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Here’s What Happens When EDM DJs Try to Win Cred By Spinning Vinyl

Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, outed as using ghost producers and pressing play, attempted redemption with an “100% Oldskool Vinyl” set during an arena show.
January 22, 2016, 9:05pm

In case you didn't know them, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike are two Belgian DJs who were called out for cheating their way to the #1 spot in DJ Mag's Top 100 DJs list last year, and using ghost producers to churn out their hits. Although the irony of their high-ranking despite their relative obscurity has not been lost on us, they still have been responsible for producing every official Tomorrowland anthem since 2010. They've also scored two no.1 hits in their home country, "The Hum" (feat Ummet Ozcan) and "Higher Place" (featuring Ne-Yo).

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EDM duo Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike recently attempted to prove their authenticity with a rather bizarre tactic: playing an 11-minute, so-called "100% Oldskool Vinyl" set during a sold-out arena show in their home country of Belgium.

It all went down on December 17-19, 2015 during a three-night, sold-out event called "Bringing The Madness 3.0" at the 23,000-capacity Sportpaleis Arena in Antwerp, which also featured special surprise guests like Ne-Yo, Afrojack, and Armin Van Buuren (new supergroup?). The duo's 2-and-a-half-hour performance—which currently has over a million views on YouTube—was mostly comprised of predictable pop and EDM anthems, including both of their #1 Belgian hits "The Hum" and "Higher Place," plus edits of Kanye West, Drake, Bieber, and, inevitably, an acapella of "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

However, around the one hour mark, the guys threw their CDJs to the side and replaced them with three turntables. Actually, it looks like Dimitri Vegas was the only one actually spinning vinyl; amidst the sold-out arena of fist-pumping fans and a swirling array of massive LEDs, he swiftly let loose on a number of classic 90s Euro rave anthems that decades ago soundtracked similar debauchery, like Ixxel's 1998 jump anthem "Drop That Beat," Dem Rats' 1996 hardstyle belter "Now This," and Marc Acardipane's ferocious "Hell-E-Copter"—occasionally pausing to partake in the classic DJ pose. Meanwhile, his counterpart, Like Mike, jumped around in this théâtre de l'absurde, snapping selfies with crazed fans, clapping his hands, and pouring vodka down their rabid gullets in a manner more commonly associated with VIP club antics.

What does it mean when two DJs who embody everything wrong with mainstream dance music culture—who've achieved a level of fame through marketing ploys and pay-to-play schemes instead of hard work and talent—resort to spinning vinyl in an attempt at gaining some credibility? DJ Mag has suggested the gimmick might be "an antidote to the accusations of 'pressing play' that EDM artists often get subjected to."

But we suspect the ploy goes further—after all, the YouTube video of their performance is presented by Tomorrowland, the same festival where, in July 2014, the DJs' team allegedly paid women to roam around with iPads, asking attendees if they wanted to vote in the DJ Mag poll. Everyone who agreed was then presented with a page where they were required to vote for Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike. With this in mind, there's a good chance this all-vinyl set was just another "clever" marketing ploy cooked up by the DJ duo.

On a larger scale, perhaps big-room EDM and vinyl culture have coalesced into a terrifyingly mutant beast, with the art of spinning wax subsumed into wrenching, in-your-face spectacle. As we explored in our recent piece on the vinyl boom, record collecting has reached a whole new level of mainstream acceptance, as everyone from Urban Outfitters to Amazon cashes in on the medium's "cool factor." If Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike's recent stunt is anything to go by, what was once regarded as a symbol of legitimacy and agency is becoming another shade in the blinding lights of commercial dance music.

Does anyone have a Xanax?