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Electronic Subculture Sweeps Albany: Armory Hosts Foam Party

October 24, 2011

By Chad Gamboa, Kaitlyn Jasnica, Scott Lawson, Kayla Matteo, and Mary Francis Stoute

This Friday, the Washington Avenue Armory will host an event promoted as the “World’s Largest Foam Party,” an electronic music party that is the sixth of its kind for the Armory. Foam Fest will feature both national and local DJs playing mostly electro-house music, a variant of house that is currently popular with students. This change in pace from the kinds of events the Armory usually hosts, such as basketball games and roller derby, follows a new trend in local entertainment. Electronic dance parties have exploded on the Albany college party scene over the past year. Thousands of students are in attendance at each of these parties thrown at the Armory, sometimes paying as much as $100 for a single ticket.

Avicii spinning at the Armory (Courtesy- Don Stone)

“It’s a unique experience because there’s nothing like it,” said William Rowe, a student at Bryant and Stratton and co-founder of Made in Truth and Truth T’s and Apparel, two local t-shirt companies. “The music scene is changing. Before it was people like NSync and Britney Spears. Now it is just about the sound and energy.”

Rowe said that events like the ones hosted at the Armory are becoming so popular because there is nothing else exciting to do in the area. Even high school students are participating.

The events are attracting people of all ages.

The Armory hosted its first electronic music event almost a year ago, on Nov. 6, 2010. Guthrie/Bell Productions brought producer Derek Smith and his drummer Adam Deitch, also known as Pretty Lights, to the Washington Avenue Armory and were met with enthusiasm from both Albany locals and people traveling long distances for the show.
It felt like the beginning of something exciting for 19-year-old Adirondack Community College student and attendee Leslie Boghosian.

“Pretty Lights was a very eye-opening experience to Albany in regards to rave culture,” she said.

State University of New York at Albany senior Jared Goetz and his business partner Dylan Ross, of Highlife Entertainment,  got involved in promotions not long after the success of Pretty Lights. The head of a promotions company based out of Columbus, Ohio, Adam Lynn, invited the two to help his company, Prime Social Group, expand to the northeast.

Steve Aoki at the Armory (Courtesy- Don Stone)

The three saw the Armory as the perfect spot to throw their first event, an electronic party with Steve Aoki, a national headlining disc jockey and producer. The next day, they hosted rapper Lupe Fiasco, also at the Armory and under the direction of Prime Social Group. They profited from Aoki, but only broke even after both shows because of the costs associated with Fiasco, who was paid $120,000.
After hearing about Aoki’s visit, Saratoga local Kip Chapman, known better as DJ Prophet, contacted Prime Social Group and agreed to spin for free at the show. At that point, rapper B. Martin was the only opened lined up.
“You can’t just have a rapper open for Steve Aoki,” he said. Chapman, who had been spinning in the Capital Region for five years saw how the scene was expanding with the popularity of bass-driven music. “It evolved overnight kind of,” he said.

After Aoki, Chapman continued to open each of the following electronic music parties at the Armory, which helped him gain a name for himself outside of Albany, in New York and in Miami.

A sold out event followed a few weeks later when Guthrie/Bell  brought Dj and producer Bassnectar to the Armory on April 23.

After the success of Bassnectar, the people  behind the country-wide Dayglow Tour knew they didn’t need any help promoting their Albany show at the Armory. By simply using the internet and social networking sites like Facebook, Dayglow quickly sold out without any local promoters. Tickets were scalped on their Facebook event page for $100 or more.
The premise of the Dayglow Tour was that it is the world’s largest paint party. Students in all white lined Washington Avenue at 7:30 on the Thursday night of the show, and waited for hours to get into the Armory. Once indoors, they could purchase bottles of paint with which they then splattered each other and threw them into the crowd.

Even though Dayglow was successful, there were problems with merchandise. Some people ordered  VIP packages online when the Dayglow tickets first started selling. The package online cost $75 and included Dayglow tickets, a t-shirt, CD, towel, bag, bracelet, pair of sunglasses, and a free bottle of paint. People who ordered these packages were told to pick them up at the door the night of the event. When many of these people went to pick up their packages, they were told that they had run out.

“We could either write down our name and address and it would get shipped to us, or write

Crowd Shot at Avicii (Courtesy- Don Stone)

down our name and we could pick it up the following day,” said Amanda Anzalone, a freshman psychology major at The College of Saint Rose. Weeks after the event, she said:  “I still have not received my package.”

Many of the people who have not received their packages have tried contacting Dayglow but have had no luck. Anzalone has emailed Dayglow’s main website explaining her situation.

She has also posted on many Dayglow Facebook pages hoping to find answers.  Anzalone has yet to receive a response from anyone in charge at Dayglow.

Another person who has not received the VIP package  is Cory Rosen, a 22-year-old who attended Orange County Community College. Like Anzalone, Rosen was told to write his name down so he could be mailed the extra merchandise.
“I purchased a VIP ticket for a reason,” said Rosen. “It’s like stealing from customers not living up to what they said.”

“I paid $75 as opposed to $42 for the general admission ticket, and the only thing I got out of it was a bottle of paint and express entry,” said Anzalone. “I have not heard back from anyone that runs or is associated with Dayglow.  I wouldn’t waste my money at another one of their events, which is upsetting because they have potential to be amazing shows.”

A few days later, on Monday the 12th, Mass EDMC, a group from Amherst, Massachusetts brought Avicii, another big name disc jockey in electronic music to the Armory.
Mass EDMC was started by Adam Liderman in 2007, when he was a freshman at The University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Growing up in Israel, Adam listened to electronic music his entire life. When he arrived at UMass, he noticed that while its music scene was big, it was lacking an electronic scene. He started throwing house parties where he would have friends spin. Once the parties became too large, they moved them to a local club. Eventually, the parties were too big for the club, and were moved to bigger venues like the Ocean Club in Boston, an outdoor entertainment complex.

Adam Liderman sprays the crowd with confetti (Courtesy- Don Stone)

In his senior year, Liderman ran into Tim Bonito, the owner of NV concepts in Albany. They decided to collaborate, and threw their first party at the Armory. Avicii drew a crowd of 2,400, but was not considered a success. The Armory, which has a 4,300 capacity for an event like this, wasn’t as full as it had been at the most recent sold out shows. Liderman attributed the lackluster attendance to the fact that it was hard to draw people out on a Monday night and that Albany was not the prime market for Avicii.
This didn’t discourage Mass EDMC however, they have another large event in the works.
Deadmau5, one of the biggest names in progressive house, is planning to take the stage with guests LA Riots and The Crystal Method on November 3 at the Armory. Liderman seemed excited with the prospect of Deadmau5, even with his booking costing a whopping $100,000.

“I didn’t lose hope in Albany,” he said.

While drugs still permeate the culture of electronic music, that isn’t what it’s all about all the time, according to Liderman. “It’s more about music than drugs,” he said. “It’s not that there aren’t drugs being done, it’s quite the contrary actually. But that being said, it’s not drug driven anymore.”

He noted that drugs haven’t really been a problem for them, but having been in the scene for so long he knows that people are going to be doing things they shouldn’t. Safety is important to him and that’s why he gives out free water to people in attendance at his events. However, there is another story. Seventeen people were hospitalized at the Dayglow event in Amherst, giving the scene an awful reputation locally.

“Dayglow is an oversized legal frat party,” Liderman said.

The Security Director of the Armory, William O’Brien, said that the amount of security at

Crowd at Avicii (Courtesy- Don Stone)

events depends on the number of tickets sold. Small events could have as few as two security guards while more crowded events could have as many as 20. He and the security guards work on a volunteer basis.

The maximum occupancy permitted at the Armory is 4,400, O’Brien said. There are also two mini-theatres available with maximum occupancy at 1,800 and 1,500.   According to O’Brien, the three bars located at the Armory are considered separate establishments. The alcohol served is provided by Justin’s Restaurant on Lark Street. “They’re responsible for identifying people and handing out wristbands,” said O’Brien.

Underage drinking has not been an issue at the Armory, according to O’Brien. In the event that a person is endangering themselves or others, that person would be escorted out by Armory security and handed over to Albany police.

However, according to Det. James Miller, spokesman for the Albany Police Department,  there have been no issues at the previous electronic music events.

“I checked the history on our computer for Washington Avenue Armory and there were no police calls there for service that night.  So it appears there weren’t any arrests made associated with the event,” said Miller. “Anytime there are large crowds the department will monitor crowds and make sure there is no traffic congestion and that everything is peaceful. I don’t know how large a crowd they had there.  The Armory has their own security so if the crowd was smaller they might have handled it themselves.”

Advertisement for Friday’s Foam Party

The upcoming foam party is the collaboration of five state University of New York at Albany students. The 16+ event already has more than 1,100 people “attending” on Facebook. Tickets are on sale for $22,  the Armory keeps $2 of each ticket sale (in addition to a base fee, which varies with the amount of people in attendance). The Armory will also run six bars at the event and keep all of the profit from drinks. Almost all of the rest of the ticket money goes to expenses like paying the DJs, security guards, police officers, on-site ambulance, glowsticks, a one day insurance policy, and $3,000 worth of carpeting which will all be thrown in the garbage after it becomes water damaged at the event. Expenses also include renting the largest foam machine in existence, which costs about $3,000 for the night.

Just west of the Armory, about 250 feet away, the club Fuzebox is promoting a similar culture. DJ Andrew Franciosa has been throwing his own parties at Fuzebox since last year. He began hosting his own parties after growing tired of going to the same boring parties over and over again. Franciosa joined up with some friends to create their own parties called OUTPOST 1.

OUTPOST 1 takes place every third Friday at Fuzebox where they play different types of music. “We play everything. We try to always bring in headlining DJs that are a style of music people haven’t heard in their entire life,” said Franciosa. OUTPOST 1 has had headliners such as Ballroom, Dubstep, and House.

A lot of planning goes into preparing for these parties. The group works with booking agents to find local artists and DJs in the area and promote the event through Facebook and by posting fliers.

Since Franciosa started OUTPOST 1, he has seen the popularity of these parties grow in the community. “People love it. They’ve grown for sure but we’re still trying to figure out what makes the turnout fluctuate ever so slightly. Every event has hit the club’s capacity, even over the summer when school was out,” said Franciosa.

He will be DJing this Friday at Fuzebox for OUTPOST 1 Halloween edition and, will also

DJ Ryan Looney at Outpost1 (Courtesy- Adella Finnan)

be opening “Foam Fest.” His parties are usually free for the first hour and then cost $5 after.

“It’s all about coming to OUTPOST 1 and staying to enjoy all the music that we’ve planned for everyone. It’s truly about the music,” said Franciosa.

As for the scene sticking around, Greg Bell of Guthrie/Bell Productions isn’t so sure that it will, he pointed to the frequently changing musical interests of young people. “Kids that 10 years ago would have wanted jam bands, want electronic music now,” he said. “Right now electronic music is popular, but two years from now it might be something different.”-30-


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