As the resurgence of electronic music became stronger in 2011, so did its support from the local scene of EDM enthusiasts. This unwavering dedication gave bookers and promoters the freedom to experiment with the popularity of lesser known subgenres of dance music. First came Infected Mushroom at The Vogue in June. They're an Israeli-born psychedelic and trance group characterized by frequent drops, impassioned vocals, and live instrumentation that's heavy and dark. Later, in November, Ohio-based demonic duo RoeVy laid their wrath upon The Mousetrap at Altered Thurzdaze with glitchy techno beats, hard-hitting electro house and an unmistakable robot voice that attendees surely heard repeating RoeVy's name in their nightmares.
Best Live EDM: Big Gigantic and Eumatik at The Bluebird
Livetronica gained a lot of momentum in 2011. Giving curious fans of jam and progressive rock a foot in the door, this "gateway genre" helped many traditionalists to unearth their budding appreciation for electronic music. Local freak-out jazz trio Eumatik emerged as the Naptown authority on livetronica in 2011, landing the opening slot for Big Gigantic when they hit Bloomington's Bluebird in October. Achieving the perfect balance of tightly produced dance beats and improvisational jams, Big Gigantic mixed trendy hip-hop samples, dance-worthy dubstep and endless live saxophone to deliver the best livetronica show this year.
Biggest and Best EDM Show in Indiana in 2011 That Never Happened: Deadmau5 at IU
When GLOWfest put more than 5,000 tickets on sale to see wildly popular Deadmau5 perform in Bloomington, the show had potential to be Indiana's biggest EDM event of the year. But when B-Town fell victim to Indiana's unpredictable and adverse fall weather, relentless rain forced organizers to question safety aspects of the evening's festivities (Deadmau5 had nearly a million dollars of stage equipment at risk, not to mention the field-turned-mud-pit that fans would have spent hours dancing around in). The show was ultimately cancelled just before the outdoor venue was scheduled to open, sending hundreds of travelers home and inciting angry protest on social media. Bloomington's staple live music venue, The Bluebird, acted as the alternate location for the cancelled show but served little condolences, as under-21 ticketholders were forbidden entrance and the 800-capacity club left a difference of more than 4,000 Deadmau5 fans outside waiting to get in.
Best Dubstep Show: Zeds Dead at Deluxe at The Amber Room
There's no denying that dubstep went mainstream in 2011. There are subgenres of the subgenre (drumstep, dubcore, dub-hop/hip-step, brostep), a newly emerged industry of witty dubstep t-shirts and a fairly decent amount of dubstep haters. Just like anything else that goes mainstream, it all starts to look and sound the same, replicated with mediocrity and spreading with astonishing velocity. Toronto dubstep duo Zeds Dead achieves the exact opposite by creating their own high-energy, electro-fused breed of dubstep that abandons the traditional seizure-inducing noise associated with the genre. Possibly boosted by the youthful energy of the 18+ crowd admitted to newly-opened club Deluxe, Zeds Dead was more than just grimy womp-wobbles; it was a beautifully vigorous night of cutting-edge dubstep production and joyful, bouncing dance.
Grooviest EDM Show: Eliott Lipp/Samples at The Mousetrap
As a recurring name in the festival circuit and with a handful of recent performances in Indiana, Eliott Lipp was one of Altered Thurzdaze's most established headliners in 2011. Undoubtedly, one of the weekly event's highest attended nights in its own history, The Mousetrap reached a unique level of occupancy that can only be defined as "Twin Cat Status," my own phrase, coined after the only other band that I've ever seen pack The Trap shoulder-to-shoulder. Lipp's liquid jams were especially accessible, too, offering smooth, glitchy soundscapes with an easy-to-find beat that made even a novice dancer feel sexy. Bass heads hung around after Lipp's performance for a special treat from Colorado-based Ben Samples; his contrasting set provided the hard beats and glitchhoppy goodness that Altered Thurzdaze has built a reputation around.
Best Overall: Identity at Verizon Wireless
Yes, it was disheartening that tickets were literally given away by the handful to boost attendance levels at Identity in the same month that DJ Pauly D sold out a club downtown for $20 a head. Despite this sad truth, Identity still ranks as the best overall EDM experience in 2011, thanks in large part to its mega-diverse lineup full of famous artusts. Identity embodied a true festival atmosphere that included a midway full of corporate and grassroots vendors, as well as a free seating policy that granted any ticketholder access to the pavilion. While day-long festivals are common place at Verizon Wireless, they are never specifically catered to the electronic genre. So, to convene with the greater Indianapolis community of EDM fans inside the giant venue was certainly an inspiring day for underground dance music fans.