Benny Benassi’s appearance on Halloween’s Eve at the Earl Warren Showgrounds was a must for any fan of the electronic dance music genre to attend. Santa Barbara was Benassi’s fourth-to-last stop on his North American “Rough Road” Bus Tour, which started on Oct. 17 in Austin, Texas and ends on Nov. 3 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Joining the Italian DJ and producer on his tour were house producer Congorock and the upcoming talent Pink Is Punk.
Considering Benassi is one of the grandfathers of electronic music, fans went all out to uphold rave traditions at the show as well as the spirit of Halloween. College-aged students filled the tent with costumes from various TV shows and movies while others came clad in furry boots, pasties and plush animal hats complete with paws.
But appearances are deceiving, and the majority of those dressed in their raver outfits failed to advocate the only rule when it comes to
electronic dance music: PLUR (Peace, Love, Unity, Respect). These kids seemed to spend more time using their kandi-covered arms to push and shove than to wave them in the air while dancing.
The show started at 7 p.m. with Santa Barbara’s local dance music producer Vital Riots, followed by Pink Is Punk, but the real show did not seem to begin until Congorock took the stage two hours later. Congorock rose to fame in 2010 with his single, “Babylon,” and has released remixes of various popular electronic dance tracks including Benassi’s “Electroman” and “Cinema.” Congorock began to gather the crowd together, which had previously been dispersed throughout the showgrounds, as he played an array of non-stop house hits including Hardwell’s “Spaceman,” Calvin Harris and Rihanna’s “We Found Love” and “Mode” by Bingo Players. However, house was not all Congorock had to offer. He kept the crowd pumped up by switching between fast-paced electronic beats and slower tempo rap songs such as Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “N****s in Paris” and Kanye’s “Mercy.” Benassi finally took stage at 10:30 p.m., which made
the almost half-empty auditorium fill up suddenly. When he walked to the deck, he stood there for a few seconds smiling contently at the crowd before he finally placed his finger on a single dial and produced a beat. He teased the crowd for a good five minutes before playing a distinct tune, and from there on, the audience went absolutely wild for the rest of the night. Benassi played a lot more progressive house laden with heavy beats and the first sign of anything familiar only happened halfway through his set with the familiar intro of his 2011 hit single “Cinema.” After leaving a moment for the audience to sing the lyrics, Benassi proceeded to play the only version of “Cinema” that some say precedes Skrillex’s remix.
The rest of the set was typical of Benassi’s house sets as he mixed in Alesso and Dirty South’s heart- wrenching “City of Dreams,” Kaskade’s “Llove” and a few Swedish House Mafia songs such as “One” and “Antidote.” As the night came to an end, he began to drop the songs from his 2011 album Electroman that everyone had been waiting for. Following a special re-appearance of Pink Is Punk to broadcast their newest song together titled “Perfect Storm,” Benassi played club favorites such as “Beautiful People” featuring Chris Brown’s vocals, followed by the dynamic laser sounds of “House Music.” As the night came to an end, Benassi wished us all to have a happy Halloween in his Italian accent and teased us with promises of one last song, which turned out to be his rise to fame single from 2003, “Satisfaction.” As little of a surprise the song choice was, it did leave us, well, satisfied.