How Kaskade Became The First DJ To Perform On The Grand Canyon West’s Skywalk

Feeling The Night:
Mark Owens /
– Feeling The Night:
Kaskade performs at the Grand Canyon West

With most concerts, the goal is to successfully promote the event to get as many fans as possible to attend. Of course, the philosophy is a bit different during a pandemic. When Kaskade booked a once-in-a-lifetime show at the Grand Canyon West’s Skywalk, his team purposely waited until the gig’s May 14 date to announce it.  

“The last thing I wanted to do was risk anyone showing up at this thing,” agent Kevin Gimble of UTA says. “People are going to want to go. People were starting to get pent up and really feel the need to leave their homes. So we couldn’t really promote it with too much notice.” 

During the COVID-19 shutdown, Kaskade had already done a few virtual performances, but the electronic artist was looking to play a remote location that was out of the ordinary.

Kaskade thought he had come up with the perfect spot after scouting out California’s Catalina Island and getting permission to play, but he was forced to cancel because of concerns that fans might travel to the island and violate stay-at-home orders. Fortunately, an even bigger opportunity came along.

The next day, promoter Kian Salari from Innervision Events reached out to Gimble with the idea of Kaskade performing on the Grand Canyon West’s Skywalk.
Kaskade and his manager, Ryan Henderson, were on board right away, and within 10 days the show went from a proposal to making history as the first time a DJ had played the Skywalk, a 10-foot-wide horseshoe-shaped bridge that extends 70 feet out over the rim of a side canyon and includes a glass walkway that gives visitors a breathtaking view of the canyon floor 4,000 feet below. The EDM star’s nearly-two-and-a-half hour set was highlighted by the natural beauty of the sunset against the colorful layers of ancient rocks, along with his team’s impressive production that lit up the bridge as the evening changed from dusk to dark. 

“When the opportunity to play at the Grand Canyon West Skywalk presented itself I wanted to grab it with both hands before anyone changed their minds,” Kaskade says. “Since livestreams have been really the only way to communicate with my audience, I couldn’t believe the luck I had with being able to take them there, to one of the most majestic and awesome (TRULY AWESOME) spots on the planet. Figuring out the logistics with it seems like a blur because all I could do was imagine standing there in the canyon, playing the music that means the most to me for the people who mean the most to me.

“The reality surpassed the dream in a rare turn of events,” he adds. “As the sun went down I wanted to say something in the mic, to convey what I was feeling but I just kept looking into the canyon and being rendered speechless. Fortunately for me, my audience expects this from me. The experience was a career highlight for me which I didn’t see happening during a pandemic but hey – 2020 is nothing if not unpredictable.”  

In The Moment:
Mark Owens /
– In The Moment:
Kaskade performs at the Grand Canyon West
The team had to work quickly to make the show happen before the area reopened to the public June 1, among other challenges including keeping the team socially distanced during the event.

While performing at a national park may seem like an experience full of red tape, Henderson explains that the skywalk is owned by the Hualapai Indian tribe.
“We made a donation to the tribal foundation and they gave us pretty much free reign,” he says. “They had security there for us and they were so accommodating. The only red tape we went through was getting FAA clearance for flying our drones.”

Initially the plan was to record the performance, piece it together post-production and broadcast it later, but the show was moved up a day and became a livestream after UTA’s Music Innovation Department secured a sponsorship with BeApp, a live music streaming platform that wanted to use Kaskade’s show to make its launch in partnership with Coca-Cola’s Coke Studio Sessions. Thanks to the sponsorship, fans could watch the show free, either by downloading BeApp’s app or by tuning in to Coca-Cola’s studios’ YouTube channel or Kaskade’s Twitch or Instagram.  

Kaskade was joined by a skeleton crew of less than 10 people including videographer and director of streaming Jet Lejano and LD and production manager Sean Guarino, owner of Sexy Lites.

“The night before they showed us some pictures … so we got an idea of what it would look like, but there [wasn’t much] planning, just kind of threw it together on the fly,” says Henderson, noting that you can spend months and months planning tours and production and “then something never works. This was thrown together so fast and then everything seemed to work. Our team did a great job executing it.” 

According to Henderson, even a few tense moments, like not having audio properly set up in the first few minutes, made the experience more special by showing that it was taking place in real time. 

“Watching Kaskade perform at this incredible location was a pretty emotional experience,” Gimble says. “I’ve been doing this for over 20 years and I’ve had plenty of sort of benchmark moments in my career. Never would I have thought that I’d have such a key defining moment in my career during the quarantine. It was that spectacular.”

Adds Henderson: “We’re usually always trying to deliver big moments. And we hadn’t done that for a minute. So it was good to get the team back together and do something we could be proud of again.”