The final quarter of 2023 brought a bountiful offering of pure dance music in Texas, particularly Houston as I have found myself this year make the trip to Space City from San Antonio’s Alamo City more often than I had traveled anywhere else. As I was expecting a quiet and uneventful autumn, a series of real trance events would pour across my feed. As I have painstakenly worked hard to keep trance and the real rave alive in South Texas, I desired to go support and experience these incredible showcases, enjoying these massive dance events headlined by the likes of ATB, Paul van Dyk, Darude, and Andy Moor. Earlier this summer, I had co-headlined San Antonio’s biggest anime rave, San AnTokyo 5 with JES, a dream come true 20 years in the making, only to all of a sudden see JES again three months later as she co-headlined with Andy Moor at Stereo Live Houston. Reuniting with JES in Houston was as much a lovely and inspiring experience as the moment was when I opened direct support for her in San Antonio and I regard JES as among my greatest vocalists of all time; however, JES would not be the only dance music singer I would see twice in the same year as another queen of dance music would make her return this year, Natalie of Cascada.
Cascada previously made an appearance earlier this year at RISE Rooftop in Houston. Cascada’s January 27th show would mark the first time in a decade the Eurodance act would perform in the United States. Cascada was welcomed to a massively sold-out crowd back in January, which Ame and I would find out how incredibly difficult it was to hold our position, eventually losing our spot altogether on the main floor. Despite the sardine-can packed house, the Cascada show in January 2023 felt like it was one of the best raves I ever attended in my life. That night pleased my heart as hundreds, possibly over a thousand people in one area were fans of pure dance music performed by Cascada and other classic dance hits from Y2K played by Cascada’s direct opener, DJ Riddler; my photos of that night can be seen on my Instagram. For Cascada’s December 8th show, I made it a point this time to arrive early to RISE to ensure I got the rail in order to enjoy the show as close as possible while taking as many good photos as possible. I did succeed; however, it did not take long for RISE to pack very quickly and indeed I needed to be committed to my spot.
The first DJ to open the night was Playboy. Unlike last year when the show would start with dance music, Playboy’s set primarily consisted of millenial hip-hop and R&B. Growing up throughout high school, I was not a fan of rap music after the year 2000 compared to what I would hear in the 90s as a kid, but my nostalgic heartstrings were plucked incredibly hard as I would recall the reflections of prom night and some of the parties that I would go to in high school and the first few years in the Air Force. Playboy’s set was an hour where I realized how much I’ve taken hip-hop and my teen years for granted and that I could enjoy that era one more time. Riddler would also return this year to open for Cascada again as direct support, but this time dedicate more of an EDM set playing a lot of the dance hits that I heard growing up listening to Party 93.1 in South Florida, and On The Edge with Totally Patrick in the Florida panhandle. I was also amazed and realized that I was going to have a really good night when I would hear hints of HandsUp and Hardstyle on the opening acts and I became much happier seeing those behind me losing their minds to the real rave sounds. The time would eventually come as Cascada’s Natalie would make her way to the stage in almost the same grand entrance she made back in January, starting off with ‘Miracle‘ and following with “Evacuate the Dancefloor“, although trust when I say we are not going anywhere and neither is the rave. Sure the first time I saw Cascada was my first time ever; and even for other, it was their first time in a very long time; however, I did not feel any diminishing excitement nor anticipation seeing Cascada take the stage again. Whether it is because I am much closer to the stage or Cascada provided some fresh new takes in this recent performance, I actually had a better time seeing Cascada this second time this year. Natalie would go on to sing more of her hits like ‘Because the Night‘ and her collaboration with Timmy Trumpet and Harris & Ford “Never Let Me Go“, and it’s just not a Cascada show without the climatic hit, “Everytime We Touch“. I could go to 100 Cascada concerts and the vibe of enjoying their music live eclipses listening to recordings on my phone or radio and if anyone reading this has the chance to attend a Trance Music or Eurodance massive, I definitely encourage you all to experience the magic of a real live rave.
I have one more show I am planning to attend this year and that is the first ever Galaxy Station Trance Music Festival, coming up this Friday, December 15th at Escapade 2001 in Houston, Texas. Many ticket tiers have sold out and it is very possible this event will sell out too. As happy as I am seeing Trance being very well appreciated again, I hate for anyone to miss out from an incredible rave weekend so if you are even thinking about going, get your tickets now. For those that missed out on Cascada completely this year, the act is still touring, although their next appearance is at Mighty Hoopla Big Weekender in Butlin’s Bognor Regis at West Sussex, England on January 27th. Stay on top of Cascada news, performance appearances, and music on their website at cascada-music.de.