Friday, February 28, 2014

STS9 - "Abcees" Live from Hollywood 03.02.13 - Song of the Day - (2/28/14)

Sound Tribe has long been a favorite band of ours at Ikonic Sound and today's song of the day is a tribute to their awesomeness. This version of "Abcees" features their reworked ending of the track. Although the status of the group is still unknown to fans in the wake of Murphy's departure, they are billed for almost every major festival and I personally cannot wait to see what the future holds! Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Keller Williams starring More Than A Little w/Jon Wayne and The Pain - "What The Funk Tour" @ The District - Sioux Falls, SD - (2/24/14)

MTAL Summer Camp Victor Wooten (credit: Brian Spady)
A Review By: Troy Manley
Keller Williams is from Fredericksburg, Virginia and if often described as a one-man jam-band because of his frequent use of live looping and multiple instruments during performances. Williams hit the road for a semi-national tour of the United States with his band, More Than A Little, in support of their most recent album, FUNK. Luckily for South Dakotans Keller made a pit stop on the "What The Funk Tour" at The District. The District opened its doors to Sioux Falls residents in the Fall of 2013, and has a capacity around 1,500. The venue is in the parking lot of the Sioux Empire Mall - which happens to be the largest single story mall in America - just off Interstate i-29. The District sports a fairly large standing area with a balcony with some more general admission space and a couple VIP booths. The stage is easily viewable from all parts of the floor; they unfortunately had the balcony closed for the night.

Starting things off for the night was Minneapolis based reggae, rock, and dub band with definite jam and EDM influences, Jon Wayne and the Pain. The group maintains a unique psychedelic reggae sound in their self-described "Reggae-Tronic Dub" by blending traditional styles of reggae-rock with bass heavy sections of electronic dub.  This trio has played an average of 20 shows a month over the past 4 years, playing venues and festivals across the country in support of their three full length albums. While living the dream may sound like a cake-walk, these guys poured their heart and soul into their performance at the District and the crowd was doing the same right back. Highly recommend checking these dudes out if they come anywhere remotely close to you in the future!
Jon Wayne and The Pain

Once the set break concluded and I had time to put the pieces of my brain back together, Keller came on for a brief 45-minute solo set consisting of looping and sampling for the handful of instruments that accompanied him on stage. After playing through a majority of his set, he invited Gerard Johnson to come on stage and take over the keyboards, he was followed by DJ Shaw on bass, Toby Fairchild on drums, and Tonya Lazenby Jackson and Sugah Davis helping out with vocals. Once they were on stage, Keller disappeared for a couple minutes only to reappear having ditched his casual attire for a suit and tie.  

MTAL (credit: Roger Gupta)

The group played through a majority of their album, FUNK, which consists of 10 songs; 6 of which are covers ranging from Rick James to the Grateful Dead, from Talking Heads to Flight of the Conchords. In an interview with hottesttune, Keller said the name of the band "came from the feelings he got the first time he played with this group. He was more than a little happy, more than a little inspired. And of course, the group is 'more than a little funky.'" Down-right funky is how I would describe the events that transpired on stage that magical night at The District. Keller & More Than a Little played with the utmost precision throughout the night as Williams was directing members of the band to play extended jams with each other while effortlessly moving between tracks. Gospel infused funk turned The District into a church of heavenly tunes for all those down with the get down to get down.  Hands down one of the best funk shows I have ever seen, I cannot encourage all you beautiful people enough to make it to a stop on this tour.  Pick up FUNK through Keller's site, HERE.

All Photos of MTAL taken from Keller William's official website gallery, HERE

Hardkiss Brothers - "1991" Album Teaser - Song of the Day [2/27/2014]

A couple of weeks ago we shared an old-school track from late great San Francisco DJ Scott Hardkiss, who passed away about a year ago.  Well, the remaining members of the Hardkiss family have re-launched Hardkiss Records to release an homage to '90s acid house and trance from which they were born.  The album "1991", is currently available for pre-release sale.

They say: "Left a part of your heart in the '90s, we did"...  So did I guys, so did I.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Finch - "What It Is To Burn" Song of the Day [2/26/14]

With the recent success of their "What It Is To Burn" Anniversary tour. Finch is making a comeback with their die hard fans. Releasing two full length albums before disbanding in 2010, Finch was one of my favorite bands during the years of teenage angst. "What It Is To Burn" contains all the aspects of what I enjoy about them.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Foo Fighters - "I'll Stick Around" (Song of the Day) [2-25-14]

The Foo Fighters have become a massive band and one of the only true rock bands left in my opinion. "I'll Stick Around" was the second single from the album Foo Fighters. The self titled album was one of the first CDs I ever purchased as a teen. For this first Foo Fighters album everything was created by Dave Grohl, he recorded every instrument and all the vocals himself. The self titled album was never intended to become so popular. Dave Grohl once said, "The first Foo Fighters record was not meant to be an album, it was an experiment and for fun. I was just fucking around. Some of the lyrics weren't even real words." Grohl would later assemble a band to play the music at live shows, and eventually for the creation of more albums. Now the Foo Fighters are huge and known all over the world.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Syn Cole - Miami 82 (Kygo Remix)

There's no better way to kick off the week than with a new release from Kygo. The deep house artist hailing form Norway has been gaining widespread acclaim due to his jazzy, chill-house remixes of many popular songs. His latest remix, which dropped earlier today, is of Syn Cole's Miami 82. Like most of Kygo's other remixes, this tune starts off with a four-to-the-floor kick, followed by tribal reverb heavy percussion. As soon as Syn Cole's vocals come in, the tune changes dimension and attains a pure lush vibe. As with most other Kygo songs, this remix is incredibly well-produced. Kygo keeps the vocals and melodies of the original track but warp everything significantly, turning it into his own creation.
Kygo has announced that he will start playing shows more often in the United States, and he is confirmed to be at the legendary Electric Forest Festival in June. With such groovy organic beats and uplifting melodies, we can definitely expect a late night after-party chill set somewhere Deep in the Forest.

Pharoelidae - "Vector Equilibriums" - Song of the Day - (2/24/14)

Today's song of the day is a downtempo psy-dub type of tune by an artist I cannot find much about on the internet. Found this bit of information though: "Pharoelidae is the collaborative effort between Akhentek ( and Margot ("Entheognosis" also features the vocals of Theda (" Came across this track in an incredible mix - HERE -  by DJ Maggie and I just had to share it with all you beautiful people. Let us know what you think!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Black Keys - "10 A.M Automatic" Song of the Day [2/23/14]

The Black Keys kick ass, have a small dose to get you over the hangover.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Floozies w/Gloominoti @ Big's Sports Bar - Sioux Falls, SD - 2/20/14 (Review)

Review By: Troy Manley
Brothers Matt and Mark Hill are the duo that make up The Floozies, a party rocking funk infused electronic dance music group that pumps up the crowd and gets everyone moving throughout their passionate performances. Mark rocks the drums while Matt is the producer and brings on the funk with the strings of his guitar. These brothers have been making waves in the music scene over the past couple years and released their most recent album, Tell Your Mother, on Griz’s lablel – Liberated Music. After seeing them perform live at Electric Forest last year I knew this chance to see them live should not be passed up. Although it would have been sweet to see them in a better venue, they took over Big’s Sports Bar in Sioux Falls, SD on a quiet Thursday night on their way to Lincoln to sold out paint party with Zeds Dead.

Big’s has two main rooms connected by a narrow path with a bar running along it. One with 4 pool tables, video lottery, and darts, while the other side is rigged up for shows. Although the sound isn’t the greatest, it’s respectable for the venue and has gotten progressively better with time.  Direct support for the night was the Sioux Falls based duo Gloominoti. The duo consists of Zach Geier and Kory Parisien and they are a staple group at electronic shows hosted at Big’s Bar. They played a range of tunes but mainly stuck with trap and dubstep tracks throughout their performance. Despite the fire alarm going off right when their set started and the trucks arriving after the place was evacuated, their set was raging and everyone there was really digging what they were laying down.

Once their set concluded and a short intermission was over the Kansas based duo, The Floozies, were poised to take over the stage. The guys rocked out some funky bass lines, guitar beats, and drum breaks throughout their show. The sound these two make on stage is so distinct from other electronic acts out there, it’s only a matter of time before these brothers are getting billed as festival headliners. The head bobbing never stopped as these two kept the tunes funky fresh until they had to shut down the stage. Playing tracks from throughout their catalog the show was a great showcase of what The Floozies are capable of. Unfortunately I don’t know of a soundboard existing for the show, however, lucky for us their music is available for free download on their website. HERE is that link. They’ve also got a shit ton of shows planned in the comings weeks so I would definitely advise checking that schedule out HERE and trying to catch them if the opportunity arises! 

All Photos taken from The Floozies Official Facebook page photo-stream: HERE.

Wave Racer - Streamers (Ryan Hemsworth Remix) - Song of the Day [2/22/2014]

Future Bass artist Ryan Hemsworth just released his newest remix a couple days ago. Like many of his older works, this remix of Wave Racer's Streamers is extra lush and super sensual, with a foreground of playfulness. Starting of with the original melody coupled with a fat 808, Ryan Hemsworth sets the tone for a very positive experience. Warping vocals and jukey beats, he manages to express his talent in the most versatile manner we have seen thus far. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Zion I with Sol @ Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom (Review) [2-15-14]

Review by: Justin D'Amico

Pretty much every weekend you can count on Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom to have a kick ass show lined up. Last Saturday Party Guru and Cervantes brought the Zion I crew to Denver along with Sol. The place was bumping with a big crowd, and it nearly sold out.

A lot of new people are making their way out to Colorado and calling it home. Colorado has a lot of talent coming out of all facets of music. The best place to see these up and coming, underground groups is at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom. The opening acts tend to be amazing local talent, building a name and developing their craft. BMBC is one such local group that opened for Zoin I. BMBC is made up of Bobby Macavelli and BC Sound, they are out of California and are currently students at CU in Boulder. Another is Eddie Knolls, a smooth MC representing the Denver hip-hop scene. Eddie Knolls has a great style and his lyrics flow so nice. You can listen and download Eddie Knolls music on bandcamp. The influx of people from all over the country has made Colorado a very diverse place with a good mixture of different styles and ideas.

Sol the Seattle hip hop artist was a special guest on the Masters of Ceremony tour. Sol has more merchandise with the word Zilla on it than the name Sol! He is known for his album Yours Truly which made it to #1 on the iTunes US Hip-Hop Chart, and it went #4 worldwide. His latest project is called Eyes Open and you can stream it on Sol's official youtube page here.

The Zion I crew came out to a very hyped up crowd and they kept it hype until the end of the night. Zion I consists of two guys: Zumbi the MC, and Amp Live the music producer and DJ for live shows. They have a total of seven albums to date, the most recent is called Shadowboxing. The album is a bit harder and grittier than past projects, but still very good. Unlike some past works which use a full band for recording beats Shadowboxing involves a bunch of producers from different genres including Minnesota a glitch-hop / dubstep producer. Zoin I was incredible live and the crowd loved every minute of the show. After the show this was posted to the official Zoin I Crew facebook page, "Amazing show 2nite Denver!! The energy in Colorado has been super dope thus far." You could feel the energy in the air it was a thick fog of pure fun. 

Big ups to Party Guru and Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom for having Zion I and Sol come out to Denver. The show was a lot of fun and the crowd was really fired up for some underground hip-hop. It's always a good time at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom especially with all the top notch talent they showcase there every weekend.

Marvel Years feat: Jay Fresh - "Get On It" [FREE DOWNLOAD]

If you didn't know by the end of 2013 you better funkin know by now that funk in EDM took the funk over!! Groups like Big Gigantc, Gramatik, and the Floozies helped solidify the surge as a producer to incorporate the dirty beats with the filthy funk. Marvel Years,  an up and coming 19 year old phenom from Vermont, straight brings you sly digital and the family stone status amped on a case of spike energy drinks. If the bass doesn't have you getting down I assure you the lyrics from Jay fresh will have you James Brown sea walking. This is a grand track for hip hop and electro soul fans to help fight traffic, you might even have to resist the urge to keep your feet on the pedals for liability reasons. Stop what you are you doing because there's something better waiting when your press play. Get on it!
By Dustin Huff

Boss Miller - "Don't Stand Still" (Unlimited Gravity Remix) - Song of the Day - (2/21/14) [FREE DOWNLOAD]

Colorado native Ronnie Weberg, aka Unlimited Gravity, has been making waves in the electronic music scene over the past year and most notably, was signed to 1320 Records - STS9's label - in 2013; releasing his newest LP, Unlimited, on the label. Today's song of the day is a long time coming. Boss Miller and Unlimited Gravity have known each other for quite some time while simultaneously living in Sioux Falls, South Dakota - don't hate, we have fun here - and have worked on projects together in the past. Glad to see the guys getting some well-deserved and long-awaited national attention! Unlimited Gravity and Project Aspect are currently finishing up their tour for a collaboration of theirs, Unlimited Aspect, with the final show on 3/1 in Denver at Cervantes' - we'll be giving away some tickets for that show on our facebook page over the next week :)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Synchronicity: Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon & The Wizard of Oz - Song of the Day [02/20/2014]

Long talked about, but often missed, the mythical synchronization of legendary rock album Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd and The Wizard of Oz.  I have tried this on a number of occasions, and always enjoyed the ride.  Well, here someone did the heavy lifting for you. I personally would have liked to have been able to hear some of the dialogue, but it's still cool...  Throw away all your expectations, just kick back, relax, watch the next 43 minutes of video and enjoy the ride to the Dark Side of the Rainbow.

Winter Warmer @ The Fillmore Auditorium in Denver (Review) [2-14-14]

Review By: Justin D'Amico

Last weekend Live Nation and Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom put on a big EDM concert called Winter Warmer at The Fillmore Auditorium in Denver. The Winter Warmer brought together a bunch of different artists and a good variety of musical EDM sub-genres. The Polish Ambassador, Wick-It The Instigator, and Michal Menert all threw down hard.

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom started the weekend off early last Thursday with a Winter Warmer pre-party showcasing Wick-It The Instigator. This was my first time seeing Wick-It live and he was awesome. Wick-It represents Nashville, Tennessee, but after a killer weekend in Denver he is considering moving out to Colorado. He was happy to share his first ever experience legally purchasing marijuana here on his trip to Denver. One way Wick-It sticks to his Nashville roots is with a killer trap remix of  the Johnny Cash song "Walk The Line". He also rocked a remix of C&C Music Factory's song "Everybody Dance Now" - needless to say, everybody did. Wick-It The Instigator did a great set for Winter Warmer pre-party at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom. 

Winter Warmer was my first time at The Fillmore Auditorium and I was impressed with the venue. The Fillmore Auditorium is a giant room with a lowered dance floor about the size of an NHL hockey rink. The dance floor is surrounded by another standing level and above certain sections of that middle level are balcony areas. The balcony at the very rear part of the room has a small seated section. When sitting in the back balcony seats you are about 300 feet from the stage, to give you an idea of how long the room is. For the Winter Warmer nearly the entire dance floor was full and bouncing all night.

The Winter Warmer fell on St. Valentines Day and a lot of love was in the air, love for electronic music and trippy visuals. The stage set up for most of Winter Warmer included a brilliant visual display using a high power projector and giant white fabric arches were the canvas. The stage setup mostly was provided by The Polish Ambassador, but the opening artists used it as well. The final version of the white arches wasn't revealed until just before The Polish Ambassador started. The white arches stage setup is a creation of Liminus, the excellent graphics specialist who accompanied The Polish Ambassador on stage for the Winter Warmer performance. The best visuals of the night came during a Polish Ambassador remix of Michael Jackson's "Beat It". For this song Liminus used a morphing image of all the different faces of Michael Jackson from his youth and progressing to later in his life. The Polish Ambassador and Liminus had incredible energy on stage which made the performance even more entertaining.

To close out the night was Denver native Michal Menert. For this show Michal Menert brought a live drummer, A.C. Lao, to play the beats. The majority of the set was a glitch hop flavor with some variations here and there. Michal Menert refers to his style of music as space jazz and that is a pretty good way of describing it. His beats are very chill with some interesting futuristic bass lines. Michal Menert is part of Pretty Lights Music the label founded by Derek Vincent Smith aka Pretty Lights. The crowd was going insane for Michal Menert, he is definitely loved in his home town. Michal Menert was superb live and a great closer for the Winter Warmer. 

The Floozies Take Over Sioux Falls Tonight With A Ton More Cities On Their Agenda!

The Floozies are producer/guitarist Matt Hill and drummer Mark Hill. These two brothers are bringing their fresh approach to electronic music and live performance to venues and festivals all over the country. The duo's combination of cutting edge electronic production and party rocking funk energizes crowds and turns venues into epic dance parties. All of The Floozies music can be downloaded for free from They have an insane list of cities coming up on their tour! Check them out HERE.

Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival Initial Lineup Announced!

Another killer lineup by Bonnaroo, why would we expect anything less?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

World Class Art Thieves - "Love 4 You" Song of the Day [2/19/14] (Free Download)

World CAT does it again, another straight banger. This duo delivers with a chill-trap mix with some sexy vocals. Turn this joint up and tell your friends.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Benjamin Briggs - "Trash FM" (Song of the Day) [2-18-14]

Benjamin Briggs is one of my favorite people as well as an amazing music producer. He creates original songs and incredible video game remixes. Ben also has a popular channel on where he plays video games and interacts with viewers. He is hilarious and very witty, which makes his show rather entertaining. For special episodes Ben produces music live and gives a sort of tutorial of how he creates music. "Trash FM" is my favorite track by Benjamin Briggs, it is a prime example of his brilliant chiptune music. For more Benjamin Briggs downloads you can go to his official website here And make sure to check out his live stream on here.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Nine Inch Nails - "Hurt" (Live: Beside you in Time) - Song of the Day - (2/17/14)

"Hurt" is a song written by Trent Reznor, first released on Nine Inch Nails' 1994 album The Downward Spiral. Originally recorded by Nine Inch Nails, the song "Hurt" has been adapted and covered by several artists, including Johnny Cash, Steve Hogarth (Marillion) and Leona Lewis. The song clearly includes references to self-harm and heroin addiction, although the overall meaning of the song is disputed. Some listeners contend that the song acts as a suicide note written by the album's protagonist, as a result of his depression, while others claim that it describes the difficult process of finding a reason to live in spite of depression and pain.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Big Gigantic's The Night Is Young Tour @ The District in Sioux Falls, SD - 2/12/14 (review)

A Review By: Troy Manley
South Dakota obviously isn't on the radar for many people as the place to be to catch the hottest shows. Hell, most of America probably doesn't realize that people actually live here. But luckily for us South Dakotans, Sioux Falls has been on Big Gigantic's radar for quite some time, making their 3rd appearance in our quaint city on Wednesday night - simultaneously kicking off their Winter 2014 tour in support of the brand new LP, The Night is Young. Big Gigantic's third appearance unquestionably sported the most respectable venue in Sioux Falls for a talent of their magnitude, The District - while the first 2 went down in makeshift bar/nightclubs in town. The District opened its doors to Sioux Falls residents in the Fall of 2013, and has a capacity around 1,500.

The venue is in the parking lot of the Sioux Empire Mall - which happens to be the largest single story mall in America - just off Interstate i-29. The District sports a fairly large standing area with a balcony with some more general admission space and a couple VIP booths. The stage is easily viewable from all parts of the floor, I didn't venture to the heavens above as there was plenty of room get down on the ground level.
After arriving fairly early, my friends and I hung out around with they had a DJ playing some music on what seemed to be the worst sound system on earth. I was scared for my life at this point having heard the sound coming from the stage. Luckily things improved once they switched to over to the direct support for the night, Manic Focus. This Chicago talent has been making waves in the electronic dance world in recent months by playing one kickass show after another. I happened across this dude playing at the small "Forest Stage" nestled in a corner of  Sherwood Forest at Electric Forest last summer and have been a believer since. This show marked his 2nd appearance in Sioux Falls, having destroyed a headlining show at a questionable venue last fall. Manic Focus is simply a beast behind the controls, and as Ty Allen has said: "Whether it’s an abrasive arpeggio, or a wave of whimsical wobbles, his ability to subtly inject sultry sound is undeniable." Definitely check this dude out if he hits your city.

The main headliners for the night, Big Gigantic, is the duo consisting of Dominic Lalli (Saxophone/Producer) and Jeremy Salken (Drums). Hailing from Boulder, Colorado and making the national stage their home, Big G is known for their high-energy live performances and bad-ass light shows. After taking the stage, the guys stood between an immaculate stage set up consisting of powerful lights and large high-powered LED squares that dominated all the space they had. They came out swinging and masterfully worked their way through tracks off their new album and classics. Notably, they played: "Clvdbvrst," "Fantastic," "Nocturnal," "From Death to Dawn," "Sky High," "Touch the Sky," "Aftershock," and one of my personal favorites, "I Need A Dollar."  Dominic and Jeremy played with a precision 2nd to none the entire show and flawlessly executed their goal of making the crowd dance. Hands down the best show I had seen in Sioux Falls, the venue was rocking the entire night - so I think most would agree. With a ton of dates left on their current tour, you CANNOT miss Big G if they come to a city near you! Find Tour dates: HERE.

All photos taken by Troy Manley on an iPhone 5.

Gary Clark Jr. - "Bright Lights" Song of the Day [2/16/14]

Having a rough day? Enjoy a heavy dose of      
guitar and all your problems will float away.
Gary Clark Jr. has some serious skills and this
is one jam that has a little bit of everything.
Sit back relax and enjoy.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Shlohmo & Jeremih - "No More" - Song of the Day [2/15/2014] [FREE DOWNLOAD]

In the spirit of Valentine's Weekend, today's Song of the Day comes from two versatile artists who just recently started collaborating. No More, the most recent work by Shlohmo and Jeremih, is a dark, ominous bass-heavy 4 am come-down tune, with slow vibes and sensual-but-off vocals. Shlohmo starts the tune off with some trippy synth melodies and a low frequency trap bassline. With a mix of classic and exotic percussion, Shlohmo develops a versatile playing field for Jeremih to sing over. When Jeremih's ghostly vocals come in, the dark vibe is enhanced with much more flavor. During the middle of the song, after the hook, Shlohmo does his signature vocal warping where he takes Jeremih's vocals and pitch shifts them up and down to create movement. Overall, No More is a flawless tune, representing the dark facet of R&B. Expect more tunes like this one off Shlohmo and Jeremih's upcoming EP.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Electric Forest Initial Artist Wave Announced!

Hell Yes.

Umphrey's McGee w/ STS9 - "Let's Dance" Live from Chicago 8.17.2013 - Song of the Day - (2/14/14)

Umphrey's McGee and Sound Tribe went on tour together at the end of last summer and I was lucky enough to catch their stop in Chicago. As if the night couldn't have gotten any better seeing two of my favorite bands in the same night, Umphrey's invited STS9 on stage for the final song of the their encore and played a killer cover David Bowie's "Let's Dance." Let's relive this over, and over, and over. :)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Scott Hardkiss "Feet" - Song of the Day [2/13/2014]

San Francisco area Legend and one of the god fathers of the '90s rave scene, Scott Hardkiss (born Scott Friedel), passed away nearly a year ago at the age of 43.  He was truly one of the visionary producers of his generation and a loss to us all.  Commonly associated with his (non-biological) brothers Gavin and Robbie Hardkiss, their collaborations were underground rave gold.  This track, with all of it's groovy and odd sounds, is simply one of my favorites.  Not familiar with his stuff?  Check it all out on Soundcloud.  How can you not love the frogs, a personal favorite...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Papadosio - "We Are Water" (7/9/13 - Dragon Stage - Thornville OH) Song of the Day [2/12/14]

Blending the lines between electronic and jam band, Papadosio has been entertaining crowds for years. With a plethora of festival appearances coming up this summer, constantly moving up on the docket, this is one band you have to check out. Let this smooth melodic jam with a very thought inducing vocal track take control.

Emancipator Ensemble w/ODESZA & Real Magic @ Concord Music Hall - Chicago, IL - 1/31/14 (Review)

Event Review: Emancipator Ensemble + ODESZA & Real Magic at the Concord Music Hall, Chicago- Jan. 31st, 2014.

Review By: Joe LeBeau
Ilya Goldberg (left) and Doug Appling (right) of Emancipator

With the first month of 2014 behind us, let’s all take a moment to appreciate how much change and growth can transpire in just one short year: strangers become friends, lovers become stalkers, baby-faced Bieber becomes a baby-faced douche - although that one may have been a long time coming. For Doug Appling, aka Emancipator, 2013 was a year of major growth and achievements. When I first saw Emancipator almost exactly one year ago, it was in front of a crowd of no more than 100 people at Chicago’s Bottom Lounge.

Fast forward just 6 months to June 2013 when I had the immense pleasure of seeing him perform at Electric Forest’s largest stage (Sherwood Court) - a show my editor considers the best single set he has ever seen, then consider the fact that this past Friday the Emancipator Ensemble sold out the Concord Music Hall (listed capacity is 700-1600) in Chicago and you’ll appreciate how much the music of Emancipator has grown in popularity and recognition while garnering a diverse and passionate fan base in just one year.

The full Emancipator Ensemble
The event sold out early afternoon on the day of the show and when I arrived at the Concord somewhere around 9pm not a single scalper was in sight, though many hopefuls could be found wandering the parking lot and entrance line in search of spare tix. I completed the security/ticket check/coat check ritual just in time for the start of ODESZA’s set. The West coast-based electronic duo have an approach to music that combines catchy hip-hop percussion beats, glitchy vocals with layers of some quite beautiful electronic melodies. Their whole sound feels upbeat and bouncy yet dreamy all at once, and they definitely delivered these sensations and more during their live set.

As I found a spot on the floor close enough to the stage for a good look, which isn’t too difficult at the Concord, one of the first things I noticed was how incredibly down the people around me were getting. I mentioned before that the sounds of ODESZA have an upbeat and bouncy vibe to them, and as I looked around at my fellow patrons of the arts I was struck by how the whole crowd was literally bouncing in unison, which is definitely a good indication of the performance. Highlights from the set include their hit jam “iPlayYouListen”, two unreleased tracks that sounded unbelievable and an encore performance of “My Friends Never Die” off their recent EP by the same title.
Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight of ODESZA

I think there’s something to be said for having an energizing opening act for a downtempo headliner, as the combination of ODESZA into the Emancipator Ensemble was a winner in my book, as the former set the tone and energy beautifully for the dancy drum beats and soaring soundscapes of Emancipator. Performing with a live band is becoming more prevalent in electronically produced music as of late, most notably with Pretty Lights’ AnalogFuture Tour in the Fall of 2013, and I can’t imagine a better candidate for a live band performance than Emancipator. To the uninformed listener, his studio albums sound closer to a full band than a single producer, so the live ensemble seems like a logical evolution for Doug Appling’s music.

The Ensemble featured Appling on guitar, the familiar face of Ilya Goldberg on violin, Colby Buckler on percussion and an unnamed virtuoso rocking the bass, all performing in front of a beautifully understated stage production that featured tall, skinny parallel screens depicting a sunny, cloudy sky rolling past- an ideal backdrop to the nature-esque music being played. The Ensemble opened with “Lionheart” from Soon it Will be Cold Enough, and shortly after really got the audience moving with their popular single “Elephant Survival” and the song’s addictive drum beats and ethereal flute riffs.
Goldberg and Appling, lost in music.

From there, the performance was a perfectly concocted mix of songs off all three studio albums- Safe in the Steep Cliffs, Soon it Will Be Cold Enough, and, most recently, Dusk to Dawn- plus a couple very well received unreleased tracks to give us die-hard fans some new Emancipator to eagerly look forward to. The performance seemed to stand still in time, as one song flew so seamlessly into the next it was hard to keep track of them all, even to a seasoned fan like myself. The crowd was pleasantly diverse in age and backgrounds, and positivity and goodwill abounded amongst the enchanted, swaying showgoers.

The music’s enchantment was momentarily broken as Appling & Co. left the stage for their customary pseudo-exit and eager cries for “one more song” instantly arose throughout the venue. The good men of the Ensemble only left us hanging for a few seconds before re emerging to jubilant cheers and beginning what would be a three-song encore with the iconic Emancipator song “Anthem”, a fitting end to a beautifully crafted performance. I arrived at the Concord many hours earlier with high expectations for one of my favorite minds in music today, and Doug and his Ensemble far exceeded all of them in what was, from a passionate fan’s perspective, a flawless performance.

The Emancipator Ensemble Tour continues across the East and West Coasts through April, and if there’s a tour stop within a day’s drive of you I cannot stress enough how dearly you need to get out to see the Ensemble!

Some live footage we snagged at their stop the next day in Minneapolis: