By Jennifer Kinderman
El Paso, Texas – Nearly 50,000 fans came thru the Ascarate Park turnstiles this past Sept. 2-3 for Sun City Music Festival. The 7th-annual event, produced in El Paso by SMG Events and Disco Donnie Presents, offered 40 DJs and live performers. They included headliners like Above & Beyond, special guests like Sasha & Digweed, young faves like REZZ, and America’s Best DJ nominees Marshmello, Seven Lions, Herobust and NGHTMRE.
DJ Times was at the park both days, taking notes – and there were plenty big moments to remember. Here are our highlights from SCMF:
The Headliners: Two of the largest crowd-pulling electronic acts closed each night and brought the heat to El Paso with stellar performances that were punctuated by impressive fireworks displays. On Saturday night, the anonymous, white-helmeted Marshmello and his “Mellogang” raged until closing time. A notable moment came when ’Mello dropped his new single, “Silence,” and El Paso’s own hitmaker Khalid graced the stage and sang for his home city – for those of us from Chuco Town, that nightcapper was hard to top.
On Sunday night, Above & Beyond was up to the task, as the U.K.-based group drew its typically enthusiastic crowd of worshippers. Of course, its set of melodic, melancholic, trance-tinged vocal tunes connected in a big way, as A&B brought the faves like “Blue Sky Action” and more. Though the group performed without Tony McGuinness—it was just Jono Grant and Paavo Siljamäki—it nonetheless pushed the buttons of its loyal fans, who certainly got a stellar closing session of “Group Therapy.”
Other highlights… Bonnie X Clyde: The talented EDM DJ/producers made their first appearance in El Paso, and did not disappoint. The crowd sang along to favorite tunes like “Bass Jam” and “Rise Above,” and it grooved to the duo’s mélange of flavors – electro-pop one moment, dubstep the next, and then a taste of trance. Stay tuned for more hits from this act.
Sasha & John Digweed: The legendary U.K. duo really brought it to the Beatport Stage for its three-hour set of progressive-house and deep beats. It was the festival’s longest performance and, accentuated by a wonderfully colorful light show, turned out to be a rare treat for El Paso dance fans.
NGHTMRE: The youthful DJ/producer made his return to SCMF, this time landing a spot on its mainstage. It’s no wonder why he did because, if you’re a fan of trap, dubstep and hip-hop, he’s the man to see. When he dropped “Need You” (his single with Dillon Francis) and “Gud Vibrations” (his cut with Slander), things definitely went off.
Don Diablo: Make no mistake… when this Dutch DJ/producer plays a festival, he’ll have you bumping and jumping with his fun, energetic sets. At SCMF, he had the crowd singing along to cuts like his remix of Bastille’s “Good Grief” and marveling at the visuals and stage dancers. In the words of Don Diablo, “House time is anytime and anytime is house.” Oh, yeah.