“There’s, like, two people here. Oh my God, this is hilarious,” my friend, Annie, said in between forced chuckles of disappointment. The two of us were standing in an endearingly short line for an EDM concert outside of Detroit’s Magic Stick Theatre.
We had been anticipating this concert ever since Annie sent me a manic string of texts last semester, exclaiming in all uppercase that one of her favorite EDM artists, BAYNK, was performing in Detroit the first weekend of spring break, and that we “NEED TO GO!!” Though I never really enjoyed EDM music, the idea of checking out a rave-ish scene and visiting Detroit for the first time seemed exciting. So I obeyed Annie’s frenzied text messages and bought a ticket.
Annie spent the few weeks leading up to the big night talking me through her crash-course on EDM/rave culture. She passed on many a disclaimer, preparing me for a colorful concert crowd of rave-junkies decked out in spandex and fishnets mixed in with your classic, more basic-looking EDM connoisseurs. Fashioning herself as a kind of expert on all things EDM, she was quick to warn me that the crowd would be high on drugs of all kinds and we might have to stand our ground should moshing ensue. She was hoping for a packed venue to give me a sufficient first impression of EDM concerts, which have always been one of her greatest loves.
Finally, the night came. We found our way to a street in Midtown Detroit flickering with the neon lights of clubs, theatres and bars, all pulsing with the spirits of intoxicated Michiganders. Annie let out a nervous giggle as we approached the theatre just a few minutes before the doors were supposed to open; there were a mere two people waiting outside.
“BAYNK hasn’t been discovered yet. So only, like, true EDM people will be here tonight,” she assured me as a big guy with lots of tattoos made his way down the line checking people’s IDs. He gifted the small group of concert-attendees in front of us with neon wristbands while Annie and I got big black “X”s marked on our hands with a fat Sharpie.
Soon, the doors opened and we made our way upstairs to the concert venue. We spent the next thirty minutes or so before the show started observing the other hyper-punctual concert-goers.
Those milling about Magic Stick that night were a funny mix — there were couples sipping on canned beers and frat-looking guys in their usual sweatshirt-and-jersey-uniforms and, just as Annie promised, there were the token rave-kids who didn’t seem to catch the memo that BAYNK’s sets are more low-key than other EDM artists. The ravers quickly marked the far right side of the venue as their territory as they unpacked their circus toys and light-up trinkets. Annie, I, and the frat boys all looked on in wonderment as the nearly-naked bunch assembled their own mini-rave in the corner, meticulously wrapping themselves in neon ropes like they were practicing an art form.
“Guess we’ll just stand here and watch them like it’s the show,” Annie said. I couldn’t help but laugh at how this whole night was turning out; it’d probably be another hour or two before BAYNK actually came on and all of Annie’s build-up would come into fruition. Though, for now, we were stuck in a nearly-empty venue, entertaining ourselves by observing the ravers like they were animals in a zoo.
After a couple hours and, luckily, a couple hundred more people joining the puny crowd from the beginning of the night, it was time for BAYNK to come on. The lights lowered in the theatre as a few scraggly-looking crew guys shuffled things around on stage for BAYNK’s arrival. The place carried a mild stench of weed and alcohol as more concert-goers joined Annie and I at the front of the crowd, swaying in intoxicated dance and whispering in slurred excitement around us.
The rag-tag audience of millennial couples, college students and ravers erupted into cheers as some kid hopped onto the stage in a white t-shirt and white sweatpants and made his way to a DJ booth upstage. It was BAYNK.
As he began mixing the electronic beats that made up the opener to his set, I looked over at Annie and caught her gazing at the teenage DJ in awe. He was finally here in front of her, and I was finally here to see it with her. Sure, the neon-lit rave scene that Annie painted for me might not have played out exactly like I’d hoped at Magic Stick that night. And sure, the electronic music might not have been so invigorating, either. But, as Annie stared up at the stage, wide-eyed and completely content with her pseudo-rave surroundings, I soon realized that watching her watch BAYNK would be the best part of the night.