Fantazia brings multimedia EDM event to Mullins

By Hannah Friedstein

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After a year filled with visits from heavyweight electronic dance music artists (such as Tiesto, Deadmau5, Rusko, Afrojack and Avicii), NV Concepts and Mass EDMC teamed up once again to bring a totally new EDM experience to the Mullins Center Saturday evening. Drawing inspiration from Sensation, the large-scale EDM festival held in Europe, Fantazia was able to bring a unique and unexpected production to the University of Massachusetts.

 

The 360 degree element was what made this production stand out amongst the other shows headlined by more established artists. The audience surrounded the stage, giving everyone the best seat in the house. A platform on top the stage catered to the 360 experience, as it rotated throughout the night, giving everyone a chance to enjoy the music while creating the feel of a personal connection between audience and DJ.  Introducing this new stage layout to a United States EDM production pushed boundaries and raised the bar for more unique and surprising shows to hit the Mullins Center in the future.

 

Although the show was advertised as a combination of EDM and theatrical performances, no one really knew what to expect in terms of how the production would be pulled off. The theatrical trailer put online gave a hint at a fantastical narrative of escape into a medieval world of intrigue and proved to be the underlying theme of the entire show. A girl dressed as a UMass student appeared onstage, circled by the mysterious and tempting DSK CHK, putting a face to the mentality of everyone on the floor, an escape from the hard weeks of finals to come and leaving all that stress behind for one night in the world of Fantazia.

 

DSK CHK, who previously opened for Rusko in February, was given an immense career boost by being asked to return to the Mullins Center to headline the event. His strong theatrical presence was a great fit for this type of show. His signature Guy Fawkes mask added a sense of eeriness and uncertainty, which played into the show’s theme of intertwining fear with excitement.

 

His turntable, which was positioned over the keys of a large piano, gave the impression that he was some sort of “Phantom of the Opera” character, which enchanted both the aforementioned female student and the audience as a whole through his masked identity. The carnival aspect of Fantazia, including fire dancers, aerialists, contortionists and a character covered in white balloons bewitched the crowd and served as perfect entertainment to accompany electronic music.

 

What the previous two DJ’s lacked in theatrical performances, they made up in musical diversity. DSK CHK spun mainly house, playing a few main tracks and tweaking them in subtle ways. Rapture, who opened the event, displayed immense variety, playing a combination of groovy house, hip-hop and earth shattering dubstep while also displaying truly unique improvisational turntable abilities. Playing such crowd favorites as Bassnectar’s “Bass Head” really boosted the energy on the floor, which carried on through the duration of the show. Rapture’s performance, however, lacked any true visual accompaniment save for two large screens on either side of the Mullins Center floor that featured projected visuals.

 

It wasn’t until Bamboora began his set that all of the lights within the arena were turned off and huge beams of colorful light spread across the crowd. Bamboora needed the backup of such stunning visuals, for his set lacked the versatility of his opener, sticking mainly to house but dipping here and there into dubstep.

 

It was very interesting to see the show unfold, mostly for the theatrical aspects that Fantazia featured. Each DJ became less impressive than the first, but the performances by the Flambeaux Fire Performers became more and more dazzling, leaving a lasting impression. Fantazia 360 was a truly unique experience and was a display of the creative talents of both NV Concepts and MASS EDMC, but ultimately emphasized the circus acts rather than the EDM that has become so popular here at UMass.

Hannah Friedstein can be reached at [email protected].