Thursday, February 27, 2014

Show Review: Emancipator Ensemble w/ Odesza and Real Magic

Odesza performs at Lincoln Theatre
The scene at the Lincoln Theatre last Wednesday was certainly a sight to behold. While many may thrash the EDM scene for their heavy focus on rave culture, many also forget the showmanship and talent that is on display at much of these events. Were there scantily clad tu-tu girls? Of course. Did more than one person come up asking me, "Where the party's at?" Oh, most definitely. But that's all a side-note, acts like Emancipator and Odesza and Real Magic keep the thrill alive in this continually evolving scene. I've been to plenty of electronic shows and I've seen a lot of the same stuff over and over, some Top 40s hip-hop remixes, a few nostalgia tinged vocal samples tossed in and a whole lot of predictable bass drops.

However, the trio of acts that took the stage at Lincoln Theatre displayed the opposite end of the electronic spectrum. Though I came into Real Magic's set about two songs before it ended, his music effortlessly combined elements of contemporary dance music with deep yet soaring vocal melodies. The swiftly growing crowd was locked into Real Magic with pixie-winged dancers flowing through the crowd and tank-topped snapback wearing bros muttered about how good this dude was. Missing most of Real Magic's was really the only downside of this evening for me, but alas the Bonnaroo lineup announcement was in full force and I couldn't walk out without knowing whether or not I'd be belting out "Benny and the Jets" this June on the farm.

Real Magic performing at Lincoln Theatre
When Odesza took the stage it was clear that the crowd was in for a treat. The duo set up their two Akai APCs and dazzled the crowd with a heady blend of bass heavy dance tunes and smoothly melodic structures. Whether it was a chopped and screwed vocal pattern turned into a rhythmic center or encompassing, airy synths that glide over tight percussive arrangements, Odesza's tunes were completely enthralling to the hundreds in attendance. Halfway through their set I paused my ridiculous dance routine and scanned the crowd, noticing the shoulder to shoulder dance party taking place around me. The Seattle-based production duo repeatedly noted how hyped up the crowd was and whether they were churning out favorites from their My Friends Never Die EP or brand new tracks, the fans were just as enthusiastic in their hoots, hollers and gyrations.

Odesza served as a perfect segue into Emancipator Ensemble. While I was certainly expecting an explorative live arrangement from these guys, my expectations were completely blown out of the water. I've always knocked the "jam" scene, and even when I saw Pretty Lights with a live stage set-up at Mountain Oasis last year it just simply didn't do it for me, they latched on too long to the strong melodic sections and they became repetitive and valueless. Emancipator Ensemble served as a blueprint for how to properly arrange live electronic music. Douglas Appling, brainchild of Emancipator, was planted firmly behind his laptop and beat pad, churning out heady synth melodies that were further fleshed out by the enchanting violin, drums and groove-inducing bass.

A buddy of mine soberly remarked "This music makes me feel like a jellyfish," I may have laughed and brushed it off at the time but it was almost too accurate to be hilarious. The songs felt free-form and flowing despite their structure and the infectious rhythms drove the packed out Lincoln Theatre to uninhibited dance. As the band threw out "Minor Cause" a densely packed piece of electronic wonder, the crowd's excitement reached its tipping point. Watching all of these parts come together in a live setting, with impressive video projection and light shows at that, was nothing short of whimsical and left me with an intense desire to see this set again. Emancipator have set the bar high for live electronic acts for me, it was an incredibly immersive experience that broke down the fourth wall of electronic music and made it much more than the perceived "dudes pushing buttons on stage." Any electronic detractors should check out a show like this one and then try to tell me that there's no talent involved in this genre.

No comments:

Post a Comment