Dance dance revolution
An oral history of how the Chemical Brothers, all-night raves, and a massive club scene made Orlando's EDM scene legendary
Published: July 3, 2013
DJ SANDY: Orlando was massive … who would have ever known? London, New York … those were the spots. Then O-town shows up.
The Dust Brothers at the Edge
CLIFF T: DJ Icey booked them at the Edge.
CANNALTE: All the shows at the Edge were impactful back then: To his credit, Icey did an awesome job of bringing people to Orlando that had made their mark – musically – here.
DJ ICEY: The Dust Brothers’ first single, “Song to the Siren,” was a huge staple for me as a DJ and most other DJs in Orlando. I actually called the number on their white label record, and Tom Rowlands answered the phone (to my surprise!). I told him we were interested in flying them in to do a show in Orlando. We provided them with five days hotel (Travelodge), two meals a day, and we arranged Disney visits.
The day of the event, we had a proper sound check set up, and we discovered they did not bring power converters but brought loads of equipment. We called Radio Shack five minutes before they were due to close, and luckily, the two guys that were working were coming to the show that night and agreed to stay open until we got there to buy seven power converters for their equipment.
DJ SANDY: They came in unlike any other electronic group ... playing massive! Little did we know what kind of superband they would become ... bow down, Skrillex and David Guetta.
DJ ICEY: The Brothers were playing a very live show and had an extensive stage setup of analog gear. We had them set up on the stage in the Shed in the back of the Edge (we could put 1,000 people back there and another 500 outside to stage left). Almost all of the DJs who were booked for that event were in the Shed to see the show, and it was a mind-bending, spine-tingling, absolutely ridiculous performance. I was standing on the side of the stage with Bruce Wilcox, who DJ’ed for us at the Edge Ft. Lauderdale, and after the first song, we looked at each other and realized we were witnessing something very special.
DJ SANDY: It was one of those nights where the vibe was perfect … so were the drugs.
WOHELSKI: It showed that with the right talent and the right promotion, the scene would come together for a big party, and it made promoters step up their game to deliver an even bigger, better, larger experience. What it did internationally and nationally was solidify the Orlando and Central Florida scenes as a hotbed of electronic dance music in America. What the band thought was a promoter’s whim turned into 5,000 kids going bonkers to the soon-to-be Chemical Brothers’ first U.S. show. From there, word filtered back to the U.K. press that there was something special going on here in Central Florida and in the U.S.
FORTIER: At the time, and probably for years later, it is and was just another show. When they came, they were just guys from Manchester who had made a bunch of tracks that were big in our clubs here. They weren’t the superstars they would eventually become many years later as the Chemical Brothers. Before this particular show, we’d already had Sasha and John Digweed at AAHZ. At Marz, we had a lot of other bands like the Chems with a very similar sound, as well as future local stars Rabbit in the Moon. And Brassy’s had Moby and a little band called Cybersonic that included a young Richie Hawtin. I think what we can look back on now about all this, including the Chemical Brothers gig was that we, as a scene, were really on it, forward-thinking and a leading light in the electronic scene.
> Email Jason Ferguson and Bao Le-Huu