Last Thursday, the whooshing, throbbing, and bass-bumping sound of big-room trance house made its debut on Santa Barbara’s biggest stage as internationally renowned Dutch deejay Tiësto delighted thousands of fans with a happy, warm, and relatively mainstream set at the Santa Barbara Bowl.
Tiësto, who consistently places in the top three when magazines like DJ and Mixmag rate the world’s best deejays, specializes in long sets that center on vocal trance power ballads. Songs like “Escape Me,” his recent collaboration with C.C. Sheffield, and “Girls with Bangs,” with Lune, are direct descendants of the vocal house that swept dance floors in New York and Los Angeles in the early 1990s. When throwbacks like the Robin S hit “Show Me Love” from 1993 show up in his sets, as it did on Thursday night, they give the echoing synth washes and vertiginous bass drops of Tiësto’s techno side a warm and beating heart. On Thursday, the undulating synth hook and massive bass figure of “Show Me Love” simmered, then overflowed, shattering in a sonic cascade of looped and echoed vocals, all precisely calibrated to a stunning light show.
Tiësto has extraordinary presence and confidence in the booth. Beaming his incredible smile at the entire crowd through the big screen, he kept in eye contact with the groovers down front and cut his tracks perfectly to fit the mostly young, ultra-happy, dancing crowd.