Lights All Nights, Dallas


text: Alex Gavin

New Year’s Eve is always a toss up. But it’s a time we should all embrace with open arms and be prepared to expect the unexpected.

Traditionally, every December 31st that you’ve been wise enough to steal booze from dad’s liquor cabinet has been doubtless plagued by a set of over-hyped expectations.  It’s interesting since this is a day that (in non-Western circumstances) could be considered just like any other. But instead of bitching, let’s take a moment to admire the fact that on this day, once each year, we are handed a hall pass from social norms.

NYE is an open invitation to embrace the Hedonist within, and sterling examples of this mindset shined at the dawn of 2012 at the Dallas Convention Center for Lights All Night.

The best thing about an event like LAN is the “One Size Fits All” approach to planning a night like New Year’s Eve. Let’s be honest, the New Year is always a clusterfuck of coordination, and as time rolls on and the self-perpetuating one upmanship of the whole thing caves in on itself like the swan song of your virginity, we graduate to a level of New Year’s foolery that involves spending twice the cash to do things otherwise considered undesirable; all in celebration of a forcibly glorious night. Sounds pretty silly, but luckily you can just pay people to plan these things for you. Easy enough?

LAN is the second coming of Dallas’ newest electronic festival darling, taking place on a balmy December night in my home state of Texas.

Since its genesis last year, the party has grown from humble origins as a one night stand to a formidable two-night behemoth featuring some marquee names plucked from the ministry of womp. Few people recognize Dallas’ dance music heritage, so it is good to see an event of this type take root back in the Dirty.

Saturday night featured a set of performances highlighted by Treasure Fingers, Girl Talk, MSTRKRFT and Wolfgang Gartneramong many others. As is tradition with most things NYE, crowds were rampant and the lines of people stretched in every direction. Once inside the open venue space was massive, providing patches of wide-open dancefloor and crowd-dodging refuge. It was a big sweaty, bassy mob of people at times, but Dallas’ mashup of traditional rave culture and local debutant chic was people watching at its finest.

Hotlanta native and Fool’s Gold representative Treasure Fingersprovided one of the early highs on the Groove Stage as he spun his taste of nu-disco and feel-good dance. It was a shame to find him tucked away and sandwiched between big draws Girl Talk and Zed’s Dead.

Treasure Finger’s Groove Stage was somewhat isolated from the main stages of Dance and Bass, and only a handful of people experienced his set. If there is any drawback of these multi-artist, multi-stage extravaganzas, it would be the painstaking process of show-selection triage.

As midnight crept in I caught myself shuffling between two stages, weaving and bobbing around an impossibly neon crowd vibrating in various states of sobriety.

With everyone distracted by prepping for the Big Midnight Moment, I was able to swoop in stage side just in time for Greg Gillis, the one-man show that is Girl Talk, to kick off the nights headlining acts.

Shirtless and screaming (that was the theme from this point forward, it seemed) Greg prompted the crowd to “Get the fuck ready for this,” as he tore into mashup upon mashup of crowd-pleasing pop laced with an encyclopedic touch of sampling magic.

There is something for everyone at a Girl Talk show, and if you are uninterested in trying to pin down the origins of his Sample McFlurry, just get your ass on stage and start dancing. Either way, you should partake in the spectacle.

MSTRKRFT was Canada’s lone representative at this year’s LAN, but the duo of Al P and JFK ripped the North well. It had been years since I last saw the two perform, and to be honest I had fallen out of love with their music in our time apart. But, all of that changed after their first big bassy drop of the new year. Their set was just massive.

The two dipped into their own discography from time to time, and I was able to ear a few singles that (I was told) are part of their new release scheduled for early 2012. Everyone keep a look out for that, apparently MSTRKRFT is back.

The big name closer for the main stage came in the form of Wolfgang Gartner, Austin, Texas’ own wizard of womp. Wolfgangis positioning himself as the next Deadmau5, with production credits slowly creeping into the radio circuit and pop markets. I have a feeling that 2012 will end up being the year of Wolfgang, and this should make us all happy people.

By the time he hit the stage, the crowd’s collective inhibitions were nowhere to be found. Scandalously clad dancers bookended his turntables for the duration of his set, and drop after drop prompted thousands to lose whatever shit they had remaining. It was like he wanted to suck everyone dry, claiming whatever energy the crowd had left in the tank.  As the house lights came up and the night came to a close, you could feel the exhaustion radiating from the crowd. Mission accomplished, Mr. Gartner.

One night each year we all seem to sink into a primal version of ourselves. It is inevitable. I guess it has to do with the moon, or something. But for whatever reason, humans are really into celebrating this numerical tabula rasa of the Gregorian calendar.

I have always been slightly amazed and partly concerned by mankind’s obsession with the Night of Nights, and a singular New Year’s Eve party in Dallas, Texas changed these suspicions to doctrine: people are insane. But, you’ve got to love it.

Founder and Editor in Chief, Toronto

A near decade ago Kateryna realized that it was time to translate her passion for music into a tangible product which very quickly became the first iteration of Today Kateryna is spearheading what has become a recognized North American music publication with a team of contributors across major Canadian and US cities, documenting stories and shining a spotlight on new music. Kateryna also currently holds a seat on the FACTOR jury board. Working as a Design Director in emerging tech by day Kateryna splits her time between these two different industries consistently searching for talent and opportunities to grow the publication in new ways. Still very much actively writing herself she can be often spotted in photo pits of various stages across the city and sharing live from international music festivals showcasing a range of genres from indie, to reggae, to obscure sub-genres of electronic.