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June 28, 2014 at 5:58 PM

Paradiso 2014 off to an earthshaking start | Concert review

Seattle Times contributor Terry Wood reports:

GEORGE, Wash. — Day One of Paradiso, the electronic dance music festival hosted for a third straight year Friday and Saturday at the Gorge, was awash in earthshaking beats and PLUR — Peace, Love, Unity and Respect, the founding credo of a growing musical movement that has evolved out of rave culture.

Fans were in abundance, too. Every general-admission ticket was sold, and it appeared nearly every attendee was under 30, more than half opting to display more skin than clothing for Friday’s 11-act mainstage bill.

Hot fashion items at Paradiso 2014: tutus, gladiator sandals/leggings, fluffies (knee-to-heel shag carpeting in rainbow hues), chaps, flowered headbands, velvet harem pants, fishnet tops and bottoms, spirit hoods (animal-themed headwear/handwarmers) and maybe 4,000 variations of bikinis, most of them thongs.

Tobin, a 25-year-old Seattleite and mechanical engineering grad from UW, said he spent six months preparing the centerpiece of his Paradiso costume: a dazzling, pneumatically-powered electronic headpiece that gave him the neck-up look of a praying mantis out of “Transformers.” When lit, his creation surrounded his head in an aqua-and-white aura.

His companion, 24-year-old Monica, wore a dress that swayed with electroluminescent fiber optics.

Why bother?

“We do it for the amusement of others,” Tobin said. (First names are all anyone cares to use in the rave/electronic dance music community.) “It’s our contribution to the spectacle.”

That’s the upbeat spirit intended to fuel the EDM (electronic dance music) scene, summed up in the acronym PLUR.

“Spread the love” are common EDM parting words. Early in its 90-minute, 11 p.m. set, the English trance trio Above & Beyond posted a textlike message on the mammoth Gorge backdrop: “Look around you: This place is full of your future friends.”

Music is the tribe’s common thread (cynics say it’s euphoria-inducing drugs), and Friday’s mainstage leaned heavily on bone-rattling thunderclaps of deep bass that sent swaying listeners into fevered paroxysms.

Bassnectar, supporting the release of his 10th album (“Noise vs. Beauty”), emphasized the noise in a closing set that began a little before 1 a.m. Accompanied by towering, eye-popping visuals, Bassnectar’s devastating downbeats were raw and industrial, brute-force beats not for the faint of heart.

Trance specialists Above & Beyond served up a radiant, well-paced, pulsating set that emphasized more flow than frenzy until the final 20 minutes, when the trio triggered its own salvo of high-powered beats. Embellished at one point by glowing, lantern-like jellyfish on long-poled parasols that fans passed around, the musicality of A&B’s brand of EDM makes it one of the genre’s most stylish acts.

Saturday’s lineup was slated to be topped by German producer/DJ Zedd, producer of the song “Aura” on Lady Gaga’s 2013 album “Artpop.”

Comments | More in Dance, Electronic | Topics: Bassnectar, Paradiso 2014

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