Video screengrab of the Dead Sea Rave Official After Movie Video screengrab of the Dead Sea Rave Official After Movie A screengrab of the "Official After Movie" (Photo: Screengrab / Youtube)

Dead Sea electronic music rave hosts Paul Oakenfold

20,000 concert fans set to party at the lowest point on Earth.

This week sees the return of the -424 Dead Sea Rave, a 12-hour electronic music festival that will begin on Thursday night in the serene mountains on the east coast of Israel. Last year, for the inaugural event, 20,000 glowstick-waving ravers descended on the Judean Desert for a party that would last from sunset to sunrise. 

The concert was named in honor of the lowest point of land on Earth, at minus 424 meters (1,391 feet) from sea level. Low though it may be, the crowd, fueled by electronic beats spun from the likes of electronic musicians Paul Oakenfold and Deep Dish, as well as rising Israeli stars, are sure to be on a high. 

Although it’s only in its second year, the -424 Dead Sea Rave has a strong reputation among other large-scale electronic dance music (EDM) outdoor raves, with the breathtaking setting boosting its credentials. Last year’s headliner, DJ David Guetta, has also been adding to the buzz.

In a video, Guetta raved about his experience at the 2013 event. “It’s very difficult to describe what makes a show special, but I think it’s all about interaction with the people,” Guetta said. “When there are 20,000 people ... and we feel like one, that’s what makes me feel really special.” With Guetta heaping on the praise, the hype surrounding the second iteration of the -424 Dead Sea Rave has been growing for months.

Rave screengrabThe -424 Dead Sea Rave in 2013 was headlined by David Guetta, Steve Angello and Infected Mushroom. (Photo: Screengrab/YouTube)

The setting

“Having an EDM festival at such a special location is unique,” festival promoter Ali Yossef told From the Grapevine. “It is, after all, a heritage park that mainly holds opera shows and Israeli music events, so the fact that a rave is taking place in such a location is really special.”

Scores of partygoers are brought down to Masada, the locale of the rave, by shuttle buses, which depart from the cities of Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Beer-Sheva and Eilat. “The whole road to Masada is full of epic scenery that simply prepares the crowd for the festival itself,” Yossef said.

Once there, attendees can escape from everyday life, Yossef said. “Such a remote location gives the crowd the ability to unwind, dance and have fun for 12 hours," he added.

Complementing the natural scenery is the state-of-the-art setup. A 230-foot-wide stage, elaborate lighting and pyrotechnic effects ensure the visual experience syncs with the thundering beats.

The music

Then there is the music. EDM is known for its synths, ethereal female vocals and a "euphoric drop" – the climax of a song, when the building bass line really kicks in, spurring the raving masses into a frenzy. This year’s lineup features some of the most sought-after acts from both global and Israeli EDM circles.

Warming up the crowd during the opening set will be VNM, one of several Israeli performers. VNM is a female house duo formed by Nela Goldberg and Viki Makrianis. “It’s unbelievable that we came here as fans a year ago and now we are the opening act of this festival with all these amazing stars,” Goldberg told From the Grapevine. “We want to use the opportunity to play our new tracks for the first time.

Israeli DJ Roy Brizman, or Gel Abril as he’s better known, will also be taking the stage. For Brizman, the setting of the rave, combined with the stellar lineup and vast numbers of revelers, make it especially noteworthy. “The location is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Down there below the mountain, it’s nature at its best ... As a DJ, these events are always fun and they have a great energy with lots of music lovers,” Brizman said.

As the night progresses, the names only get bigger. Grammy winners Deep Dish will perform as a duo, having reunited this year following an eight-year split, while a trio of renowned Dutch acts – Dash Berlin, W&W and Sander Van Doorn — also take to the stage.

Headlining the festival is British trance veteran Paul Oakenfold, who has been a mainstay on the electronic music scene since the 1980s. Oakenfold’s slot at the -424 Dead Sea Rave is enviable; it is his performance that will see the sun rise.

MORE FROM THE GRAPEVINE:

Photos and SlideshowsPhotos and Slideshows