sound.
dOP came out swinging with a real unique set-up for a deep house crew. The trio consisted of a DJ, who masterfully mixed the bassline and percussive elements into each other, a pianist/analogue player, who provided trippy and ethereal elements to the sound, and a singer/hype man, who had a broad vocal range and tons of energy. Dumping three or four bottles of Belvedere into the crowd’s mouths and slamming a bottle to themselves, this group simply knew how to throw a party. Probably my favorite set of Friday, dOP’s chemistry and stage presence was second to none. The hype man kept constant contact with the crowd, bringing a few on stage, and keeping the whole stage energized.
We went over to the Oasis stage that sat in the middle of the festival grounds. We decided to catch one of the very few live acts happening all weekend, Holy! Ghost. Now, I must clear the air about something here. I usually don’t find many problems with sound interference and overlap from stage-to-stage, but this was too ridiculous not to mention. Being that this stage was in the middle instead of the perimeter of the festival ground (hence Oasis), sound from every stage could be heard from this tent. It was obvious poor planning or last minute decision making, and I have to feel bad for all the artists that played in that tent this past weekend. They were given an opportunity to showcase their music, but circumstances outside of their control may have disappointed quite a few people.
James Murphy was the same situation, only amplified. The two bigger stages were now blaring for the late night acts. The front man from LCD Soundsystem looked like he knew what was going on too. , and he didn’t look happy about it. We will give him an “A” for effort though, he tried his best and I’m sure if we were front row we would have been able to hear perfectly.
As the sun set on sunburnt bodies we started to wander around to each stage and check out a little bit of everyone. The sound interference between each stage became more apparent and more frustrating as we walked to each stage. We ended up staying at Chris Lake b2b TJR for a bit. If you’re a fan of more commercialized pop-sounding house music you’d enjoy this set. While the two on stage did incorporate elements of hard electro, the set was a bit predictable.
We left the first day a bit skeptical about certain things. The sound interference was clearly the biggest issue. While the planning didn’t quite live up to expectations, the music was great. You could tell that every artist knew they were at the premier house music festival and were enjoying it. We were looking forward to Day 2 to see if things would get even more turnt up!