LED celebrates fourth birthday in San Diego


by Alek Sanchez, Staff Writer

Crowds came from all over California to pack the Valley View Casino Center and celebrate with LED for its fourth anniversary. The event brought the biggest artists to the hottest parties in the whole state to San Diego. LED has grown to become a powerhouse promoter with the ability to bring in some of the leading acts in electronic dance music today.

Resident LED DJ Brazabelle opened up the dance floor, and has solidified herself as LED’s favorite introductory DJ. Brazabelle set the festival mood straight from the beginning, bringing a high energy set. It was the perfect build up into the next artist, Valentino Khan. Performing at all three of LED’s California shows that weekend (San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego), this was also Valentino Khan’s birthday weekend, and the audience was happy to have him in San Diego. Infusing lots of hard hitting trap, electro and dubstep, from his massive single “Make Some Noise,” to his remix of Skrillex’s “Recess,” Khan’s set was as diverse and energetic as the OWSLA label he represents.

One of the biggest takeaways of this year’s LED Anniversary has to be LED’s knack of always booking what’s hot, when it’s at its hottest. Currently what’s hot is house. From the Machine, to Jauz, to Jack Beats, LED Anniversary 4 was a house-heavy lineup.

Flipping the commercial “Deep House” movement on its head, up-and-coming LA producer Jauz has caught the attention of the masses with his heavy bass lines and groovy rhythms. His widely played out single, “Feel The Volume,” has been finding its way into nearly every DJ’s set, no matter the genre. It was great to see the crowd react and embrace the change in sound since last year’s Anniversary.

I love seeing LED branch out with its lineups. It has been a huge supporter of experimental electronica duo, The M Machine, which performed a mind melting experience at this year’s LED Anniversary. Touring for its latest EP, “Just Like,” The M Machine’s sound has evolved once again, delivering a unique musical experience full of rewinding samples, hypnotic vocals and plucking strings. Straying away from repetitive drops and cacophonic build-ups, The M Machine created a spellbinding atmosphere that mesmerized the entire Valley View Casino Center.

As the night journeyed its way back toward more of a house sound, London house-heads Jack Beats took Valley View down the rabbit hole with their underground and mesmerizing set. One of the more “underground” artists on LED’s lineup, not many people would have recognized the tech house duo known for their wobbly basslines and huge breakdowns. Dropping classics such as “Ill Sh*t” and “Beatbox,” as well as their latest remixes for Skrillex and Diplo’s “Dirty Vibe” and Destructo’s “Dare You 2 Move,” Jack Beats went to school on San Diego, keeping the masses grooving all night long.

The real stars of the night came on right at midnight. The tag team duo of producers Killagraham and NYMZ, known as Milo and Otis, blew the roof off for LED’s fourth Anniversary. Also performing at all three of LED’s shows throughout California, Milo and Otis turned Valley View into a madhouse with their insane productions such as “Out the Speakers” with A-Trak, “Pigeon,” or their remix of Steve Aoki’s “Rage the Night Away” and crowd-hyping mashups. Everyone was up and out of the seats and dancing the night away. When we thought they couldn’t go any harder, they unleashed their latest [unreleased] hit “#TRAPARMS,” an eruption of thick horns and winding screeching synths. It was impossible not to raise your trap arms. With their endless array of bangers, Milo and Otis certainly know how to work a crowd and never left a dull moment on the dance floor.

I was skeptical of the next performer, DJ Mustard. Credited with a wide array of massive radio hip-hop hits as well as recent collaborations with EDM producers, Cashmere Cat and DJ Snake, I patiently waited to see what this DJ had in store.

As the lights dimmed, the LED panels exploded into a wall of light, and DJ Mustard’s iconic sample “Mustard on da beat” resonated throughout the arena, along with an even louder scream from the crowd. It was no surprise who everyone came out to see. But as Dijon moved from song to song, it was apparent that his skills were best suited away from the decks. Songs were stopped abruptly and new songs started awkwardly, as his set lacked the finesse of the DJ’s performing before him. Deep down, I hope others realized how poor DJ Mustard’s set was, how simplistic his skills are. For a headliner, it was unfortunate that at one point I thought I was listening to someone’s iPod, or even the radio. Dijon’s savvy for knowing exactly what a crowd wants to hear in a song does not necessarily translate into the needed skill for mixing those songs in a performance.

At this point of the night, I’m pretty bummed out, but still hopeful that the dubstep duo of Zeds Dead can at least turn my night around. Their latest EP, “Somewhere Else,” was a stark departure from their dubstep roots that catapulted them into fame. Full of smooth and groovy dance tracks, they even have collaboration with one of the scene’s hottest talent, with Oliver Heldens in “You Know.”

Unfortunately, Zeds Dead were not firing on all cylinders for LED Anniversary. Sometimes it was the musical phrasing that led to awkward transitions that failed to take command of the crowd, other times it would be the light guys mismatching the artist and failing to capitalize on an impact. For a headliner, Zeds Dead delivered a very confusing set that lost the crowd and failed to establish the exact mood they were aiming for.

Though LED’s fourth Anniversary stumbled through the finish line, their solid lineup of artists got them off to a blistering start and set them off on a high octane pace. Duo’s dominated the night, as Milo and Otis, Jack Beats, and the M Machine destroyed the roof and lifted us into musical outer space. LED has grown to host some of the biggest shows in California over the past four years, and I can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeve for us this year!