Because everything in life is binary (and don't let anyone tell you differently), all of music can be classified into two schools: there is EDM, and there is non-EDM. Yes, as everyone knows, you can only listen to one kind of music and must avoid contact with othergenreloving heathens like they're Anthrax in a bowling alley in Florida.
But, look––a festival has (by some administrative error, surely) inspired audiophiles of the mutually exclusive faiths to commingle within a single woodsy parameter this past weekend. San Francisco's Outside Lands Music Festival, an annual gathering of old rock geezers and indie pop pundits, interjected this year's lineup with a handful of DJs including Axwell & Ingrosso, ODESZA, Classixx, and the Bay's own Giraffage.
Past years' lineups have included other big ticket dance acts like Tiesto, A-Trak, and Skrillex. But for every Porter Robinson, there was an equal and opposite Elton John, Black Keys, and Mermferd end Serns. The makeup was give or take 80 percent Ranger Dave, 20 percent Ranger Rave.
We set out to pick the brains of the ride-or-die EDM satellite tribes of OSL. Who are these brave souls, so committed to the beat that they risk commingling with the swaths of Momfred and Snus enthusiasts?
Armed with the highly scientific methodology of identifying EDM fans through visual signifiers like neon clothing and just feeling out a vibe, we tracked down six THUMPable festival goers who schooled us on the admirable character of lingering DJs, politically-charged pooping, and that mayyyybe the line between electronic and not-tronic culture isn't quite so cut and dry.
*In my best Law & Order: SVU voice* These are their stories:
What's your type of music?
I like everything! It's more what I don't like – pop, country, and polka are things that I kind of shy away from. But anything else, I love electronic music. I love me a good fucking dance party.
Do you think that SF is PLUR?
I think we're lucky to have a very lucky to have a progressive community in the Bay Area, but no. San Francisco is gritty and dirty and fucking mean to people just like everywhere else is. It really is, people shit on the sidewalks here. There are people that feel really upset and disenfranchised and don't give a shit to the point where they'll crap on the sidewalk and that's a huge disconnect.
What's your favorite aspect of electronic culture?
The openness and creativity. Every time I going to an electronic show all the people there have a smile on their face usually. It's rare that you go to a show and people aren't engaging and willing to give you a chance to be their friend, like, right off the bat. A lot of social settings, you almost gotta break the fucking door down just to get people to talk to you it seems like.
What do you say to people who are really not into electronic music?
Dude, you gotta wax the boogie broom, you gotta open up your heart and get in there, you'll love it.
EDMometer (our totally subjective ranking system): 7/10
Colete, Emily, Maddie
What's your impression of electronic music culture overall?
C: It's silly. I feel like it doesn't take a lot of talent to create…Is that bold?
M: I think Robert Delong is really talented, like watching him yesterday was the most incredible thing I've ever seen.
Tell us about it.
M: I mean his setup is really interesting. He rewired a bunch of old XBox controllers to work with his set and then he has a synth and everything. Definitely not something I listen to in my free time but I'm always surprised. This is my fifth year at OSL and I always end up at a few electronic shows and I'm always like, "I'm enjoying myself," but there a few things that I'm uncomfortable with.
M: Just, in my experience, I've seen a lot of bros with their younger girls that they probably met here. It doesn't necessarily feel like a safe environment.
E: Like, seeing Kaskade a few years ago I was like, no. I don't feel connected to this. So I really appreciate when an artist just in general can do that.
What do you think of people who come to a festival like OSL to see the electronic acts?
M: I respect that a lot. Because I come here to see the garage rock because I'm into that, so I'm definitely closedminded about what sets I see. What bothers me is when people just come here to get fucked up. My general issue is that a lot of people come to see capital E electronic music and get fucked up and get mad at people.
Is San Francisco PLUR?
M: I think the lack of all ages venues makes it not inclusive in that way. It's not as accessible and the raves that are all ages are… sketchy, haha.
What's the difference seeing electronic music at a festival like Outside Lands rather than a rave?
You get a mesh of everyone here. If you go to an EDM festival there everyone's there to rage, they've got their kandi on. I like this cause there are people here for Elton John who don't know what EDM is and they're raging out like "I like this!"
What do you think is most misunderstood about electronic music culture?
I think people see all the crazy fans and girls who dress up and take all the kandi and molly and they all get lumped together. I think there's a lot of people like who who just really love music. I like rock, I like EDM, I like Elton John. When I say I'm going to an EDM concert they're like "Oh, you're going to do all the drugs." No, I'm just going to have a good time. At the end of the day it's just music, man. And that's why OSL is great.
Lizzy & Stephanie
How do you feel about electronic music?
S:It's what I do when I can get a break from regular life. You just wanna go out there and just let go of everything that's happening at the moment.
L: It makes you feel like you can dance and be yourself. You forget yourself in the music.
What do you think about seeing electronic music at a festival like Outside Lands?
L:There's so many people here, you connect you make new friends. You're like "I love this song," and you see someone else who's like "I love this song too!" It's like, Yes! You connect. I prefer festivals over concerts because you get to see so many bands and meet new people all the day.
What other genres do you listen to?
L: I like metal, death metal, I like opera, deep house, I like everything! I have a wide selection.
S: I'm a hippie with a punk side.
Are you guys PLUR?
L: Not anymore. I did when I was younger but I haven't been in the rave scene in a long time and I feel like the festivals are a little different. The vibe is a lot more relaxed. It's not like everyone is after one another's items or one another's drugs cause that's what everyone thinks they come here for. But, no, you come here for the music, you don't come here for drugs. If you wanna do that that's on your own.
What's different about the electronic music scene in SF versus LA where you're from?
L: No one's on defense. Like, LA we're all like "back up," cause we're all tense like, we don't know you.
S: Everyone here is just like hello you're beautiful, like, let's talk. I: Yeah, like what's your name, what's your story, lets hang out!
Reese & Jordan
How do you feel about seeing electronic music at a festival as opposed to a club or a rave?
R: It's just the atmosphere. Everybody is so nice and we all like the same things, so it's just a sense of family.
J: I've been to other music festivals and at this one a lot of people are from the Bay so there's a "We're home" feeling, even though we're all from different places in the world. Which is really cool.
What is the most misunderstood thing about electronic music culture?
J: That everyone does drugs…
R: And alcohol and people are drunk everywhere. It's not really that big, we kind of just think it's like everybody's family. Even when we're in crowds and everyone's pushing each other, everyone is still laughing.
What do you think of the culture around electronic music?
It's fine, I don't know. I've definitely been to raves.
Did you go to raves in the 90s?
I guess the first thing I did that was kind of ravish was more like generator parties in the desert in the early '90s.
If you could rave with any of the artists here who would it be?
Oh man, I don't know I'm getting old. I don't want to do drugs anymore.
What do you think an electronic music fan looks like, how would you spot one?
I don't know, uh, furry outfit and nice boots?
Burt & Justin (Disco Bunny)
Did you guys come here to rave?
B: It's not a rave, it's a rock and roll concert.
J: The music is whatever. I buy my ticket before I see the lineup. I just like likeminded people.
What do you think of the people who come here to see dance music?
B: I mean, that's cool, that's their but this isn't the place to do it.
J: Yeah, last year Duck Sauce was playing on Twin Peaks and people just weren't into it.
Is Elton John EDM?
Is Elton John PLUR?
J:Elton John is pretty PLUR. PLUR goes beyond the EDM scene, you can PLUR anywhere you go.
B: He's all about love.
What do you think of seeing electronic acts at a festival like Outside Lands?
It's different, but the same people are there. It's not like Monster Massive or anything like that but, even from here to Coachella it's different.
Are there any advantages to being here?
You're in San Francisco. You're in a gigantic park. It's pretty fucking awesome. I would say that being here is more comfortable and natural. Unlike Coachella where it's just desert, hot, carnival-like. This is more, like, festival.
What is the most misunderstood thing about EDM?
Just 'cause everyone's on drugs doesn't mean that they're fucked up. You'll find the nicest, happiest people at raves and EDM shows. They may seem fucked up but they're just having a fucking awesome time. There's a lot more peace and love, PLUR.
What does PLUR mean to you?
PLUR is a personal connection that you make to someone when you share a piece of yourself with them, and it happens in masses. I used to be a kandi kid so I used to have sleeves of kandi and it was just peace, love, respect.