Review – Global Dance Festival Upped the Ante for EDM

This past weekend, Global Dance Festival took over Empower Field for the annual celebration of electronic music and the eclectic spirit that encompasses all things EDM. From the impressive stage designs to the unique, psychedelic atmosphere complete with a Ferris wheel, bounce house and other classic carnival rides, the festival proved to provide more than just an impressive lineup.

The most frustrating thing about the festival, besides the outlandish $14 price tag for alcoholic beverages, was choosing which artist to see. At any given point, the stacked lineup meant difficult decisions had to be made. Tchami, or Riot Ten? Dr. P and Funtcase, or Luzcid? Really, it all depended on your personal taste. The sheer diversity of the lineup meant there was something for everyone. Thankfully, there wasn’t a single disappointing performance.

Global Dance Festival

The VIP experience, however, is another story. Of course, there were nicer bathrooms and slightly shorter drink lines, but only the Summit Stage had a special VIP section to watch the superstars like Illenium and Kaskade end the night with a bang. Even then, the VIP section proved to be almost unbearable without proper earplugs. The bass completely overwhelmed all other parts of Kaskade’s performance, making it difficult to enjoy. Thankfully, just a few hundred feet away from the massive Summit Stage where Kaskade was watching thousands of fans sing every word to his classic anthems like “With You” and “On Your Mind,” Zomboy was delivering one of his best sets to date.

Global Dance Festival

One thing is for sure, Zomboy knows how to get the crowd moving. His sound is as diverse as the Global Dance Festival lineup itself, ranging from stadium-ready anthems and traditional house music to the chaotic drum and bass music we’ve all come to know and love. There wasn’t a single dull moment, and everything seemed to work together in harmony, as evidenced by the synchronicity of the crowd as they all headbanged in unison. The impressive light show, which included LED lights that hung from the ceiling and seemed to crawl across the top of the tent, brought everything together perfectly.

For fans of the lighter, more accessible sound of Illenium, his performance met all the marks of a classic Illenium show, with a little twist — he went back to back with Said the Sky and Dabin. The B3B performance was truly impressive and meticulously thought out. The standout of the group, however, was Said the Sky. A frequent collaborator who’s made music with Illenium for years, their chemistry was undeniable. Each DJ knew their role, and never intruded on one another.

Global Dance Festival

As thousands of people made their way home, a satisfying ringing in their ears that always marks the end of EDM festivals, it was clear that the audience was pleased with the Global Dance Festival experience. Casual fans and hardcore bass heads coexisted in harmony as they sang praises for the experience on their journey home. Overall, everything at the Global Dance Festival was handled responsibly, and each artist put on a great performance for their fans. This year was one for the books, and points to a promising future as the festival returns post-COVID. 

All photography by Brandon Johnson