Starscape, Baltimore’s electronic music festival, will celebrate its 10th year of existence this June 7th (though the graphic claims the 9th) at Fort Armistead Park. As widespread public interest in electronic dance music (EDM) has waxed and waned, Starscape has reliably remained the only event in the region able to draw top-notch DJs. The lineup was announced a few days back. The bill is solid, but not spectacular. One would have expected all the stops to be pulled for the 10th year party.
Also, many of the acts were previously booked in recent years, meaning the festival attendee will see nothing new or emerging. I guess that’s the dilemma faced by any promotions company putting together an outdoor music festival—the balance between acts that are reliable product, so to speak, versus the risk of trying something new.
As expected the drum and bass lineup is full of big name like Dieselboy with J Messinian, Dara, Photek, John B, Teebee, etc. Dieselboy and Dara are no strangers to these parts as they have spun at Sonar on numerous occasions. One of my more memorable Starscape moments from the past few years came when I literally bumped into John B behind one of the stages.
On the breaks side you’ve got Krafty Kuts, though I assume he will be appearing sans Dynamite MC (nothing mentioned so far), Reid Speed, and Uberzone. The Uberzone performance at Starscape a couple years back was the highpoint of the night for me. His sets are synthesized and sequenced live as opposed to a DJ set.
And speaking of live EDM performances, Starscape has also got Future Rock on the bill. Future Rock recently opened for Starscape alum and fellow live EDM band Rabbit in the Moon at Sonar in February. There is something about people onstage with banks of synthesizers tweaking knobs that I will always find appealing, no matter how gimmicky the act can be.
Also featured are a fair number of local DJs and electronic musicians of some repute. Given Baltimore’s proximity to DC you’ve got to have some members from Thievery Corporation present, and in this case they will be performing with the See-I dub/ downtempo massive. See-I, too is from DC. And, of course, you’ve got Scott Henry and Charles Feelgood. Fever and Buzz, do those names ring a bell? One could argue that if it weren’t for Scott Henry and Charles Feelgood’s efforts to build the Baltimore/DC scene there would be no Starscape. Joe Nice, another Bmore boy, had his first exposure to EDM at Starscape. He is now one of the few DJs spinning dubstep with creditability outside of England. While Low Budget of Hollertronix may hail from Philly, he is definitely down with the sounds of Bmore. But why not book a DJ that plays Baltimore music and is from Baltimore?
The live, quasi-electronic jam bands are the weakest link among the lineup. I’m generalizing, but the Disco Biscuits have a reputation for drawing a crowd that loves to take drugs, and loves outdoor festivals, so I guess they kind of fit in with Starscape. But why Pasadena? Just contrast that band to some of the internationally touring, world-renowned talent also appearing that night.
After 10 years how relevant is Starscape? It seems the current emerging trends of EDM are largely ignored in favor of what worked 5 or ten years ago. What first drew me to EDM was its status as vanguard music, but a progressive approach to the genre doesn’t seem to be in order for Starscape. Not when you have virtually the same lineup two years in a row.
In other big EDM festival news, the Winter Music Conference is coming up. Aural State will have a correspondent down in Miami covering all the details, and posting daily updates.
Full Starscape 2008 Lineup:
THE DISCO BISCUITS
SLICK RICK THE RULER W/ LIVE BAND
JOHNNY RABB’S BIODIESEL
SEE-I FEAT MEMBERS OF THIEVERY CORPORATION
ROC RAIDA OF THE X-ECUTIONERS
LOW BUDGET OF HOLLERTRONIX
PROXXY & LANTERN
DIESELBOY W/ MC MESSINIAN
LOOK OUT FOR MANY EXCITING ADDITIONS
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