Bass Music Kings Nero, Bassnectar Light Up Lollapalooza

Meanwhile, young electro stars Zedd, Madeon and Porter Robinson own Friday afternoon on EDM-heavy Perry's Stage.

CHICAGO — Clearly, a tent at Lollapalooza could house electronic music no longer. That was clear on Friday when something in the range of 12,000 fans gathered in an open field at Chicago’s Grant Park to take in the festival’s first day of EDM offerings.

For the performances, founder Perry Farrell and his team set up the enormous Perry’s Stage, which included seven large LED panels and two big paneled islands in the rear that were meant to dazzle concertgoers positioned in the back. By nightfall, aerial views would show a dance-music party lit up like the Fourth of July.

And fireworks were definitely on tap. Bass music gods Nero and Bassnectar closed out Friday’s affair, making the grounds tremble and, at times, drowning out major sets from both Black Sabbath and the Black Keys.

Veteran DJ producer Lorin Ashton (stage name Bassnectar) is well-known for his gut-wrenching drum and bass, dubstep and hip-hop electronica. At Lolla, he jumped around behind the decks, his hair whipping back and forth in black silhouette. And the kids returned his energy, as thousands of hands went up in the air for tracks like “Ugly” and “What,” both from Ashton’s latest album, Vava Voom.

But though the evening was dominated by Nero and BN, who definitely “dropped the bass,” a fraternity of friends and cohorts from the house-music world helped solidify the takeover in the Chi. Often grouped together in conversations about the new generation of EDM superstars, Zedd, Madeon and Porter Robinson played fiery, back-to-back hourlong sets.

Inexplicably donning a long-sleeve jacket and T-shirt in the sweltering heat, Zedd ripped Perry’s Stage with his explosive brand of electro. He had the sea of ravers bouncing to “Shave It” and Tommy Trash’s remix of Swedish House Mafia’s “Antidote.” But then Zedd seamlessly transitioned into a slow rage with Knife Party’s “Until They Kick Us Out”; it was a memorable moment to witness the crowd move right along with him.

Eighteen-year-old Madeon has upped his performance game, signaling drops and twisting knobs with professional swagger. The French phenom roused the crowd with as many hits as he could pack into 60 minutes, moving effortlessly through Thomas Gold’s remix of Miike Snow’s “The Wave,” Nari & Milani’s “Atom” and Hard Rock Sofa’s current smash hit “Here We Go.” A real highlight was watching the crowd erupt for Madeon’s latest piece of studio magic, the new single “Finale.”

Rounding out the trio of upstart performers was 19-year-old Porter Robinson, who dropped the official video for “Language” this week (and recently wrapped his solo tour of the same name). After tutelage from friends Tommy Lee, Aero, deadmau5, Skrillex and Tiësto, PR now plays before crowds like a seasoned pro.

That was certainly the case Friday afternoon as he whipped fans into a frenzy with Knife Party’s “Rage Valley” and a remix of his own “Unison.” The crowd showed their appreciation, singing along to the riff of the euphoric set-closer, “Language.” When MTV News caught up with the three young dance music stars, each praised the other’s abilities. “I absolutely love both of them,” Zedd told us of Madeon and PR. “They are both two of my top five producers and DJs out there.”

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