WRITTEN BY: ERIN BLEWETT
On April 9, I enjoyed a visit with the spirit of my music taste’s past when I went to the Electric Factory to see the jazz-electronica duo, Big Gigantic.
Dressed in a wool trench coat and a knitted scarf, I felt a little out of place among all of the underage girls in booty shorts and crop tops, but I rationalized my outfit choice with the fact that Philadelphia had just endured its first snow of the spring season.
I used to be an EDM junkie back in high school, although I don’t recall quite as many girls with selfie sticks at the shows back then, one thing that hadn’t changed was the welcoming PLUR atmosphere. As soon as I walked in, I was greeted with a lollipop and a voter registration form. So, props to the Electric Factory, because according to a sign hung at the entrance, “voting is saxy.”
The first group to take the stage was, Horizon Wireless, a New York based duo. Their genre is self-described on their Facebook page as “multi-genre dance music for the mind, body, and soul.” Harrison Waxenberg was mixing while Daniel Lyons was playing the drums.
It was a good way to start the show, Waxenberg mixed a lot of deep house with popular songs like Sage The Gemini’s, “Gas Pedal,” which drew in what little crowd was present at the time.
In between sets, I was approached by a concertgoer who attached a clothespin to my scarf with the words, “get funky,” scribbled on the side in red sharpie. It was a quirky interaction, but a perfect way to transition into the next set, which definitely had a funky vibe.
Wax Future, a duo straight out of Philadelphia, brought an energy to the stage that hadn’t been present before. Keith Wadsworth played a synth guitar while Connor Hansell mixed and occasionally picked up an on-hand bass guitar. Their style was rooted in electronic music like every other group in the lineup, but there were strong elements of hip-hop and funk in most of their songs.
Wadsworth had the crowd in the palm of his hand as he flashed his electrifying smile and tossed around his mane of waist-length red hair. He was the picture of rock n’ roll each time he placed one leg up on a speaker to perform one of his epic guitar solos. An odd but satisfying sight at what I assumed was just going to be another typical rave.
Next up was Jeffrey Melvin, a 19-year-old producer who goes by the stage name “Melvv.” He opened his set with the Cashmere Cat remix of “Do You” by Miguel. This was a promising start. If I hadn’t had any prior knowledge of electronic music, I would have described the rest of his set as “mainstream noise.” Undoubtedly, he had both production and mixing talent, but just like him, his set was all over the place.
He was jumping around for the majority of his hour-long set. Whether this was because of nerves or youthful energy, I can’t say. His set consisted of trap beats, deep house, melodic dubstep, jersey club, big house, and repeated usage of the infamous bed squeak sample because, why not? For me, it was hard to keep up with, but the energy radiating from the crowd was proof enough that I was the only one in the room with that problem. Melvv is at the tail end of his North American Tour, which ends on April 22 at Coachella, so he is obviously doing something right.
At this point in the night, say around 11 p.m., a cloud of vape smoke hung low over the crowd and the security guards looked increasingly displeased as the young crowd grew progressively rowdier.
Chicago-based duo, Louis The Child, took the stage after Melvv. At first, their sound was near identical to that of popular electronic music artist, Flume. This impression was validified after they played the Flume remix of Hermitude’s “Hyperparadisce.” The boys, Robby Hauldren and Freddy Kennet, both of whom must have been in their late teens seemed to be having a lot of fun performing. They provided the crowd with constant commentary and frequently coordinated dance moves. Though, soon after their promising start, the set was devoid of any Flume influences, replaced with a slew of pop songs mixed over original beats.
None of the groups thus far in the night had been able to replicate the stage presence of Wax Future – that is until Big Gigantic hit the stage.
The most anticipated act of the night did not disappoint. Two silhouettes walked on stage illuminated by the massive grid of lights that had been sitting dormant for the entirety of the night. The duo- hailing out of Boulder, Colorado possessed the calm confidence of veteran performers.
Their set quite literally blew me away. The bass exploding from the monstrous speakers adorning the stage made it remarkably hard to hold my camera still, and I was genuinely fearful that I would rupture an eardrum standing that close to the source of the music. Despite the overwhelming amount of sensory stimulation, their set had an artistic quality to it that I am struggling to describe. With Dominic Lalli on production and saxophone, and Jeremy Salken on the drums, there was no mistaking the talent of these two musicians. Their style was reminiscent of classic bass heavy dubstep with elements of jazz and hip-hop that were similar to that of Wax Future, but far more dominant throughout their set. It was obvious who most of the crowd had shown up for when Big Gigantic played their hit song, “The Little Things,” and the crowd excitedly sang along.
Lalli and Stalken never wavered in their energy, but it was easy to see the effort necessary for the performance based off of the clearly visible masks of sweat that each performer wore by the end of their set. The pair played for an impressive two hours, keeping the crowd engaged until the 2 a.m. conclusion of their performance. Waiting three and a half hours for their set was well worth it, and I would happily do it again.
It was fun to jump back into a now foreign musical environment that had once been home to my high school self, but now I will happily return to my niche in the Indie music world – that is until Big Gigantic makes another appearance in the City of Brotherly Love. The Electric Factory is always a delight with its ever-present easy-going atmosphere, and I suggest that you all keep an eye out for the next time Big Gigantic comes to Philly.