words by Tyler Walczak
The Eagles Ballroom was a fine place to be on a Friday night for any diehard electronic music fan. Looking freshly rolled out of bed, local artist DJ Chubby Chase was there to have a good time and started the show off with some simply remixed beats that, while not exceedingly intricate and sometimes on the verge of sounding bland, started to come into their own when Chase allowed his own sound to rise into the aural foreground instead of hiding behind the samples.
Next up, NiT GriT, moniker of San Jose, California native Danny Beall, hit the crowd hard with heavy bass lines supplemented by float-y melodies that lifted and carried until the release had the audience hitting the ground with the next drop. NiT GriT’s dirty sound more than lives up to his name.
Producer Alex B donned his part-time pseudonym, Paper Diamond, along with his party hat for the third act of the night. Taking on a crowd that was, at this point, getting a little antsy for the main show to begin, Paper Diamond provided a stellar performance. Delivering a fusion of styles that included club-like dance beats, robotic melodies and an occasional cathartic dubstep wub-wub, I almost forgot who I was originally there to see, caught up in a surprisingly great show by a DJ who I would definitely come out for again.
Each of these three DJs, unique in their individual style, seem to gradually step up the intensity, warming up the crowd as if we might not be able to handle Pretty Lights, cold. In the quiet following Paper Diamond retiring from the stage, anticipation and restrained excitement saturate the atmosphere. The clock struck 11:30. Lights flashed and the haunting piano intro to “I Know the Truth” rang out. The crowd instinctively squeezed in closer to the stage, magnetized. The song built up, raising the tension, piling the energy higher and higher until the crowd almost couldn’t stand it. Then, the bass drop.
Each successive blow of the bass seemed to rip apart every cell in my body, the fluttering high notes in between stacking them back together, just to be smashed apart once more. Derek Vincent “Pretty Lights” Smith minces up hip-hop, funk and soul and bakes it into a synth-y electronic crust, making one delicious pie that is even better tasted fresh from the turntable-oven. Pretty Lights is a master at his craft, spinning in samples so smoothly, you would think they were made to be in his songs all along. The animations on the stage backdrop were, however, slightly cheap looking at times, but the overall effect of the lights worked and added a new dimension to music that can only be experienced live. Let’s just say that a lot of funky jams come out from beneath that flat-brimmed baseball cap and I hope they don’t stop any time soon.
Pretty Lights played the Eagles Ballroom on Friday, October 7th.