No mistaking van Dyk at Identity show 

click to enlarge Big numbers: Paul van Dyk, who headlines Friday’s Identity Festival at the Shoreline Amphitheatre, says electronic music isn’t necessarily experiencing a boom — huge crowds have been gathering to hear it for at least a decade. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Big numbers: Paul van Dyk, who headlines Friday’s Identity Festival at the Shoreline Amphitheatre, says electronic music isn’t necessarily experiencing a boom — huge crowds have been gathering to hear it for at least a decade.

There can be only one PvD.

Berlin’s globe-trotting producer-DJ megastar Paul van Dyk drops into the Bay Area this week to preside atop the Identity Festival at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View on Friday.  

The Grammy Award-nominated, progressive trance icon tours his first LP in five years, “Evolution,” delivering his populist mix of banging beats, atmospherics and guest vocalists such as Owl City’s Adam Young.

The Identity Festival and other big corporate dance parties seem like a milestone for the genre, but the 30-year-old veteran has seen it before, he says.

“There’s a lot of people who say, ‘There’s this boom in electronic music in America,’” van Dyk says. “I’ve been around quite a long time, I’ve seen, like, big crowds at big raves — which is what we called them back then, 10, 15 years ago. When it comes to electronic music, these numbers are not new.”

“What we see right now is ... top 40 suddenly sounds a little dance-y,” he says. While artists such as Rihanna are “using the sound of the moment to be popular,” he adds, “I don’t think anyone would call Rihanna ‘dance.’”

Van Dyk avoids massive R&B or hip-hop artists in favor of rockers such as Linkin Park. It comes down to artistic integrity: “I’m lucky enough that a lot of people enjoy my music and that enables me to travel all around the world and play music all over the world. But I wouldn’t change a single tune or note of my music in order to actually achieve that,” he says.

“I don’t really have any connection to this whole R&B and hip-hop thing, because to me, this is the complete antidote to what electronic music is about,” he says. “It’s about a drive, it’s an opening up from yourself, from your inner self, and really kind of like living that energy, that positiveness. It’s not about bling-bling and showing off. You have to be a real artist. You have to be without any compromise. You have to believe.”

Whether playing to 1.5 million on Barra Beach in Rio, or on his annual trips to The City, van Dyk, who grew up behind the Iron Curtain, seems grateful for it all: “I can truly honestly say whenever I’ve been in S.F. I’ve had the time of my life, and I’m intending on having it again.”

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David Downs

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