Electronic music seems to be taking over the airways, but I have never been able to understand the allure behind it. In fact, I hate it, and I always have. Whether it is house, techno, dubstep, trance or techno-house-step eurotrance, for me it all falls under the umbrella term of annoying white noise. My personal philosophy is that anything driven by bleeps, bloops, womps, oontzes or any combination thereof should be left out of the music category. Given my relentless distaste for such sounds, one could understandably assume that I did not care for Wolfgang Gartner’s performance at Extravaganza this weekend. As his set progressed, however, I found myself enjoying more and more the spectacle that was unfolding before me.
As Wolfgang took the stage to play, my first instinct was to flee Harder Stadium and seek recluse in the safety of my apartment. Determined to at least try to broaden my horizons, I decided to simply retreat to the bleachers where I could observe the show from a safer distance. I went close to the very top, and had an excellent view of the mob that was quickly building up in anticipation of the coming storm. Many of my friends listen to electronic music, so I had heard a few of Wolfgang’s songs and thought I knew what to expect from him. What I witnessed next was, surprisingly, one of the most beautiful performances I have seen.
I quickly realized that watching this type of music performed live in front of a huge crowd is much different than listening to it from a car stereo. Armed with his various synthesizers and sequencers, Wolfgang controlled the ebbs and flows of hundreds of onlookers with the prowess of an experienced puppet master. There was something transfixing about the way he could make them step, wave their arms, or jump in unison, all without uttering a word. While watching the crazed dances of a few ecstasy-driven concertgoers, the thought crossed my mind that this was probably the happiest moments they would ever experience, and I was honored to witness it. During one bass drop in particular, the collective orgasm that the crowd felt even sent shivers down my spine.
Perhaps my favorite part of Wolfgang Gartner’s performance was the fact that, out of everyone attending, he was clearly the one who enjoyed it the most. Too often do I see artists put on a half-assed show so they can collect their check and move on (certain Extravaganza headliners come to mind). In this case, the crowd fed off of Wolfgang’s energy, and it made the whole experience better. He was excited, which made the crowd excited, which made me excited. It was all very exciting.
Coming out of Extravaganza, I could not say that I would be attending a rave anytime soon. Nor could I say that I liked electronic music anymore because of it. What I did gain was a better understanding of why this craze has swept the country over the past few years, especially within Isla Vista. There was a glimmer of hope that one day I might learn to appreciate these noises.
Piers Fibige is a third-year political science and history major.