Any EDM genre faces musical scrutiny–they’re perceived as consisting of a lot of heavy bass beats with little musicality, fitting only for nightclubs. But the three DJ’s at last Thursday’s sold-out Madeon show at the 9:30 Club clearly proved these stereotypes otherwise, playing sets that showed their understanding of how to keep the beats heavy enough to maintain a dance atmosphere while leaving the lyrical integrity intact.
Lightwaves, a D.C. native, opened the concert. He was able to get the few people here early moving with a fast-paced set that had a diverse range of music, I don’t think anyone expected to hear The Wombats’ “1996” and trap in the same set. While the technical aspect of his set was great, he lacked the stage presence needed to engage the crowd. Although that improved later on, his lack of eye contact and any form of contact with the audience at the beginning of his set was disconcerting.
The second opening act, Fareoh, definitely made up for the stage presence that Lightwaves lacked. With an impressive musical resumé, I had high expectations and was not disappointed. He started with an energy that definitely grew as the crowd increased throughout his set. His classical background was evident—melodies were brought out so that they sounded almost anthem-like against the heavy background beat. While a few transitions lacked certain finesse, his variety of songs and continuously moving bass lines made up for it. He also played his recently released remix of Zedd’s “Clarity” which was given new life with his interpretation and it was a definite standout alongside Porter Robinson’s “Language” and his original mix, “Feathers” with its sweet synths. You could hear that he and Madeon shared a similar understanding of how music works that makes their tracks incredible—while the melodies remain simple, the complexity behind the arrangements is stunning. His charisma definitely encouraged the crowd, his own hand gestures emphasizing the beats and amping up the audience for each drop as he jumped along. Fareoh was able to deliver the perfect combination of technicality and stage presence, ending with a trance-like song that left the crowd wanting more.
By the time Madeon was scheduled to come on, you could feel the excitement in the room. As his unreleased tracked “Technicolor” began to play and reach its apex, Madeon came out and an incredible light display began behind him. His famously layered music and performance prowess was on full display at the concert, with a seamless transition into “The City”. He didn’t disappoint fans of his original tracks, playing “Icarus”, “Finale”, his remix of “Raise Your Weapon” by Deadmau5, and my personal favorite, his “Pop Culture” mashup. He has seriously mastered mixing tracks together, blending songs of the same key together to create exciting songs that have a French electro and uniquely Madeon vibe. His mix of “Kick out the Epic Motherf*cker” by Dada Life and his remix of Yelle’s “Que Veux Tu” was a definite crowd-pleaser along with his remix of The Killers’ “Smile Like You Mean It” and he encouraged the atmosphere, getting the audience to scream out the choruses with him.
From the moment Madeon walked onstage to thunderous screams, he had a grin on his face and was clearly enjoying performing just as much as we enjoyed listening. He was great at getting the crowd pumped up, emphasizing the silence before an insane drop by simply raising his arm or getting everyone to jump along to the music with a simple flick of his wrist.
Although young, he injects that spirit into his performance just as much as he does his music, filling the concert with raw energy and creating a fun atmosphere for everyone there, whether they were middle schoolers (saw some braces there) or in their thirties (my friends saw their TA), definitely an eclectic group of concert-goers. His ability to mix songs on the fly and innate feel for the music was tantalizing in its musicality and always kept you on your toes wondering what he was going to do next. His famous setup of three Novation Launchpads was also amazing to watch—he played them with the precision of a pianist.
It was a truly incredible performance—everything from the opening acts to his encore, a mashup of his tracks including the remix of Pendulum’s “The Island” that first won him widespread attention (a shout out to us long-time fans?)—was imbibed with the most amazing energy.