Kaskade invaded the West Coast over the weekend as part of his summer Freaks of Nature Tour with stops in LA, San Francisco and Las Vegas. We were lucky enough to attend both sold out shows in LA, first at Staples Center and then the after party at Exchange LA. Naturally, we couldn't help but compare the two to see which was better. For LA-based DJ Ryan Raddon, Freaks of Nature marks the biggest tour of his career with more than 50 North American shows playing at venues of all sizes from ballrooms, theaters and arenas. But which of his Saturday night gigs produced the best atmosphere and all around EDM show? Take a look at our notes and decide.
Winner: Exchange LA
If you are an electronic dance music junkie like us, then chances are you have already seen Kaskade this year at either Ultra Music Festival, Coachella and/or EDC. This is not including the countless times you made the trip to Vegas to catch him at Marquee. The FON Tour set at the Staples Center was very similar to his Coachella set with lots of predictable yet electrifying Kaskade mash-ups and edits of his hits. Don't get us wrong this set was banging and he played really hard for the LA crowd who loves to get down to the Swedish House Mafia and Knife Party bangers, but as EDM enthusiasts we love to hear new shit too. He did play an awesome new unreleased track "No One Knows Who We Are" and an Alex Gaudino "I'm in love" vs. Kaskade's "I'll Never Dream" mash-up that made us go bananas!
At Exchange LA, Kaskade surprised us by bringing it back to the old school, teleporting us back about 10 years with his barrage of deep house and tech house. He impressed us with his smooth transitions and flow of songs like Todd Terry's remix of Prok N Fitch's "Bounce That Beat." He really showcased his capabilities as a DJ by reading the crowd and keeping everyone dancing well into the night. It was a whole new experience seeing him on the decks in this Ibiza-like after party and even more impressive that he didn't play any of the same tracks from the Staples Center. He did close out the party with a few of his hits, but we think all in all it was a very refreshing not typical Kaskade sound.
2. The Production
Winner: Staples Center
Marking an industry milestone by selling out the Staples Center, Kaskade produced his own brand new stage set up for Freaks of Nature Tour. His own stage effects and custom set list made it so the arena was filled with a sensory overload of lights and lasers, cutting edge LED walls that displayed song lyrics and images, epic confetti and fog blasting into the crowds. The FON butterfly silhouette was everywhere as fans put the masks on and raged with them in the crowds. Towards the end of the set neon beach balls were released into the crowd during "It's You It's Me" as they adorned the floor level.
Exchange LA offered state-of-the-art lighting, lasers, visuals and a Funktion-One sound system that blew us away. Partnering with Insomniac Events the production value at this event was on par to any of its festival shows in a more intimate venue. Go-go dancers dressed in sexy robot like outfits and wigs took the stage with Kaskade as the LED wall changed shapes and colors to the beat. Lasers filled the room as people on the dance floor got up on shoulders to catch a better view just like at a festival. We still think the Staples Center wins this round for its massiveness. The only things missing were the fireworks!
3. The Venue
Winner: Exchange LA
Kaskade is the first electronic dance artist to ever solo-headline the massive Staples Center, but is dance music really meant to be experienced in arena or stadium seating? Sensation makes use of their space accordingly and puts the DJ stage in the middle so that it doesn't matter where you are you still can feel a part of the music and the show. At the Staples Center, unless you were on the floor then you had a shitty view of the main stage and it was hard to feel the awesome energy on the pit.
Exchange LA is a beautiful and stimulating venue spanning 25,000 square feet. As the original location of the Los Angeles Stock Exchange in the 30s, this venue was transformed into a Las Vegas-style nightclub with luxurious art deco and architecture. It's intimacy also allowed for a great view of the DJ from the dance floor to the upstairs VIP balconies which surround the entire club. Though there wasn't ample room to dance at this sold out event, it did provide for that same house music experience where you meet strangers and connect because you are vibing to the same beat. The energy was unreal.
4. The Crowd
Winner: Exchange LA
The Staples Center was filled with thousands of people from kandi kids, college ravers and other EDC types, to industry people and even celebs like Kendall and Kylie Jenner. Diehard Kaskade fans were singing along to the words and screamed as he transitioned into each song because they recognized it. The Burning Man folk really came out dressed in bear costumes, masks, tutus and fluffies. Lots of people had custom made Kaskade shirts, tops and accessories which gave it a real festival vibe.
Exchange LA was overflowing with party people and, the most obvious difference, a strictly 21-and-over crowd. Hardcore house heads were in heaven as he played a deep cut, non- mainstream set. The real difference was people just out wanting to have a good time and hear some good music, rather than trendy kids wanting to espouse their newfound love for EDM. It was actually refreshing to be around like-minded individuals but still hear a world renowned DJ.
5. The Ticket Prices
Winner: Staples Center
The Staples Center had tickets to the Freaks of Nature Tour ranging from $20 to $45 before they sold out months in advance. After that they were going on sale by scalpers from $70 in the nose bleeds to $150 and that's not including the VIP or box suite tickets. For a history making event like this we think the $20 price tag, if you were lucky enough to get it was more than worth it!
Exchange LA's tickets started at $45 (and eventually climbed to $65 before the event) not including taxes and fees and went up all the way to $250 to get VIP which included an open bar! Not only were these tickets almost impossible to get but they were being sold online by scalpers for an even heftier price tag. Exchange LA tried to control the scalper issue by releasing a couple hundred more tickets, but those went by instantly.
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It seems like Kaskade is doing his best to keep all of his fans happy. From the old school San Francisco and Los Angeles followers to a much younger newbie EDM generation. Its quite simple, if the Freaks of Nature Tour is too mainstream for you then we recommend seeing him at a club and if you complain about his club gigs being too underground then go to his big venue shows and be wowed there.