Last year we closed off a brilliant 2014 by sharing our favorite sets of the year with you. While the choices were personal and mirrored each of the DownBeats’ staff individual taste, we had one simple criteria to follow: we must have experienced the chosen sets live ourselves.
If 2014 was a big year for DownBeats, 2015 saw us expand far and beyond anything we had anticipated. We were there for the yearly must-attend events that included Miami Music Week, Movement in Detroit and Electric Forest, but also expanded by visiting a large number of new festivals and locations. We were seen spreading the message of safe hearing in Ibiza, at Burning Man, in Thailand for the Full Moon parties and within the techno warehouse confines of Time Warp US in Brooklyn. Further we made our debut at a flurry of young festivals including Northern Nights Music Festival in Northern California, Freaky Deaky and Mamby on the Beach in Chicago and the Dirtybird Campout in SoCal.
When all was said and done, this past year marked unprecedented expansion for DownBeats allowing us to share our mission of ear safety to hundreds of thousands of dance music fans across the globe. It seems fitting to close out the year as we did 365 days ago, by presenting to you our favorite moments of 2015:
The Chemical Brothers at North Coast Music Festival, Chicago: “This one was a no-brainer. The British electronica duo cemented the release of their latest Grammy-nominated album Born in the Echoes by returning to Chicago’s North Coast Music Festival with a new mind-blowing live-stage concept and performance. Although North Coast is one of the smallest festivals in Chicago, the return of The Chemical Brothers highlighted the its broad appeal six years since inception. Closing out the weekend with one of the most influential acts in dance music history made it an unforgettable experience that will be hard to top in festivals to come” – Marco
Big Gigantic at Summer Set Music Festival, Wisconsin: “My love for Big Gigantic has never been a secret, but this was one of their better shows I have seen. They’ve really come into their own over the course of the last year and now are truly a must-see festival headliner. I can’t wait to see them on the circuit again in 2016.” – Derin
Maya Jane Coles at Movement, Detroit: “To stand out as someone’s best set at a festival with an illustrious line-up such as Movement’s is quite the feat. Maya went one above it for me this year, delivery my favorite festival set of 2015 with a relentless afternoon performance at the Beatport stage earlier in May. The weather was perfect, the backdrop of Detroit’s skyline and Canada across the river nothing short of unforgettable, and the music, as we’ve been accustomed to over the years by the young British producer, perfectly fit for the occasion.”
Mind Against at Enter, Space Ibiza: “Not only were Mind Against my favorite set of a night that billed them alongside Richie Hawtin, Marcel Dettmann, Julian Jeweil, Matador and Dubfire amongst others, they delivered a performance that I wish I could see repeated to this day. It truly is no surprise to me that they broke the Top 20 in Resident Advisor’s Top 100 DJ Poll of 2015 a mere four years after beginning their project: dark, deep and certainly ethereal, their performance on the Space terrace is one I will never forget.” – Marco
Skrillex at XS, Las Vegas: “Vegas is the new mecca of mainstream EDM and during a trip to Sin City I had the opportunity to check out several of its main club attractions including Encore, Omnia, and XS. Although each had their appeal, only one of them had Skrillex. While Sonny Moore often gets a lot of public hate, the talent of his musicianship as a DJ is undeniable. His four hour set went by at a blistering pace, jumping from classic hip hop, to dubstep, to trap, with a whole lot of other genres thrown into the mix. With XS being a relatively accessible club relative to the sardine cans of places like Omnia, it made the experience that much better.” – Derin
Mihai Popoviciu at Flash, Washington D.C.: “I had hardly heard of Mihai before seeing him live at Flash earlier this year, the mystery adding to the allure of what has surely become my favorite club set of 2015. Non-stop tech house from beginning to end, the Romanian producer had me grooving all night with his distinctive flavorous sound, warm pads and catchy vocals.” – Paul
Steve Rachmad aka Sterac at Interface/Scene Movement Afterparty at the Works, Detroit: “There are several factors that make Interface/Scene a must-attend party for anyone in Detroit during Movement weekend. The Works is a small, grungy venue that truly embodies the spirit of Detroit’s techno and the Interface/Scene teams consistently deliver with a line-up and audio/visual set up that is second to none. Rachmad’s performance was timeless and filled with the type of hard-hitting techno that had my chest bones vibrating and my feet two-stepping from beginning to end. I was sad to see his performance end to give space to Rødhåd, the night’s widely-anticipated headliner – it was that good.” – Marco
Incorrect Music After-hours, Groove Cruise Miami: “It might be a bit of a cop out to call four nights of after-hours my favorite, but with the curated line-up that Anthony Attalla put together for Groove Cruise‘s 10 year anniversary I couldn’t choose anything else. Night after night we were treated to sets by virtually the entire Incorrect Music crew, including Anthony himself, Cocodrills, Chus & Ceballos, and more going until 10 am or later. Nothing in 2015 has been more memorable than seeing the sun rise over the Bahamas with a great deep house soundtrack.” – Derin
Lee Curtiss at Paradigm Movement After-Party, Leland City Club Detroit: “Paradigm Presents has taken over Leland City Club’s Movement Detroit after-parties for the last several years bringing some of the best line-ups of the entire weekend to the Motor City. During a three-night period that featured the who’s who of dance music including RA’s Top two DJs of 2015 in Dixon and Maceo Plex, it was Lee Curtiss that stole the show for me. The Detroit native and one-third member of Visionquest put his crate-digging skills to excellent use dropping gem after gem on the crowd in front of him, and we all loved it.” – Paul