Kaskade has had an unbelievable career. This may be a bold statement to some, but after attending his Automatic tour, I have to say he is peaking. With “Automatic,” his ninth album, he proves that an electronic music veteran can be successful without abandoning his roots.
The scene is very different now than when he released his first album in 2003, that’s for sure. Back in the day, electronic music was almost exclusively heard at clubs and smaller venues — the idea of a sold out show at Pier 94 was unheard of. Although Kaskade has become bigger as “EDM” developed, he still manages to stay true to himself while pushing the boundaries of his sound. The tour was a refreshing reminder that Kaskade doesn’t just ride the electronic music waves, he creates them.
Kaskade also has a knack for discovering new musical talent. He introduced us to Galantis last year with his remix of Smile. On “Automatic” he introduced us to CID music, who teamed up with Kaskade for the track “Us” and got the crowd warmed up just before he hit the stage. The New York born DJ/Producer just released his single “Love is Blind” on Big Beats Records and is just starting to emerge after years behind the scenes. He’s worked on tracks like “Summertime Sadness” with Cedric Gervais and remixed Don Diablo’s “You Got Me Thinkin.”
For the ultimate Kaskade fan who has seen him at least 10 times:
I am describing myself here, so I can personally speak on this. My heart stopped when I heard him open with a stripped down version of “I Remember” – one of his classics with Deadmau5. Flashbacks of the first time I saw him at Roseland Ballroom came to my head. To think he opened for Deadmau5 just five years back is almost impossible. He only teased the song, but it was just enough for every long-time Kaskade fans’ satisfaction. He played almost everything off of “Automatic,” throwing in some classics and big room remixes. As always, Kaskade was emotionally connected to the crowd. He stopped to get on the mic at one point to thank the fans and reminisce about the times he used to play for 10 people in the Sullivan Room. Whether you were in the way back of Pier 94 or front and center, you felt like he was speaking to you.
If you’ve never been to Pier 94:
The venue is a huge warehouse, long and pretty narrow. The experience was less intimate than his club shows and the production was much bigger. He used the same stage from Coachella, which was sick. The graphics looked 3D as they spanned across 10 or so different cut out screens, with a main screen as the backdrop. Each cut out cube surrounded his booth and echoed the visuals on the backdrop. Since the venue is so big, it’s easy to get caught all the way in the back. That didn’t matter with the production that Kaskade brought to the table. Everywhere you stood was perfection.
For people who haven’t heard “Automatic”:
Kaskade has never been an artist characterized by “the drop.” While in recent years he has evolved into a more electro, progressive sound, he has always maintained his house roots and “Automatic” is no different. He brought back elements from his early albums like the guitar, piano and solid female vocals that a long-time Kaskade fan can truly appreciate. While returning to his classic house roots, he also freshened them up by mixing in more experimental sounds. Kaskade is fully aware of the current state of dance music. It’s actually ironic for him being a veteran house DJ in the middle of a “future house” movement. One advantage that Kaskade has is that house music is his bread and butter. As opposed to trying to create his house music sound from scratch, he is able to effortlessly evolve. You can expect to hear a range of chill out songs to festival bangers.
The show itself stuck true to the album and felt more like an actual concert than a DJ set, which actually worked well for him. I was going into the show expecting to hear Automatic (obviously), and that’s exactly what he played. He also threw some classics in there that took you on a journey through his career.
For Kaskade fans who have never seen him:
This goes without saying, but you HAVE to get to a show. Being a Kaskade fan and not seeing him live must be torture. To give you a sense of what you’re missing, here are some video highlights:
For people who are asking “What is a Kaskade?”
Kaskade, aka Ryan Raddon, is one of the last standing original house music DJs that came up in Chicago’s house music scene. He’s never had a Billboard top 100 or a commercial radio hit, so unless you are familiar with electronic music then you won’t know him. You might have seen him on Larry King recently or read the New York Times article written about him. But even before he blew up in the eyes of the masses, he was a legend in the underground.
His following is so loyal that people like me will continue to see him 10+ times and never get sick of him. To try and describe his music is so hard because he has such a unique sound. The only word I can think of to describe his music is “pretty.” If you are thinking about dipping into the electronic music waters and aren’t 100 percent sure about it, give Kaskade a shot. He’s not too intense and most of his original songs have lyrics if you’re not into the repetitiveness.