Electronic dance music connects DJs with college students

Musical acts and big-time performances have rocked the Bryce Jordan Center in many ways during the arena’s 17-year history. But lately, electronic music has been shaking the walls and drawing big crowds to the on-campus venue.

With a November 2011 show from Avicii and last year’s Dayglow concerts, the dance-music phenomenon that has long filled clubs and iPods has permeated Happy Valley’s biggest stage. And there was no better example than the BJC announcement that Tiesto, one of the genre’s biggest names, was coming to town in October.

Considering the recent string of cancellations at the Jordan Center, techno fans were especially worried when the show was postponed after Tiesto suffered a back injury. Fast-forward five months, and the show is back on the calendar, and the renowned Dutch DJ is set to perform Feb. 26.

The “Club Life College Invasion Tour” has 14 stops through March 9. Tiesto, along with supporting acts Tommy Trash and Quintino, will bring the high energy and heavy dance beats to college towns across the country. State College’s DJ Kid AV, a remix artist, also will open the Jordan Center show.

Tiesto has been the face of a genre that often is faceless. Giant speaker equipment, dark rooms and smoke machines render many DJs anonymous. But, although Tiesto may not be a household name, he has become a dorm-room name, and many young adults have instilled dance music as a part of their generation’s culture.

Over the past 20 years, techno artists have only sporadically shaken up the mainstream. Groups such as Daft Punk and The Prodigy made waves by creating a radio-friendly brand of techno in the 1990s. Tiesto’s kind of techno — known as house music — earned him a Grammy nomination, numerous MTV awards and an appearance at the 2004 Olympic Games opening ceremony.

He built a worldwide following with a thumping drive and dynamic energy that draws dancers. The DJ did it by building a community using methods that are no way old fashioned: the Internet. It’s fitting for an electronic artist to depend on electronic means to create a devout community of fans.

Tiesto sports almost 14 million fans on Facebook. He has 3 million views on YouTube. The “Club Life Radio Show,” his radio program, is globally syndicated and his podcast is No. 1 on iTunes worldwide. It’s an impressive modern-day resume that keeps Tiesto-heads connected and dancing.

He represents a modern-day musical revolution that began in the smallest of clubs and is now pulsating America’s big arenas. College students gravitate to the carefree sensation the genre represents and identify with a techno veteran who still connects with the youth who just want to dance.