A GIANT 2005
Giant’s 2005 NYE celebration took place in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, next to L.A.’s Historic Central Library, the maddeningly-popular Standard Hotel, and the classy Hyatt Regency. This year’s headliners were: John Digwed, Mark Farina, Paul Oakenfold, The Killers, and The Crystal Method, along with DJ’s Jason Bentley, Desyn Masiello, the Architects of Sound, Omar Kahn, and John Do and Justin Gourley, DJ Sol, The Sugar Ant Invasion, and Mark Tabberner. And this year's beneficiary was the Chrysalis Foundation, a non-profit education and arts organization.
Giant’s 2005 gathering was America’s largest 21+ outdoor NYE celebration, with over 11,800 people spread out amongst 4 city blocks spanning 5 stages and several indoor lounges-- including a VIP lounge with its own private DJ, and open bar. The main event was divided up amongst the three outdoor stages and several crossing points, with lounges, bars, and food booths. Each stage was named after the street it was on, and hosted by a separate entity: Bedrock hosted the Flower stage, KROQ hosted the Grand Stage, and B.P.M. hosted the Hope Stage.
I was utterly amazed at how smooth the night went for us. Last year’s celebration was held inside the Westin Bonaventure, and due to severe over-crowding on the elevators, it was quite a hassle moving from one stage to the next. This year was a massive improvement over last year’s. Although it got very crowded in the center area around midnight, there were no overall problems, and both the security and the guards present behaved intelligently and maintained a sense of humor throughout the night.
Resident Advisor’s reporters this year were myself—Deana Morgan, and Becki Hagstrom. Becki took care of most of the photos, and I took care of most of the review; but due to multiple stages on an extended area, the fact that many DJ’s were on at the same time, and b/c pictures were only allowed during the first 10 minutes of a DJ’s set, you’ll sometimes see us interplay in our roles, with pictures by Deana and words by Becki.
Hopefully where you spent your New Year’s was just as fun as ours. And if you crashed without a story to tell, you can just read ours and pretend you were there. Promise. We won’t tell.
9:30pm - DEANA
My fiancé -- Jason, and I arrive at the Press/VIP check-in. Luckily for us, I’ve worked with a lot of the Giant crew before, and so we walk up to the front of the line, and within 10 minutes, are all sorted with our tickets and entry.
factoid: Most VIP’ers waited for 30+ minutes in the line.
factoid: Most regular ticket holders—at that time of night—waited for over an 1.5 hours.
9:45pm - DEANA
Thanks to a friendly neighbor, we were immediately ushered into the VIP lounge, which was all aglow with costumed revelers dancing in a pink and purple-hazed indoor lounge, complete with a VIP open bar. We took advantage of a few moments of rest (and a few free drinks) before proceeding out to the main event.
factoid: The bathrooms on the premises were all Port a Potties. And by 10pm, even the VIP Port a Pottie was absolutely disgustingly filled. Uck. (!) This was the only real bummer of the night.
10:00pm - DEANA
We check out the event stages. Desyn Masiello is mixing to a growing crowd, and people are checking out the food stands, bars, and the four-screen huge megatron stage in the middle. Off to one side is a Ferris Wheel, full of happy riders, and an antigravity spinning ride, full of people I like to call: crazy-brave-ones-who-have-no-problem-spinning-fastly-and-becoming-naseous.
factoid: I check in Becki, and she’s met up with John Digweed at The Standard hotel, and will be arriving shortly.
10:20pm - DEANA
We hit up the Hope Stage, just in time to catch the end of the Architects of Sound, who were banging it out, funky-style.
10:30pm - DEANA
Jason Bentley hit the decks, starting off the night with a diversified remix of Mark Rae’s “Medicine.” Bentley’s choice of music was fantastic, although his set peaked early on, and kind of flailed for the remainder. Unfortunately, as one dancer put it, “he blew his wad all at the beginning.”
factoid: The Hope Stage was under the coolest tent ever, with a see-through plastic
“ceiling.” and the skyscrapers of downtown visible all around.
(Becki -You could dance there and look at the colored laser light shows playing on the plastic ceiling, which made the ambiance so much more fascinating, not to speak of the people!)
10:30pm - BECKI
Roughly around this time we (Becki, her boyfriend Nigel and Mark, their mate from the U.K.) walk across the street from The Standard to the event. I’m not sure of where to enter; and, I’m feeling a bit stressed because I know there are going to be crowds. Problem for me is that I have to take pictures of Desyn Masiello, and then ‘run’ across the event to the opposite side for the opening of The Killers’ performance. The terrific people at the press tent had given us fast passes so we took a shot at walking up to any entree and managed to walk right in. Thank you so much!
10:40pm - BECKI
I separate from my friends because they want to have fun and I had way to squeeze my way through to Desyn Masiello, at the Flower Stage. The atmosphere closer to the stage was elevated and pumped up, and you could feel the expectancy in the air. It was awesome.
Desyn is one of this year’s most notable ‘up and comers’. His bass rumbling sets in LA and SFO earlier this year were just mad, and NYE was no different.
10:50pm - BECKI
I start making my way towards The Killers at the Grand stage. Like most big events in the beginning of the night, it’s always more sparse around the middle section, and Giant NYE was no different. But as I walked closer to the Killers, it got really dense. They were a clear favorite this year. I made sure all my gear was strapped tight and started to traverse the interstitial spaces between the killer fans. And I say so because there was no love lost for anyone tying to get past. When I was almost at the very front, there was quite simply just no more room and anyone been to a concert knows what this feels like.
11:00pm - DEANA
We (Deana and Jason) meet up with Becki at the Grand Stage, just in time for The Killer’s set. This stage was one of the biggest of the night, raised up, with a huge pit area for press to take photos. Thousands, and we mean THOUSANDS of screaming fans, wave their hands in the air, singing along to The Killers.
Now, here is where we differ in opinion. I (Deana) think that The Killers were fairly average. Kinda like The Strokes, but not nearly as original. To me, they were following the same track as every other punk-emo-wanna-be band. Granted, they had a few hit singles, but even Jason-- who is much more of a rock connoisseur, where I’m the electronic gal -- even he said that they were just “alright.” Their music lacked a lot of originality in terms of beat and performance. They did, however, have fun and ironic lyrics. I’ll give ‘em credit for that. Becki’s perception of them, however, was totally different:
Yes, I totally have a different opinion. It may be tinted by the fact that I am such a house music fan that I didn’t even know about The Killers until a month ago and I just love them. I thought they were really comfortable together and I just loved how they showed their emotion through the music, bodies and their facial expressions. What a fantastic performance! The band had such a good energy and vibe. I was literally blown away.
The bass speakers were so loud. I struggled to stay still for the shots but it was hard not to let loose. The Killers were natural on stage and their message may be slightly similar to some other bands. But I feel it’s like The Killers perfected what the others couldn’t.
factoid: Press could only take photos during the first three songs of The Killers’ set. After that, the security made sure to usher EVERYONE out of the pit except for one Giant employee and her two girlfriends, who enjoyed a semi-private seat, less than 10 feet away from The Killers.
factoid: They had little steps that photographers could temporarily step up on to get a good vantage point for shots. I was pushed down several times by some other killer fan with a camera.
11:45pm - DEANA
The Killers set was over with, and Becki and I needed to split directions, once more. I wanted to get back over to the Hope stage tent, so I could catch Mark Farina’s set. Becki, meanwhile, wanted to catch the fireworks and Oakenfold’s set. And so, we split ways.
11:55pm - DEANA
Crammed in a crowd of anxious people. Couldn’t move. Could barely even breathe. This was the only time of the night where I actually felt that this could get really dangerous. Put tens of thousands of fans together, trying to cross a central point that accessed all three stages. People tried to move in all directions, and the result was one massive squished mob -- I could hardly breathe. Jason and I barely escaped out of there in time to watch the NYE countdown.
Totally exhausted from The Killers set, I meet up with my friends again and we decided to have some fun, so we head towards the Flower Stage, where Digweed’s playing. We stayed on the periphery of the crowd, and danced and talked to some interesting characters. (You always find them in events like this.) Digweed was just getting started and already, he wasn’t stingy with the beats.
At midnight, they started the fireworks, which were cool. I was hoping for more colors and stuff, though. Giant’s NYE 2002 midnight was far better because you had one DJ ramping it up and midnight just exploded in beats, fireworks and glitter. This year, because the area was a bit bigger I didn’t get that climactic feeling I got in 2002. But then again, midnight is just a moment. I got a text message from a friend (Richard) in Thailand who said ‘he bets we are having an awesome time, there people just lit candles’ (understandably). So I also took the moment to reflect and be grateful, and really what does it all matter in the proper perspective? I thought everybody who worked that night did a great job and this whopping NYE party also generated money for charity. After midnight, people randomly wished each other Happy New Year!
12:05am - DEANA
We made it to Mark Farina’s tent. And boy, was he funkin’ it up, breakin’ it down, and givin’ it to ya old-skool, mushroom-jazz-Frisco style. I have to admit my complete surprise at how REMARKABLY GOOD he was. It had been years, really, since I’d had a chance to catch him live, and Farina only gets better and better. He doesn’t necessarily stray too far away from his natural inclination—which is funky house—but he certainly does a great job at reinventing his records while still giving major props to the style that inspires him. Farina kicked some major arse. Props to the man. Serious, serious props.
factoid: A bunch of Farina’s buddies from SF traveled down with him for the gig. Backstage, we met his manager, and a rep from www.nitevibe.com, a San Francisco-based guide to events going on and around the Bay Area.
1:40am - DEANA
Becki and I met back up at the Grand stage, just towards the end of Oakenfold’s set. Oakenfold, now, isn’t the most talented in electronic music by any stretch of the imagination. But he certainly knows how to get a crowd going. Draw your own conclusions, but all I can say is that when he put on CJ Bollan’ds acid-rave classic, “The Prophet,” everyone went nuts. I had to admire the man for being bold enough to play the line, “God’s already here,” while pointing to his decks. That’s quite a statement.
factoid: Oakenfold had more stage groupies than The Killers. For real.
Becki- Oakenfold was pretty cool and had some umph in his set. He was very active onstage, but there was too much smoke. Although it makes for good effects it can make the DJ look like he’s in the open gates of hell. I arrived at his set towards the end and I thought he had a good show going on. His set actually led nicely into the Crystal Method’s. Both went crazy with the smoke machine, though--- The Crystal Method just used a lot of white smoke, whereas Oakenfold used green smoke.
It actually took me while to figure out what was happening because it was so smoky and all I could see was this black shadow jumping around on stage. As I mentioned earlier, the bass speakers were on the bottom right in front of the stage, and The Crystal Method had some crazy reverb (and I mean CRAZY) going on. The sound was almost vibrating me to orgasm, and my camera couldn’t focus that close to the source; which leads me to say that my camera malfunction means that Crystal Method were doing what they do best – break new boundaries in sound production. Wicked!
Factoid: Never heard sounds like that before! Bring it on!
2:30am - DEANA
We made it back to the Flower Stage, for an hour and a half of uninterrupted bliss. John Digweed never ceases to amaze me. He’s kind of like that guy from your biology class. You know, that non-descript guy who just does his thing. And that’s what he’s like on stage. Far removed from the ego of DJ’s like Oakenfold, Digweed lays it on thick and intelligently. Instead of playing the obvious, he strips away all the cheap thrills and presents sound, unadulterated, pure, bare, minimalist, and yet full of deep emotion and truth. I treasure seeing this DJ evolve. In the short amount of time that I’ve laid witness to his L,A. sets, Digweed has consistently kicked some serious arse, and if nothing else, raised the vibration of everyone around him.
factoid: A couple got married during Digweed’s set. (see our photos.) This is absolutely legitimately for real, folks. The story goes that they originally met at a Digweed show. A year later, they went to another Digweed show where the got engaged. They made plans to bring an actual ordained priest to Giant’s 2005 Digweed show and were married in the audience, while Digweed spun.
Becki factoid: Digweed is the king of kicks. The higher frequencies in his kicks are solidly preserved for maximum effect.
And that was our very Giant NYE. Filled with fun, crazy, and absolutely beautiful people, enjoying themselves while ringing in the new year. The wedding during Digweed’s set, however, eclipsed the “oddities” of any other NYE I’ve seen.
All I can say is, love blooms, after all, doesn’t it? Good luck, married couple. May your Year be blissful and peaceful.
And that’s all, folks.
Until next time.
Deana Morgan and Becki Hagstrom.