News Column

Sun City Music Fest brings in big guns for its 3rd year

August 30, 2013

YellowBrix

Aug. 30--If the third time's the charm, then the promoters of this weekend's third Sun City Music Festival hope they're in luck.

They're expecting up to 30,000 people for the three-stage electronic music blowout starting at 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Ascarate Park.

That would be about 5,000 more than last year's Labor Day Weekend rave up at the 400-acre county park, where it moved after drawing a first-year crowd of 15,000 people at Cohen Stadium in 2011.

Organizers believe this year's festival will benefit from its growing reputation in the electronic dance music world, a diverse lineup, and one big ace in the hole -- Tiesto.

The massively popular Dutch DJ's last El Paso appearance -- a five-hour affair on May 6, 2011, at Cohen -- sold nearly 10,000 tickets and provided what local promoter Adam Lucero said then was "the spark" for the festival's creation.

Lucero and his partners at North Carolina's Disco Donnie Presents believe Tiesto's presence on this weekend's bill -- with other local favorites Armin Van Buuren, who headlined the festival's first

year, and Steve Aoki among its more than 40 acts -- has fired up ticket sales.

Tiesto "was long overdue for a return," Lucero said. "It's been well over two years since he's been in the market, so (his return) kind of went hand in hand with the festival."

Tiesto, 44, is one of electronic dance music's most successful DJs, artists, producers and remixers. He has grossed $32 million over the past year, according to Forbes magazine, good for second on its recent list of top money-?making DJs. He topped that list the previous year.

He's also a big draw in the El Paso area, selling more than 6,000 tickets to a 2009 show at Cohen and selling out the former Club 69 in 2008 and Juarez's Morocco's nightclub in 2007.

"The crowds in El Paso are really unique due to the geographic location, and the crowd response is always amazing," the Dutch DJ said in an email interview.

"I'll look forward to pushing things to the next level and partying hard with the fans at your great festival."

Tiesto and Swedish DJ Alesso headline Sunday. Fellow Dutchman Van Buuren and Steve Aoki top Saturday's bill.

They're among more than 40 acts from around the world, and the area, scheduled to perform this weekend.

Tiesto, Alesso, Van Buuren and Aoki will play the main stage -- the Sun City Stage, a laser-shooting, pyrotechnic-spewing creation shaped like a pyramid.

The Bass Dunes and Beatsport stages will offer a mix of veterans (such as English DJ John Digweed), emerging stars ("Harlem Shake" hitmaker Baauer and buzzed-about L.A. DJ Deorro), and newer faces (Seven Lions, Le Castle Vania, Eats Everything and Austin's Andrew Parsons).

They represent a variety of EDM styles, from progressive house and trance to bass-heavy dubstep and hip-hop-rooted trap.

"It's definitely the most diverse lineup we've had yet," Lucero said.

Striking the balance between bigger, more expensive names and lesser known acts is important to SCMF's future, said Lucero, a 15-year veteran of the El Paso-Juarez scene.

"The wonderful thing about doing this festival is it allows us to grow artists. You never know, we might have the next Deadmau5 from 5 to 6 (p.m.) on the Bass Dunes stage," he said.

The first festival in 2011 was produced with Los Angeles' Insomniac Productions. Disco Donnie Presents took over last year, when Sun City Music Festival moved to the more spacious, 448-acre Ascarate Park, in an area where Western Playland once stood.

It's "a nice park with a lot of potential," Lucero said. He said the main stage will be bigger this year, with more, and larger, video panels.

Performers dressed as insects again will circulate amongst the crowd, but EDM staples such as glowsticks and LED gloves are banned because of their association with "drug paraphernalia," organizers said on Twitter.

Also new: Online music store Beatport, which is running a remix contest with Tiesto, has become the festival's highest-profile sponsor, putting its name on the former Electric Cactus Stage.

Securing more big sponsors is a goal. So is attracting more out-of-town visitors. Five hotels are offering special rates this year. The Wyndham El Paso Airport has "only a few reservations" so far, according to sales director Debbie Lowrance, adding that could pick up by the weekend.

The festival is still in its infancy, Lucero said, but he believes things like the Beatport sponsorship, a growing social media presence (50,000 Facebook and 25,000 Twitter followers) and raves from EDM bloggers will help it grow.

"It's awesome that people are noticing what we're doing," he said. "We're able to put our city, and where we're located, in a positive light."

Doug Pullen may be reached at 546-6397.

What: Sun City Music Festival, with Tiesto, Steve Aoki, Armin Van Buuren, Alesso and others on three stages.

When: 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Where: Ascarate Park, 6900 Delta.

How much: General admission passes cost $80 for one day, $140 for both days. VIP passes are sold out. Passes are on sale at Happy House, the Headstand, eventbrite.com and suncitymusicfestival.com. Prices are subject to change.

Parking: $1 per car.

Information and policies: Ascarate Park, 772-5605; suncitymusicfestival.com.

Schedule

Saturday

Sun City Stage

-- 5 p.m.: DJ Technick

-- 6:15 p.m.: Regional DJs

-- 7:30 p.m.: Deorro

-- 8:30 p.m.: Deniz Koyu

-- 9:30 p.m.: Adventure Club

-- 10:30 p.m.: Markus Schulz

-- 11:30 p.m.: Steve Aoki

-- 12:30 a.m.: Armin Van Buuren

Bass Dunes Stage

-- 5 p.m.: Regional DJs

-- 7:30 p.m.: Ookay

-- 8:30 p.m.: Kill Paris

-- 9:30 p.m.: Candyland

-- 10:30 p.m.: GTA

-- 11:30 p.m.: Crizzly

-- 12:30 a.m.: Borgore

Beatport Stage

-- 5 p.m.: Regional DJs

-- 7:30 p.m.: Michel De Hey

-- 8:45 p.m.: Scuba

-- 10 p.m.: Stefano Noferini

-- 11:15 p.m.: Sebastien Leger

-- 12:30 a.m.: Popof

-- Sunday

Sun City Stage

-- 5 p.m.: Regional DJs

-- 6:30 p.m.: Andrew Parsons

-- 7:30 p.m.: Seven Lions

-- 8:30 p.m.: TJR

-- 9:30 p.m.: Danny Avila

-- 10:30 p.m.: Dmitri Vegas & Like Mike

-- 11:30 p.m.: Alesso

-- 12:30 a.m.: Tiesto

Bass Dunes Stage

-- 5 p.m.: regional DJs

-- 7:30 p.m.: Just Blaze

-- 8:30 p.m.: Le Castle Vania

-- 9:30 p.m.: Zomboy

-- 10:30 p.m.: Flosstradamus

-- 11:30 p.m.: Baauer

-- 12:45 a.m.: Dillon Francis

Beatport Stage

-- 5 p.m.: Regional DJs

-- 7 p.m.: French Fries

-- 8 p.m.: Droog

-- 9 p.m.: Cassy

-- 10 p.m.: Eats Everything

-- 11 p.m.: Brodinski and Gesaffelstein

-- 12:45 a.m.: John Digweed

___

(c)2013 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)

Visit the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas) at www.elpasotimes.com

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