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Review: Gravity Thailand Presents Arcadia - The Bangkok Takeover

The Spider landed in Bangkok's city center for one flaming hot night

  • Fred Tilzey
  • 2 February 2016
Review: Gravity Thailand Presents Arcadia - The Bangkok Takeover

Photos courtesy of ActionVIP

Bangkok is a city long synonymous with partying, from Khao San Road which is packed with fresh faced gap year students burning through their parents money before kicking off university studies back home in September and aging travelers still chasing the hippy trail dream to the jam-packed Patpong night market with its buzzing atmosphere and lively street bars offering every taste imaginable. However there is a space to be filled when it comes to the city’s large-scale outdoor electronic music events. During the festival season throughout Europe and the US it’s hard to find a weekend which doesn’t have a much lauded line up featuring the very best international DJs and next level production efforts, but it’s clear that in Asia not only is there a gap in the market for parties like these but there is in fact a huge demand from the young people that live there.

Returning to Thailand for the second year in a row, the excitement generated by the Arcadia event amongst the young crowd was palpable immediately upon entering the venue. Moving into the city center from last year’s considerably far venue, Lumpini Square is located in the more modern central east section of the city and is a wide plaza that makes up part of the grand Lumphini Park, which is used day to day as a tranquil public space to escape the heat of the city. However Saturday the 23rd of January saw the tranquility interrupted for one evening, and the source of the palpable excitement was evident once we had cleared security and entered the Gravity arena, as there before us stood the imposing, hulking metal anatomic structure that is the Arcadia spider. If you haven’t witnessed Arcadia in action before, then it is truly a breathtaking spectacle. The moving, fire-spitting parts work together in perfect harmony with an awe inspiring light and visual show projected from and onto the spider.

So with incredible staging ready to go it was time for the music and the first tier headliners didn’t hold back. With EDM artists, it always seems as if every DJ tries to top the next and regardless of whether they are opening, closing or warming up for the headliner, they go in full speed from the very beginning. DJ Bl3nd’s set was the perfect example, non-stop from start to finish we heard samples taken from the likes of Linkin Park through to Europe’s The Final Countdown all spun in at breakneck speed over white noise build ups and vicious drops which sent the crowd wild. EDM bangers like Hardwell’s Sally were also lapped up just as readily by the big hit hungry crowd.

Must Die took things into a more American dubstep direction, with big bass and thundering kicks punctuated with fireballs spitting from the Arcadia spider which turned the already scorching hot area up a few more notches. While some of the crowd sitting in the table serviced VIP section looked a little perplexed, the majority were head banging away to their hearts content as the arena neared capacity. Ending on his latest release, a remix of Flux Pavilion’s Emotional, it sent arms upwards once more as square wave synths buzzed angrily when the track reached its climax. Zomboy’s set was much the same fair, an American take on dubstep, which perfectly fit the surroundings and was in tune with what the crowd was looking for. The highlights of his set was the brand new exclusive he premiered at Gravity Thailand as his final track, all rolling steel toms and big trancy vocals lit up the arena and prepared the crowd for the headliners.

DVBBS rolled out the tried and tested big room dynamics of DJ and MC combos, made popular in the EDM scene by artists like Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike. Getting the crowd’s energy pumped even higher on what was already a hot and humid evening, exacerbated by Arcadia’s fire breathing antics, was impressive and owed much to the MCs repeated chanting: “Put your middle finger up.” Edits of huge pop tracks like O.T. Genasis’s CoCO were spliced with more standard fare EDM fodder before rounding up with their most famous track and known dance floor destroyer Tsunami. Kaskade, the joint headliner, had a difficult job in following such high energy, non-stop assaults on the senses. However the sign of a good DJ is rolling with the situation that is present to you, so although playing a more melodic and thoughtful sound he was able to match the tempo set by the earlier DJs and deliver a enjoyable yet more trancy affair. But for the majority of the crowd, the sudden turn down in energy left many unsure as to how to move and it took a number of tracks for Kaskade to have them back in his palm once again.

And like that Gravity was over, the biggest winner of the night was the festival itself, as the Arcadia staging, the set up of the event and the spectacle itself was perfectly arranged to wow an almost entirely Thai crowd. Musically it was also on point for what the crowd was looking for and as it was spread over only one evening, the artists packed as much as they could into the seven hours they had available. But you have to wonder, or hope, if as the scene matures in Thailand the musical direction will change over the coming years to better reflect the more mature sensibility of house music. What was significant to note was the excitability felt by everyone in the crowd as they poured out of the exits and if one thing is for sure it’s that the Gravity Festival experience and the Arcadia Spider landing in Bangkok won’t be forgotten by anyone for a very long time.

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