All photos courtesy of Zouk
DJs are the new rock stars. There was no doubt about it, judging from the way crowds came in droves to see favourites and rave until sunrise at the 13th edition of ZoukOut this year.
Dance club Zouk is famous for its revolving-door lineup of big-name DJs. But ZoukOut at Siloso Beach is the biggest event on its calendar, with some of the biggest names in dance and electronic music headlining the festival.
A record-breaking 41,000 people attended the dance fest on 13 and 14 December at Sentosa in Singapore, bopping to Afrojack, one of the biggest electronic dance music DJs in the world, dubstep producer 12th Planet, and Pacha-resident DJ Solomun. The lineup reflected both mainstream DJs and niche performers for discerning partygoers.
BIG MAINSTREAM NAMES
This was the second year running that ZoukOut was held over two days instead of one. Most of the action was centred around the main Moon stage. Predictably, day one was a comparatively quieter affair, even though there were about 15,000 people there. The biggest draws of the night were Dutch DJ Afrojack, Australian twins Nervo, Chicago-based trio Krewella and trance music royalty Ferry Corsten.
Day two saw up-and-comers who have had a massive year in the electronic dance music scene.
It was a testing back-to-back five hours for partygoers as the crowd burgeoned to about 20,000, while Danny Avila, Zedd, Martin Solveig and Alesso played high-energy sets one after another. There was barely space to breathe among the mass of sweaty bodies illuminated by fluorescent lights.
Young Spaniard Danny Avila kept the crowd pumped up with his high-energy set
Wunderkind Danny Avila, called “the Spanish super talent” by juggernaut DJ Tiesto, delivered a high-energy set, complete with jumps and kicks befitting of an 18-year-old.
Radio-favourite Zedd, who has had mainstream crossover success in 2013, had the crowd pumped up when he dropped the immediately recognisable ‘Clarity’ and ‘Stay the night’.
French electro-house DJ Solveig delivered an upbeat set that was not confined to genres. He played everything from 'Bingo Players' to 'M.I.A', bookending his set with his own hit, ‘Hey Now’.
Swedish DJ Alesso had a moment to take it all in during his 90-minute-long set
As the poster child for sell-out DJ gigs, Swedish DJ Alesso’s setlist was filled with crowd pleasers such as ‘Calling (Lose my mind)’, which still sounded fresh and got the crowd roaring even though it has been played to death on radio.
But it was the first-string DJs, Ferry Corsten and Dash Berlin, who took the highly-coveted sunrise sets on Friday and Saturday. Even though the crowd had dwindled by then, the ones who stayed on for the headliner sets were as bositerous and energetic as they were earlier in the night.
Returning for his second ZoukOut after 2006, it was business as usual for Corsten, with high quality dance music that always impresses.
Then Jeffrey Sutorius, the man known as Dash Berlin, emerged, forming a lone silhouette against the massive LED screens behind him, holding up his iPad with a scrolling message that said "hello" to Singapore. It has become his trademark move during shows.
Dash Berlin with his trademark iPad greeting to the crowd
NICHE DJ ACTS
Over on the smaller Star stage, it was a genre-bending mix of DJs, with dubstep by Benga (without partner Skream) delivering UK grime, and deep electronica by the eccentric Seth Troxler. British rapper Example also performed alongside his longstanding collaborator DJ Wire for a set filled with his own hits such as 'We'll Be Coming Back' and 'Watch the Sun Come Up'.
There was ample representation from Singapore, as the likes of Marco Weibel, Maurice Simon and GEMA held court at the intimate Localized Tent, providing respite from the overcrowded stagefronts and the sets by mainstream DJs that all seemed to blend into one another after a while. More than just a sideshow, the tent proved to be a strong draw with emerging talents and first-time acts such as A/K/A and William J holding their own.
ZOUKOUT GOES CASHLESS
For those rehydrating themselves or getting more drinks and food, ZoukOut finally allowed partygoers to use EZ-link cards for payment. It was a welcome change from previous years, where finding an ATM or losing cash was a hassle. The many top-up stations at the festival made it a convenient affair.
Alesso and Zedd join Dash Berlin on stage towards the end of his set
Towards the end, even the DJs stayed back to watch others in the lineup, joining them on stage during their go on the decks. The music transcended nationality or language, judging by the way revellers and artistes came together at this love fest for dance music lovers.
You can’t help feeling that ZoukOut 2014 will be even bigger.