A disclaimer: this review comes from a newbie to live electronic shows. May fans of the genre find possible amusement at my erudite observations, and fellow newbies conversely find this a welcoming introduction to the strange, hazy world.
It is worth pointing out that I brought with me a more seasoned fan of electronica and trance for a more balanced perspective. Interestingly, he remarked that Porter Robinson and Madeon’s co-headlining performance last Friday, December 2 was unusual: “Usually, there are no breaks between songs, and it’s just one continuous show,” he said.
On my part, I was confused by what was supposed to be “interactive” about it (as it was what the artists had described what we could expect). Sure, there were a lot of impressive lighting and LED effects that filled up the stage and The Complex as a whole. I even venture to say that, more than the music, this was the highlight of the night. Were the confetti canons the interactive part? Or maybe they meant the self-made interactivity of the concert-goers, many of whom seemed to be cruising on MDMA (a cluster of them sat in the corner, twirling rave discs and completely oblivious to the show going on behind them)?
But if only from my time covering instrumental live bands and observing that lone guy or gal in the back on the synths, I acknowledge that it’s an intricate craft that demands exceptional concentration and dexterity. Robinson especially did his part in hyping up the crowd by consistently throwing up his arms skyward and jumping with his upper body. Madeon mostly played a supporting role and lacked stage presence – something that perhaps a DJ would do well to cultivate considering the static embodiment of the art. His performance of “OK” was a catchy one nonetheless. And my personal favorite came in their stutter-y rendering of “Pay No Mind,” a collaboration with Passion Pit.
They waited until the encore to meet from opposite ends of the stage and perform their joint single, “Shelter.” It was the most sobering, poetic moment of the night. Even the merry light twirlers stopped to behold them at that point.
Go here for more photos from the show.