On Halloween, Kaskade wrapped up a five-night run of drive-in performances at the City National Grove of Anaheim in Southern California. The six sold out shows were co-promoted by Versa Entertainment and Nederlander Concerts, the latter of which has taken advantage of the ample parking lot located next to Angels Stadium.
Since the pandemic halted regular concert-going across the U.S. in mid-March, Nederlander Concerts has pivoted to hosting a regular drive-in series called Drive-In OC. Launching with multiple sold-out performances from Andrew McMahon in July, Nederlander has hosted 50 drive-in shows that have grossed more than $2 million. Kaskade’s mini-residency will be followed up by at least seven more performances this year.
Over five days in October, Kaskade performed six sets, including a special Halloween matinee set for first responders. The electronic superstar said of returning to the stage after a long Covid-forced hiatus, “It was like reconnecting with an old friend. There is no other way to describe it.”
Prior to his next run of shows from Nov. 12-14 at Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, Calif., Kaskade fills Billboard in on what it’s like returning to the road and playing to cars instead of crowds.
What was it like performing in front of a drive-in audience as opposed to an audience at a club or a festival?
It was definitely a shift. I had to adjust my expectations as far as reaction and energy coming my way from the audience. It took me back to the days where I was the opener and you could really see a lot of space between people. But when you stop looking at the space and start seeing the people instead, that’s when you can see it is not even as good as it was, it might even be better. These people were feeling the same way I was – overwhelmed with what it feels like to be together again.
How did you connect with the energy of the audience?
The energy was undeniable, and I couldn’t have dodged it if I tried. In a car, on a car, next to a car, these things don’t matter. It comes down to the music and what we were all there to do: forget about the world being on fire just for a few hours.
When coming up with your set for the different shows, how did you select your songs and arrangements knowing the audience would be watching from their vehicles?
You would think that I’d have prepared for this show since I had nothing but time to prepare for it over the past seven months. But the truth is I walked into the first show absolutely relying on the muscle memory of my crew and myself to pull it off. I didn’t want to plan in the same way we had before. We’ve been doing this together for a long time and I wanted us to all settle into the new way of doing things together in real time.
What did it feel like to play the matinee for first responders?
It was special. Listen, we all know these guys are the ones who have kept us from sinking into oblivion and there’s literally no way to pay them back. We clap out our windows, we shout them out on social media and we play shows for them. Bottom line, we’ll never be able to repay them but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
In your opinion, has it been more or less difficult for DJs to pivot to these kinds of unique performances than perhaps bands or other acts?
I think DJs probably have an easier time because even though we rely on our crew to get the show to run, we don’t have to coordinate quarantining with five other guys we’re sharing the stage with. That is a definite advantage. Bottom line is we’re all figuring this out as we go and it’s not easy for anyone. It’s best to watch and learn and keep trying. Same as it ever was.