Tiësto concludes explosive college tour

In the center of a crowd, it’s hard to decipher the scale of everything going on around you.

Exhilirating DJ · Tiësto wraps up his “College Life Tour” at the Home Depot with stunning music, brilliant stage displays and frenetic fireworks. - Photo courtesy of Rephlektor Inkorporated

For Tiesto’s final “College Life Tour” show at the Home Depot Center last Saturday, it took a look back from the stairs for the magnitude of the event to register: an entire soccer field filled to the brim with thousands of people, jumping up and down in frenetic ecstasy, hands flying, chests heaving in the cool autumn air.

The show didn’t begin that way. Nineteen-year-old electronic prodigy Porter Robinson kicked off the concert, and for all his exceptional skill, he still wasn’t able to muster up a big crowd.

That wasn’t necessarily his fault — it was early, the sun still hung in the sky and concertgoers were still trickling onto the hard white plastic floor of the stadium.

Regardless, he put on an impressive performance, weaving together his own tracks with crowd favorites such as the booming, dark Chuckie and Hardwell single “Move It 2 The Drum,” which elicited a roar of approval from the crowd.

Robinson showed his age and playfulness in the performance as well, deliberately milking the build-up to a song’s climax and mixing angular, unpredictable transitions from song to song — during his hit “Say My Name,” for instance, he left the crowd hanging in white noise for a moment before finally dropping the beat, laughing at everyone’s mistimed dancing.

Swedish duo Dada Life (Olle Corneer and Stefan Engblom) bumped up the volume, literally, and also benefitted from the help of a larger, more energetic audience that had finally established itself.

The duo pumped out a blend of eclectic house music. Highlights included mixes of Benny Benassi’s always-loved “Satisfaction,” the Lil’ Jon-infused, hard-hitting “Turbulence” and a breathtaking rendition of Swedish House Mafia’s “Save the World,” which inspired the audience to belt out the chorus in unison.

Of course, Dada Life wouldn’t be complete without two things: bananas and champagne. This random gimmick was executed in full force Saturday, with people in banana suits charging the stage and throwing out huge inflatables in the shape of — you guessed it — bananas and champagne. Corneer and Engblom also took the time to partake in a little real-world fruit and alcohol, wide smiles blooming on their faces.

Diplo (aka Thomas Pentz) continued the weirdness with his use of the gargantuan LED light board situated center stage, unleashing his signature psychedelic graphics onto the audience. His performance begged one serious question: Is there anything better than being fully entranced by bits of clip art dancing across an epileptically flashing red-and-green background, with Diplo’s acclaimed mixes blasting through a stadium?

The answer would be no — Diplo gave a show that made the crowd absolutely riotous as it never had been before. Behind a mash of grimy dubstep bass wobbles, screeching digital noise and reverberating synth chords, he fully demonstrated his honed skills in the process, giving Tiësto an extremely difficult act to follow. The inclusion of heart-stoppingly epic remixes of Kanye West’s “All Of The Lights” and Chris Brown’s tongue-twisting, swag-laced “Look At Me Now” topped off an entirely incredible display of aural and visual talent.

And like that, it was finally time for the headliner: Tiësto.

There was a quiet moment for a second. A cooling breeze meandered through the chattering crowd, folding in with the haze of marijuana smoke and the crowd’s palpable anticipation.

The quiet was broken by the brilliantly colorful light bursting from an array of enormous light boards saved for the final performance. The immensely theatrical video intro signaled Tiësto’s entrance, sending the crowd in a wild fit of eager animation. As a surprising burst of smoke and a pop of streamers soared into the front of the crowd, he was off.

“Theatrical” really was the operative word for the performance. Markedly different from Diplo’s eclectic, dynamically crazy style, Tiësto proved to be the right artist to close the night, smoothly shooting out track after track of spine-tingling trance and house blends — some songs more orchestral and other pieces just down-and-dirty, with bass that unloaded shockwaves through the writhing crowd.

The audience went crazy during this time, too. Everyone was moving: some jumping up and down, fists pumping, and others cruising in the zone, snaking their arms and legs to the rhythm. Water (or was that beer?) of unknown provenance showered down at random moments. And of course, there was the obligatory exposing of breasts, always accompanied by approving laughs and yells.

The performance also featured awe-inspiring pyrotechnics of various sorts — sometimes sparks sprayed around the stage, other times rockets of light streaked straight into the sky.

And that’s exactly how the show ended — with an extended spray of fireworks exploding in the night, the final gorgeous hits of Tiësto’s music fading away. The lights came up, and the crowd filed out of the Home Depot Center awash in the fog of pyrotechnic smoke, clumsily rolled blunts and countless menthol cigarettes, confetti shedding off of shoulders and hair, tired hands rubbing dilated pupils away.

Just one night, one stadium and one incredible collaboration between some of the world’s finest DJs.