Local DJs set out to prove that EDM has a place in the mainstream Athens music scene during the 2019 Halloween Block Party on Saturday.
Besides the extravagant costumes, the jovial atmosphere and responsible drinking, Halloween in Athens is known for giving local DJs a chance to show out.
A newcomer to the lineup this year is Caitlin Stegmaier, also known as DJ Cooki3, a senior studying music production. She performed the opening set at the Athens Halloween Block Party, electrifying the growing crowd with fun electronic dance music (EDM)-flavored bangers to kick off the annual event. Before Saturday, she described performing on Halloween as a goal on her way to bigger things.
“Around March, my brother and I made a five-year plan, and my six-month (goal) was to keep getting in contact with (DJ) B-Funk, do the fall showcase, which I did, and then aim for Halloween,” she said.
Stegmaier said that her main inspiration comes from her brother, who brought her along to an Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) in Las Vegas festival a few years back. She’s been DJing for three years now, and each new gig continues to amplify her profile and confidence level.
“I’ve been performing most of my life, doing competitive cheer and competitive dance,” she said. “The adrenaline rush and everyone dancing to what you’re playing is a really good feeling.”
That confidence certainly shined through on a gloomy Saturday. Stegmaier was spirited, exuding infectious energy that a small crowd was not giving back to her. One audience member, Khanh-Vy Tran, a senior studying communication studies, explained that Cooki3 didn’t perform at a prime hour.
“She did amazing, and she deserves to have a later spot,” she said.
Fellow attendee Lindsey Lemen, a junior studying music production, enjoyed Cooki3’s stage presence as well.
“The energy was really good. You could see the water bouncing off the tarp on stage just from the vibrations,” she said.
A highly memorable part of the set was when DJ Cooki3 rattled off a multi-faceted version of Kanye West’s “All Of The Lights.” Her composition of the song had the grooves rocking in full force, and it had a visible effect on the audience. Right before, she proclaimed on stage that this was her favorite part of the whole set.
After the set, Cooki3 was very pleased with her performance, saying that it exceeded her expectations.
“I had a blast, and I wasn’t nervous the majority of the time I was up there because I just felt so in my element,” she said. “There was a point where I played a bass song and people started head-banging over the rails, and that was great to see on stage.”
After such a successful performance, it seems likely that DJ Cooki3 can only go up from here. She said that she cannot wait to see what the future holds for her.
“I just felt so comfortable up there that it just reassured me that that’s what I wish to do for an actual career.”
Logan Senhauser, a junior studying mechanical engineering, is better known by his DJ name, LogieBear took the stage this weekend. Senhauser DJed for DJ B-Funk’s Fun House event on Friday as well as the Athens Halloween Block Party on Saturday.
“Music totally defines the atmosphere,” Senhauser said.
This is what he loves about playing EDM music like house, an EDM subgenre.
“You can’t listen to house music without tapping your foot. My sets are basically to exaggerate that foot tap and really get you moving.”
On Friday night, Brandon Thompson, known as DJ B-Funk, hosted his Fun House on the top two floors of the Athens City Parking Garage, 7 E. Washington St. The Fun House featured 20 DJs, including some of the biggest local names, such as DJ Cooki3, DJ HEX and Thompson himself.
Senhauser said the Fun House was an event Thompson has been planning for years.
Both Thompson and Senhauser say that the Halloween festivities are some of their favorite events in Athens.
“The crowd should be here,” Brian Kozy, a junior studying business, said at the Fun House. “I like the music. I just wish there were more people here to appreciate the music with me.”
However, as the night went on, the crowd grew, and it became apparent that EDM isn’t just a niche. It brings crowds just like any other music performance.
EDM’s popularity was especially clear from the big crowds at the block party’s DJ sets on Saturday. According to Thompson, this year saw the return of the DJ stage after being absent the previous year.
After their Court Street block party sets Saturday night, Senhauser and other DJs played at The Union Bar and Grill, 18 W. Union St., to keep the party going.
“I grew up in Athens,” Thompson said. “Athens is not really an EDM town, but I get excited about it, and I know a lot of other people do, too. Whatever music you’re into, that’s your lifeblood. This is my lifeblood.”
Clarification: The article has been updated to clarify when the DJ stage returned to the Halloween block party.