There were only three items on Kaskade’s Friday agenda, according to his Twitter feed: “Eat hog dog, ride Cyclone, smash it.” The final item on that to-do-list was ceremoniously checked off at Brooklyn’s MCU Park, where the Chicago-born DJ and electronic dance musician brought his Freaks of Nature tour to more than 8,000 fans on a cool summer night in Coney Island.
Fresh off his performance at the Electric Daisy Carnival in Vegas, Kaskade performed against the backdrop of the famous Brooklyn boardwalk renowned for its oddities and curiosities; he filled the minor league baseball stadium with the soaring vocals of Mindy Gledhill from his single, “Eyes,” before dropping the bass and delivering more than 90 minutes of adrenaline-fueled house music.
Playing to an undulating sea of fluorescent shorts and neon sunglasses, Kaskade stretched and twisted tracks like “Lessons In Love,” featuring Neon Trees, and the song “It’s You, It’s Me,” off his 2006 album, Here & Now. Fans positioned near center field huddled onto the baseball diamond and filtered into the stands. Dance music has always been as much about what happens on the floor as in the booth or onstage, and few understand this as well as Kaskade, who illuminated and enveloped the crowd with reams of confetti, gigantic white balloons, numerous LED screens and an array of stage lights, all on a scale that matched the massive beats.
With a career that spans the rise of EDM in the United States, Kaskade (a.k.a. Ryan Raddon) has positioned himself as one of the preeminent DJs in a genre crowded with his European counterparts and dubstep newcomers. He recently closed out a night at Coachella with a rousing set opposite Radiohead and performed a key slot at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami.
One of Kaskade’s stated goals is to move dance music from the clubs into open-air festival venues, and his Freaks tour went lengths to bring a high-voltage house performance into the 21st century. Positioned on each side of the stage, LED screens were synchronized with vaguely psychedelic images of flowers, smoke, and intricate cityscapes – a strange and beautiful contrast to the Ferris wheel and 85-year-old Cyclone roller coaster off in the distance.
Before bidding goodbye to his “beautiful friends,” the DJ especially thanked those who waited outside at a lengthy will-call line. Next up: a performance at Montreal’s Olympia Theatre on Saturday, where he’ll be able to duplicate the excitement but will have to forgo the ocean breeze and the fireworks. “Only in New York,” Kaskade beamed from the stage.