7 Ways Time Warp Has Revived Techno in the U.S. [Event Review]

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Birthed in the city of Detroit, Michigan during the mid to late 80s, techno emerged as electronic dance music’s earliest forms, incorporating the sounds of Chicago house, funk, electro, and electric jazz with an Afro twist. At a time when the American underground dance music scene was thriving, techno struggled to gain a substantial following interest in the U.S. aside from the regional scenes in Detroit, New York, and Chicago. Detroit based producers became frustrated with the lack of opportunity stateside, and eventually looked towards Europe where original techno music had generated considerable buzz in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium. This became known as the techno exodus and the U.S.-born sound caught on, just as the rave and club scene exploded in Europe. Fast forward to today,and one has to question how such a respected and established techno festival like Time Warp is making its way ashore the U.S. for the first time, on its twentieth anniversary. The simple answer to that question is that in years past, the festival may have had difficulty generating enough buzz to launch an event on U.S. soil that would rival its european counterparts. However, 2014 is different and we may be looking at a start of a new era. The homecoming of techno.

Now onto the main event. 7 Ways in which Time Warp has revived techno in the US:

1. Bringing back chic warehouse parties

Like any festival debut, attaining perfection is not possible and in the case of Time Warp US, growing pains were definitely apparent. With an unexpected venue change weeks prior to the event, from the Bronx Armory to the 39th Street Pier in Brooklyn, leaving fans in the dark regarding some of the festival details. This venue rendering kept many at ease though. Although the Bronx Armory would have been structurally and acoustically more appropriate for the festival, I believe the 39th Street Pier venue ended up working out extremely well, as it exuded the vibes of an old-school warehouse party with a modern flair, much to the delight of both seasoned techno-heads and newbies alike. The separation into two stages introduced an air of variety that allowed festival-goers to flow from room to room as they pleased. The second stage also featured a smaller and more intimate floor, creating an almost private set atmosphere. Overall the darkness and vastness of the 39th Street Pier provided ample space for techno-heads to thrive and dance to their heart’s content.

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2. Who wouldn’t want to party in an arctic cave?

Flown all the way from the lands across the pond, Time Warp brought along their famed ‘Cave’ design concept. Consisting of a dazzling full-floor design, modeled after an actual arctic ice cave, The Cave worked to unify the stage and dance floor, creating a unbelievably surreal audiovisual experience. The Cave design also featured a ceiling full of hanging tapestries that gave the production team extreme flexibility in terms of the ambiance, acting as a blank canvas waiting to be painted. The light team definitely deserves a few daps as they absolutely killed the floor to ceiling production, often using their wide palette of lights and effects to transform the room from an aquatic wonderland to a chamber dripping in magma, deep within the Earth’s mantle. The exceptional   festival production values that Time Warp US boasted continuously over the holiday weekend dispelled the misconception that techno shows are held exclusively in dark, damp basement-like venues. High quality production values ain’t only for mainstream festivals, techno has got it too people!

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3. In Good Company

 Lying dormant underground for years, like a brood of cicadas, American techno fans rejoiced as Time Warp US gave them the opportunity to resurface to the forefront of electronic dance music for at least the long Thanksgiving weekend. Along with the native techno-heads, fans from around the world flocked state-side to experience the US maiden event, melding into a mass of people who simply knew how to party. Absent of all quintessential new age “rave gear” like woolly boots, rainbow knapsacks, and skimpy clothing, fans were decked out in rather hipster attire, much absent of color. Additionally, since techno was born before the emergence of mobile smartphones, the experience truly revolved around the music. While there were the share of the crowd raising phones in the air, trying to capturing memorable footage (cough.. cough.. Richie), I can safely say the majority of the crowd adhered to the unspoken laws of the techno experience. To put it simply attendees had a clear understanding that, aside from brief breathers here and there, tushes should be on the floor, and minds lost in the music. As a quick aside, it is also worth mentioning that despite the flowing alcohol, there were no violent outbreaks nor were there medical emergencies that required hospitalization. At a time in electronic dance music history where drug abuse and violence at event are almost as commonplace as the music itself, the incident-less Time Warp US only shows the merit of the techno crowd and its culture.

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4. Did someone say techno marathon?

Like I mentioned earlier, people flocked from all reaches of the Earth to throw down so sleep was the last thing on their minds. Seriously though… ain’t nobody got time for that. Fans came with one goal in mind, dance hard and don’t stop and Time Warp US and the slew official after-parties were able to deliver. The simple fact that the festival ended past midnight in an urban area was a definitely a breath of fresh air as well.  There was nothing more special that walking out of that warehouse in the wee hours of the morning, buzzing after a long evening. Or should I say morning? Either way it was undoubtedly a fantastic weekend of techno indeed.

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5. The Dubfire: live Hybrid Revolution

While techno shows are often thought as a low-tech affair, Time Warp US got a pleasant dose of technology with the unveiling of Dubfire’s newest live show experience. The Iranian-born producer stood behind several refracting panels that presented him in a seraphic light, allowing him to trip out the crowd with his unbelievable visual effects whilst melting faces with a masterful display of minimal techno. Although late technical difficulties pulled the plug on the visual effects, the crowd seemed unfazed as they continued to grind away on the floor, entranced in the cacophonic echoes of Dubfire’s sound. When the visual panels sparked back to life, the crowd exploded in applause, immediately making the performance a highlight of the evening.

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6. Quality trumps quantity

You know that awful feeling when a festival slots two of your favorite artists at the same time, on opposite sides of the festival grounds? At Time Warp US, this was not even a remote possibility. Rather than attempting to jam as many techno titans into the two-day festival, Time Warp deftly crafted a line-up that featured some of the techno’s top guns such as Sven Väth, Richie Hawtin, and Joseph Capriati, alongside rising American talents like The Martinez Brothers, Anthony Parasole, and Josh Wink. Such a lineup design gave way to a three hour musical escapade with Papa Sven, while Ali Shirazinia strut his stuff on the smaller, more intimate stage two.

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7. Let’s not forget about why we are here.

We can sit around all day and laud Time Warp US’ understatedly apropos decor and incredible production value, but let’s not beat around the bush, everyone was there for the tunes. Whether it be The Martinez Brothers throwing it back to the early 90s with Robert Armani’s acid house classic ‘Ambulance’ or Dixon sneaking in Roman Flügel’s smash rendition of  ‘Idle Eyes’ just before the crack of dawn, there is no escaping the fact that the music was the dominating factor all weekend. Equipped with a powerful sound system, the quality was surprisingly crystal clear, appeasing the discerning ear of all techno fans. Although the distance between stages was concerning at first, sound bleeding did not prove to be an issue at all, as each stage insulated sound extremely well. I can safely assure that everyone in attendance at Time Warp US got their money’s worth, and left the next morning with a grin from ear to ear, ears still buzzin’.

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Despite experiencing a few fledgling issue with the late venue swap, and a hiccup with the new third-party coat check system, Time Warp US more than compensated with a masterful combination of tasteful decor, nearly flawless design, and even better music. There was no sweeter feeling than walking into a  diverse crowd that just simply knew how to party, and leaving the venue the next morning, friends. The superior production value coupled with top notch clientele made for a fantastic weekend, showing promise for an emergence of techno festival, not only in the New York area, but hopefully across the country. Trust me when I say, Time Warp US is here to stay.