The good folks of Identity Festival, which comes to Shoreline this Saturday, don't want to lie to you. Yet despite what they've claimed, they're not the first-ever electronic touring festival ever seen in America. It's merely the first electronic-only touring festival that has visited major outdoor amphitheatres in North America. That's a big difference.
These fine distinctions have somehow eluded other reporters both local and national. And of course, when people like headliner Steve Aoki repeat it in interviews, it starts to take hold that EDM maybe didn't exist until major players like William Morris Agency and Live Nation took notice. Granted, due to all sorts of, um, mitigating factors, it can be hard for some hardcore EDM punters to recall the exact details concerning their culture's gradual ascent to mainstream acceptance in the States. But without the often thankless efforts of countless promoters, DJs, and scenesters throughout the country over two decades, you'd probably still be screaming "disco sucks" at every act taking the stage this weekend at Shoreline. Here's a sampling of the EDM tours that came before IDentity.
1. Rave New World/ 2. See The Light: Back before Odd Future was baiting the public, Larry Clark's film Kids spread the moral panic regarding skatekids, ravers, and their wanton ways to the art-house crowds. It also launched the careers of Harmony Korine and Chloe Sevigny and paid a visit to Korine and Sevigny's old hangout, NASA -- the club night which, alongside the infamous Storm Raves, served as Ground Zero for the NYC Rave scene in the early '90s and was co-promoted by Scotto and DJ db. While we can blame these guys for baggy oversized jeans and Dr. Seuss hats, we also can thank them for the first two national EDM tours. The first one, Rave New World, stretched from January to February of 1993 and hit 26 cities, featuring Scotto's old raver pal Moby alongside John Acquaviva, The Prodigy in their first US tour, and Richie Hawtin, who pulled double-duty solo and as part of the duo Cybersonic with Detroit techno pioneer Dan "DBX" Bell. According to Scotto, who now lives in Southern Pennsylvania, the botched L.A. date got shut down by the fire marshal and precipitated a skirmish amongst pissed-off ravers, one of the first in a proud tradition of L.A. rave riots. Still, all went well enough to launch off a sequel, "See The Light," which brought Moby out for another tour alongside Vaporspace, Orbital, Aphex Twin (who performed with a male dancer), and DJ Tim from Utah Saints, that October and November.
Not everybody on the tour got the idea of performing to a fraction of the crowds they enjoyed in Europe. "[The Prodigy] were typical whiny crew, complaining constantly on the tour bus. I told them 'Look, you have to brand yourself here. Eventually they came around by the end of the tour," Scotto recalls. But the scene would never again be more DIY or possess more anarchic and idealistic energy -- and Moby would never again have more hair -- as he and it did during those early days. Scotto's own footage (above) bears witness.