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The Underground Is Massive: How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America

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Joining the ranks of Please Kill Me and Can’t Stop Won’t Stop comes this definitive chronicle of one of the hottest trends in popular culture—electronic dance music—from the noted authority covering the scene. It is the sound of the millennial generation, the music “defining youth culture of the 2010s” (Rolling Stone). Rooted in American techno/house and ’90s rave culture, Joining the ranks of Please Kill Me and Can’t Stop Won’t Stop comes this definitive chronicle of one of the hottest trends in popular culture—electronic dance music—from the noted authority covering the scene. It is the sound of the millennial generation, the music “defining youth culture of the 2010s” (Rolling Stone). Rooted in American techno/house and ’90s rave culture, electronic dance music has evolved into the biggest moneymaker on the concert circuit. Music journalist Michaelangelo Matos has been covering this beat since its genesis, and in The Underground Is Massive, charts for the first time the birth and rise of this last great outlaw musical subculture. Drawing on a vast array of resources, including hundreds of interviews and a library of rare artifacts, from rave fanzines to online mailing-list archives, Matos reveals how EDM blossomed in tandem with the nascent Internet—message boards and chat lines connected partiers from town to town. In turn, these ravers, many early technology adopters, helped spearhead the information revolution. As tech was the tool, Ecstasy—(Molly, as it’s know today) an empathic drug that heightens sensory pleasure—was the narcotic fueling this alternative movement. Full of unique insights, lively details, entertaining stories, dozens of photos, and unforgettable misfits and stars—from early break-in parties to Skrillex and Daft Punk—The Underground Is Massive captures this fascinating trend in American pop culture history, a grassroots movement that would help define the future of music and the modern tech world we live in.


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Joining the ranks of Please Kill Me and Can’t Stop Won’t Stop comes this definitive chronicle of one of the hottest trends in popular culture—electronic dance music—from the noted authority covering the scene. It is the sound of the millennial generation, the music “defining youth culture of the 2010s” (Rolling Stone). Rooted in American techno/house and ’90s rave culture, Joining the ranks of Please Kill Me and Can’t Stop Won’t Stop comes this definitive chronicle of one of the hottest trends in popular culture—electronic dance music—from the noted authority covering the scene. It is the sound of the millennial generation, the music “defining youth culture of the 2010s” (Rolling Stone). Rooted in American techno/house and ’90s rave culture, electronic dance music has evolved into the biggest moneymaker on the concert circuit. Music journalist Michaelangelo Matos has been covering this beat since its genesis, and in The Underground Is Massive, charts for the first time the birth and rise of this last great outlaw musical subculture. Drawing on a vast array of resources, including hundreds of interviews and a library of rare artifacts, from rave fanzines to online mailing-list archives, Matos reveals how EDM blossomed in tandem with the nascent Internet—message boards and chat lines connected partiers from town to town. In turn, these ravers, many early technology adopters, helped spearhead the information revolution. As tech was the tool, Ecstasy—(Molly, as it’s know today) an empathic drug that heightens sensory pleasure—was the narcotic fueling this alternative movement. Full of unique insights, lively details, entertaining stories, dozens of photos, and unforgettable misfits and stars—from early break-in parties to Skrillex and Daft Punk—The Underground Is Massive captures this fascinating trend in American pop culture history, a grassroots movement that would help define the future of music and the modern tech world we live in.

30 review for The Underground Is Massive: How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America

  1. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    For the people that truly admire the world of electronic music, this books takes you on quite the journey through time. It has experiences from most of the true pioneers starting with the mid-80s bringing it to a modern day evaluation of the scene. The amount of information in it is mind blowing and I highly suggest that for people who understand some of the history, they take the time to dig deeper. This is not a book you pick up and never put down until the end. This book has certain parts tha For the people that truly admire the world of electronic music, this books takes you on quite the journey through time. It has experiences from most of the true pioneers starting with the mid-80s bringing it to a modern day evaluation of the scene. The amount of information in it is mind blowing and I highly suggest that for people who understand some of the history, they take the time to dig deeper. This is not a book you pick up and never put down until the end. This book has certain parts that will speak more to you depending on your own personal experiences. Who you are, where you are from, and personality will all define which parts of this book will speak more to you. Having said that, anyone that enjoys House music and Techno should do themselves a favor and take a step out of the ignorance that exists today and get their mind blown by the actual facts that provide the truth into how this scene was formed.

  2. 5 out of 5

    David Bjelland

    A book written by a fan of the genre's renegade, wildly creative origins, but largely concerned with how it fueled a later generation of vampiric music industry execs and badly-behaving nipple-pasty-clad teenagers with too much disposable income. Scattered, clunky and frustratingly 100-level-survey-course-ish in some (...ok, many) places, and certainly not a book that can hold a candle up to Simon Reynold's Generation Ecstasy, but worthwhile for the aspiring techno nerd. A book written by a fan of the genre's renegade, wildly creative origins, but largely concerned with how it fueled a later generation of vampiric music industry execs and badly-behaving nipple-pasty-clad teenagers with too much disposable income. Scattered, clunky and frustratingly 100-level-survey-course-ish in some (...ok, many) places, and certainly not a book that can hold a candle up to Simon Reynold's Generation Ecstasy, but worthwhile for the aspiring techno nerd.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dean

    One of the best syntheses on a very convoluted and very complex subject. Well written and absolutely enjoyable to read. If there is ever a college course on electronic dance music, this book will be the backbone of that history.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book as a major fan of dance music. However, if someone is new to the scene and wants to read this book as a background source, it is very scattered and confusing. The writing style leaves a lot to bedesired. It's almost information overload, and that's why I gave it a lower rating than usual. Still an interesting read. I thoroughly enjoyed this book as a major fan of dance music. However, if someone is new to the scene and wants to read this book as a background source, it is very scattered and confusing. The writing style leaves a lot to bedesired. It's almost information overload, and that's why I gave it a lower rating than usual. Still an interesting read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brian McCoy

    Loved it! Comprehensive, well-researched and written, and at times, funny. An excellent picture of the history of electronic music in the US. I found myself going "I was there!" or "I wish I was there!" or "I was there but then it got busted!". Loved it! Comprehensive, well-researched and written, and at times, funny. An excellent picture of the history of electronic music in the US. I found myself going "I was there!" or "I wish I was there!" or "I was there but then it got busted!".

  6. 4 out of 5

    Phil

    Given this book's narrow focus on a music genre that many people (myself included) don't particularly care for, I doubt it will appeal to a large audience. However, if you've ever wondered how it's become possible today for someone armed with only a laptop and turntables to stand relatively still on a stage, whip a large crowd into a frenzy for a few hours and then collect a large paycheck for the effort, you'll find this book very insightful. As the title denotes, electronic dance music (EDM) i Given this book's narrow focus on a music genre that many people (myself included) don't particularly care for, I doubt it will appeal to a large audience. However, if you've ever wondered how it's become possible today for someone armed with only a laptop and turntables to stand relatively still on a stage, whip a large crowd into a frenzy for a few hours and then collect a large paycheck for the effort, you'll find this book very insightful. As the title denotes, electronic dance music (EDM) is enjoyed widely, and perhaps surprisingly, by a massive amount of people around the globe well beyond just the expected Euro nightclubs. How did this come to pass while you were busy in the States blasting alternative and grunge and wondering if Led Zeppelin would ever reunite? This book will provide plenty of entertaining details. Since I can't give it 3.5 stars, I've bumped the official rating up to 4 in recognition of the author's seemingly exhaustive and authoritative effort to make sense of this 30+ year entertainment development.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Mocella

    Three-Sentence Review: This book traces the deep history of electronic dance music in the United States, occasional foray to Europe, from the nascent and deep-underground early 1980s through the massive overexposure and ubiquity of the mid 20-teens. The large majority of the book is 1980s/early 1990s centric, with most of the spokes revolving around the Detroit scene with major additions from Chicago, New York. and Los Angeles (then the rest of the country by piecemeal). There's no way to really Three-Sentence Review: This book traces the deep history of electronic dance music in the United States, occasional foray to Europe, from the nascent and deep-underground early 1980s through the massive overexposure and ubiquity of the mid 20-teens. The large majority of the book is 1980s/early 1990s centric, with most of the spokes revolving around the Detroit scene with major additions from Chicago, New York. and Los Angeles (then the rest of the country by piecemeal). There's no way to really capture the breadth and depth of electronic music as it grew, expanded, and evolved in the U.S., but this book traces one interesting route of evolution over time, even if it wasn't the history and scene that I experienced myself.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Will

    I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected. As someone who doesn't know Deadmau5 from Diplo, I was a bit worried by the 'EDM' in the title, but this book actually does a great job of covering the fundamentals of House and Techno music history and really only spends a chapter or two on the more recent acts. Some good interviews and quotes from primary sources, and some good digging in archives of old lists. More importantly, this book definitely gave me massive flashbacks to my high school and coll I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected. As someone who doesn't know Deadmau5 from Diplo, I was a bit worried by the 'EDM' in the title, but this book actually does a great job of covering the fundamentals of House and Techno music history and really only spends a chapter or two on the more recent acts. Some good interviews and quotes from primary sources, and some good digging in archives of old lists. More importantly, this book definitely gave me massive flashbacks to my high school and college years (in a good way). My only criticism is that it was a bit discombobulated and strangely organized at times, but somewhat understandable given the book's scope.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jim Rossi

    I'm a historian and read a lot of books, and I'm a huge EDM fan. So I was really excited to read this book, especially with some glowing recommendations. I pushed myself through the first few chapters, but it just didn't draw me in any way. I felt like the reader was trying to make me feel bad for liking EDM in Vegas, surrounded by hundreds of scantily clad women, when I should instead be listening to some out-of-shape dude spin records in his parents' basement or something. As Mr. Chow would sa I'm a historian and read a lot of books, and I'm a huge EDM fan. So I was really excited to read this book, especially with some glowing recommendations. I pushed myself through the first few chapters, but it just didn't draw me in any way. I felt like the reader was trying to make me feel bad for liking EDM in Vegas, surrounded by hundreds of scantily clad women, when I should instead be listening to some out-of-shape dude spin records in his parents' basement or something. As Mr. Chow would say, "Boring... Take nap."

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nels Highberg

    This was a re-read. The book is incredibly rich and detailed. It's comprehensive and covers all of the major players and many minor ones. If anything, there are times when there is a bit too much detail. Though the book is centered around major parties and festivals of the last forty years, some chapters spend more time on things other than the festival at hand. And the appendix lists inaccessible radio shows rather than a clear discography. It's not a light read for the average fan, though it's This was a re-read. The book is incredibly rich and detailed. It's comprehensive and covers all of the major players and many minor ones. If anything, there are times when there is a bit too much detail. Though the book is centered around major parties and festivals of the last forty years, some chapters spend more time on things other than the festival at hand. And the appendix lists inaccessible radio shows rather than a clear discography. It's not a light read for the average fan, though it's extensive enough for those who really want deep knowledge.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Matt Lanka

    The author provides a great overview of EDM in America. As a new fan, I learned a lot about the origins of house music and its descendants, famous festivals and parties, and how the scene has changed over time. I think the book could have been easily expanded to include the history of dance music in Europe, since many of the music's most accomplished artists are from there. Still, this is an invaluable resource and a good oral history for anyone who isn't familiar with the music and its roots. The author provides a great overview of EDM in America. As a new fan, I learned a lot about the origins of house music and its descendants, famous festivals and parties, and how the scene has changed over time. I think the book could have been easily expanded to include the history of dance music in Europe, since many of the music's most accomplished artists are from there. Still, this is an invaluable resource and a good oral history for anyone who isn't familiar with the music and its roots.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Porter

    Impressively well-researched history of 1980-present dance music, culture, raves DJ’s and concerts that can almost feel too detailed at times, but when you come to a song or a DJ that you know, you appreciate the work that went into this book and you want more of it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sam Beckwith

    Entertaining, sharply written and well-researched history of American rave culture, occasionally marred by simple editing/fact-checking errors. (The same three sentences appear twice in different sections, for instance, and the English county of Cornwall is referred to as a "city".) Entertaining, sharply written and well-researched history of American rave culture, occasionally marred by simple editing/fact-checking errors. (The same three sentences appear twice in different sections, for instance, and the English county of Cornwall is referred to as a "city".)

  14. 5 out of 5

    caroline anhalt

    educational but extraordinarily dry at points, so many names to remember

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    The Underground Is Massive:How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America by Michaelangelo Matos tells us how electronic dance music became one of the greatest and biggest music success's. The Underground was run by the youth and was a underground music business that soon enough conquered America. This book tells the story of a bunch of outsiders who came together and created a worldwide movement. The book perfectly reflects upon nineteen parties over thirty years showing how electronic dance musi The Underground Is Massive:How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America by Michaelangelo Matos tells us how electronic dance music became one of the greatest and biggest music success's. The Underground was run by the youth and was a underground music business that soon enough conquered America. This book tells the story of a bunch of outsiders who came together and created a worldwide movement. The book perfectly reflects upon nineteen parties over thirty years showing how electronic dance music was forever changing and becoming increasingly popular. From the black, to gay clubs, to raves this book will be sure to provide you with insight to how electronic dance music became what it is today. The book provides readers with the origins of EDM music and gives interviews from various music professionals. The book also exposes a gigantic list of artists who were ignored and mocked by underground fans but have earned well deserved roots in American Dance Culture. I found this book to be very intriguing and exciting. It gave me a new perspective on electronic dance music and how it came to be. If it weren't for me reading I would have never known that EDM music started as a small little underground business. I thought it was always a popular genre of music. I loved how the book took me to a certain place and time and describes the events that took place at each rave, party, or club. This book truly takes you through a journey of time to provide the best possible insight to how house and techno music formed. Other readers on Goodreads have very similar thoughts to me about this book. Majority of people have said that this book is a great way to learn about rave culture and to really explore the origins if you like EDM music. Other people have explained that the book is very cluttered and scattered. There is a ton of information to take in and it can be very overwhelming. I agree with both spectrums from other Goodreads reviewers. I did enjoy this book for sure but there was tons of information regarding different events, artists, and history. I also agree that if you are a big fan of EDM music this book would be a good read. Clearly the type of reader who would enjoy this book the most would be people who truly admire the world of electronic dance music. Anyone could definitely enjoy the book but fans of EDM would be the most interested. The book was overall well researched, captivating, and unique. The only thing that made reading to be confusing at times was the amount of information. It felt like information overload and was for sure interesting but also confusing. Everything else I found to be entertaining and even funny at times. The book even had me making connections to events or situations. I kept finding myself being like "I've done that" or thinking this relates to situations I've been in. I really loved the captivating plot and thrilling way to share how EDM music conquered America.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    Find this review at Where's My Bookmark? Book received in exchange for an honest review Enlightening, fun, and filled with information. Michaelangelo Matos tracks the transformation of electronic dance music from the underground of Chicago and Detroit, and the rave scene from London, to the billion dollar industry it is now. For a newcomer like me who has limited knowledge of house, techno, and electronic dance music (other than having Daft Punk on my iPOD), The Underground is Massive was a littl Find this review at Where's My Bookmark? Book received in exchange for an honest review Enlightening, fun, and filled with information. Michaelangelo Matos tracks the transformation of electronic dance music from the underground of Chicago and Detroit, and the rave scene from London, to the billion dollar industry it is now. For a newcomer like me who has limited knowledge of house, techno, and electronic dance music (other than having Daft Punk on my iPOD), The Underground is Massive was a little difficult to get into, especially with the introduction of various names and places. But I soon got over that because how engrossing the book became. Matos thoroughly researched and interviewed countless people to bring together a complete history this music genre. He creates a vibrant music scene and retells the ups and downs of electronic music intertwined with real-world developments such as changes in the music industry and 9/11. The feature I enjoyed the most was how Matos divided up and illustrated the changes through different parties and festivals. It’s such a neat feature, but super important when it comes to a subject like this. Equally important, I’m glad and impressed by how Matos talked about the connection between drug-use and these parties. And how the expansion of the internet and communication affected the scene. Coming from an experienced music writer, I think Matos not only created a wonderful homage to the evolution of EDM, but he brings forth much need appreciation to a genre of music that was born in America, grew and experienced the world, and then came back home to waiting arms, or *ahem*, dance floors. All in all, this is a great read for music enthusiasts and anyone who wants a little more background info on the origins of EDM. Read if you like: non-fiction, music, music history, EDM, house, techno, rave culture, microhistory

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gaelen

    For a music nerd like me who just doesn't understand "the kids today" (get off my lawn!) and their EDM, this book presents an interesting and thoughtful history that helped me understand the roots of electronic dance music and how it became so popular among today's youth. Matmos effectively connects the dots from Africa Bamataa and the Soul Sonic Force, to the early days of the Detroit and Chicago club scenes, to the L.A. raves that I remember from my high school/college days, to modern genre-cr For a music nerd like me who just doesn't understand "the kids today" (get off my lawn!) and their EDM, this book presents an interesting and thoughtful history that helped me understand the roots of electronic dance music and how it became so popular among today's youth. Matmos effectively connects the dots from Africa Bamataa and the Soul Sonic Force, to the early days of the Detroit and Chicago club scenes, to the L.A. raves that I remember from my high school/college days, to modern genre-crossing, the Electric Daisy Carnival, and the rise of Daft Punk. The book is populated with interesting characters and stories that make it an engaging read, in addition to being informative. I'm still not interested in *listening* to what I still call "techno," but I feel like my knowledge of music history has been enriched by knowing more about it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Oriana

    I admit that I don't much care for EDM, but this sounds like such a fascinating cultural history. From Flavorwire: Matos draws a direct line from the post-disco epiphanies of Chicago house and Detroit techno to the 21st-century robotics of Daft Punk and glittering EDM mega-festivals, party cruises, campouts, and other bacchanals where saucer-eyed dancers should be drinking a lot more water than they probably are. In a book that’s as much detailed ethnography as musical history, Matos — a veteran I admit that I don't much care for EDM, but this sounds like such a fascinating cultural history. From Flavorwire: Matos draws a direct line from the post-disco epiphanies of Chicago house and Detroit techno to the 21st-century robotics of Daft Punk and glittering EDM mega-festivals, party cruises, campouts, and other bacchanals where saucer-eyed dancers should be drinking a lot more water than they probably are. In a book that’s as much detailed ethnography as musical history, Matos — a veteran of the ’90s Midwest scene — builds from email lists, party fliers, archived DJ sets, and fresh interviews to find the first widescreen perspective on one of the United States’ most obscured cultural legacies.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stefanie

    I got about 20% into this and put it down. It's a year later and I think it's safe to say I won't be coming back to read it all the way through. I super love both electronic music and history, but sadly I could not get through this book. The writing style was dense and all over the place. I have some idea that perhaps I'll come back and use this as a reference book, but to be honest, I think I'd rather just meet Matos in person and have a series of long chats with him. I got about 20% into this and put it down. It's a year later and I think it's safe to say I won't be coming back to read it all the way through. I super love both electronic music and history, but sadly I could not get through this book. The writing style was dense and all over the place. I have some idea that perhaps I'll come back and use this as a reference book, but to be honest, I think I'd rather just meet Matos in person and have a series of long chats with him.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Josh Preston

    A pretty good history lesson, drawing a long looping line from Juan Atkins and Derrick May through Detroit WMC,Coachella, Electric Daisy and the current mess of Bottle Service EDM... great appendix of mixes of all shapes of sizes in the back to hunt down and discover...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    I misplaced this book, and it's driving me crazy! I want to finish it! Update: I found the book, and then I lost it again somehow! Help! I misplaced this book, and it's driving me crazy! I want to finish it! Update: I found the book, and then I lost it again somehow! Help!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Kwon

  23. 5 out of 5

    Adam

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Luebke

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ross

  26. 5 out of 5

    Domenica

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kieran

  28. 4 out of 5

    Evgeny Lipinsky

  29. 4 out of 5

    Yulia

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cameron

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