On Sunday night, the Shrine Auditorium played host to “Finger Lickin’” with Chuckie and Showtek — the first concert resulting from the partnership of music promotion giant Goldenvoice and electronic dance promoters LED (my Life Every Day). The high-energy performances, featuring five different acts with a variety of electronic dance roots, gave USC students the opportunity to experience an expertly-produced EDM show within walking distance to end the long weekend on a high note.
Back in November, Billboard broke news of the collaboration between San Diego-based LED and Goldenvoice, which puts on the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and operates several famed Los Angeles venues like the Fonda Theatre, Club Nokia and the Nokia Theatre under the branches of entertainment giant AEG. Ever since, EDM fans in SoCal have been figuratively drooling over the possibilities opened up by letting LED, which has successfully sold the sounds of acts such as Dada Life and Boys Noize to the California market, produce shows in some of the state’s most celebrated settings.
As a large part of the audience filled with 20-somethings was still filing in, Turkish tech-trance pioneer Ummet Ozcan kicked off the show with a wide-ranging setlist that surprisingly featured remixes of a couple mid-2000s nu metal throwbacks in Evanescence’s “Bring Me to Life” and Linkin Park’s “Numb.”
As the floor of the warehouse-like setting began to fill up, Ozcan dropped his biggest club hit to date, “Revolution,” a collaboration with Australian duo NERVO and previous USC Welcome Back Concert performer R3hab. The synth-fueled track, urging listeners to “start a revolution,” cranked up the set’s tempo as hundreds of flashing multi-colored light sticks held by dancing fans bounced along to the beat.
Scandinavian duo Pegboard Nerds (Alexander Odden and Michael Parsberg) kept the energy going, smoothly transitioning Ozcan’s final song into “Razor Sharp,” their smash house single. Other highlights included an extended mix of Krewella’s “Alive” that segued into “Get Low” by Dillon Francis and the emerging DJ Snake, a bass-heavy trap track with an Arabian-moomba drop released just last week.
The set marked the first U.S. tour date of the DJs’ three-month North American tour, and both were clearly motivated to start their rendezvous through the States with a high-energy performance. Odden, especially, was clearly feeding off the liveliness of the crowd. After a foam glowstick was lobbed at the pair from the pit, the shaggy-haired Norwegian grinned and pointed at the guilty party before dancing around with it for the team’s last few minutes on stage.
By the time Los Angeles resident TJR (TJ Rozdilsky) took over at 10:45, the soon-to-be sticky dance floor had filled up — and he turned the volume up accordingly, creating a deafening reverberation of sound that had yet to be achieved to that point. TJR teased Benny Benassi’s classic “Satisfaction” before scratching back the record and weaving into Steve Aoki’s frantic electro house track “Sooo Freakin.”
The San Diego native, who rose to prominence with his 2012 chant-along hit “Ode to Oi,” mixed several crowd-pleasers into his playlist. After turning off the massive lightboard displaying psychedelic graphics behind him in favor of thin green lasers that formed a translucent layer between the two floors, he dropped MIA’s “Paper Planes” to a loud “ooh” from an appreciative crowd. TJR then treated spectators to an infusion of DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s “Turn Down for What,” which will probably be obligatorily played at every major EDM show in 2014, into Deorro’s Melbourne bounce single “Yee” before closing out with a syrupy-slow trap remix of Ginuwine’s “Pony.”
By this time, the Shrine’s setup offered two options — stay on the sweltering ground floor surrounded by flying hands and heaving chests, or retreat to the top floor for a cooler, but less intimate, experience. When Showtek took the stage at 11:30 p.m., the vast majority of the concert-goers revealed their preference for the former, with scores of females clambering onto their friends’ shoulders for a better look at the Dutch brothers (Sjoerd and Wouter Janssen).
Six bursting clouds of smoke at the forefront of the stage announced the arrival of Showtek, who immediately blasted into its electro house single “We Like to Party.” The pair went on to premiere a new song midway through the set after encouraging everyone in attendance to take out their phones and record the track.
Though it was difficult to make out the announced title of the song, it was impossible to miss its booming bass that created a grimier feel than most of the brothers’ work. When the anticipated drop came, dozens of white beach ball-sized balloons dropped from the ceiling, which beautifully illuminated different colors upon passing through the sheet of lasers skimming over the crowd.
As Showtek finished up, a robotic voice foretold the arrival of Chuckie (Clyde Narain): “Welcome to a world of dirty dance.” A countdown from 10 then preceded the headliner’s entrance, when the voice made its final statement: “Dirty f****** beats” — followed by the night’s main headliner treating the crowd to just that.
A sampling of Fatboy Slim’s “Eat Sleep Rave Repeat” gained a roar of approval as the jumping mass belted out the refrain in unison, reflecting the rise of a lifestyle and music genre that would have had difficulty filling the Shrine Auditorium 10 years ago. But on this night, Chuckie showcased the prevalence of EDM in the mainstream and its ability to synthesize other genres into club bangers, transitioning Coldplay’s “Paradise” into Zedd’s crossover hit “Stay the Night” before going directly into a trap remix of Ace Hood’s hip-hop anthem “Bugatti.”
Oftentimes, EDM concerts save the closing set for a DJ who favors a slower tempo and utilizes less of the buildups and drops that have come to characterize the genre in order to wind the crowd down. Chuckie, however, showed no interest in easing his fans out the exits, unloading vicious drop after drop on a more than welcoming audience.
The only instance Chuckie came close to coaxing the crowd into relaxation was at the conclusion of his performance, when he asked everyone to sit down on the floor — only to bring them back up with “What Happens in Vegas,” the magnum opus of the “Dirty Dutch” genre he’s credited with developing. Apparently intent on going out with a bang, Chuckie’s signature high-pitched lead synth in “Vegas” did nothing to soothe the crowd as he departed the DJ platform.
The crowd meandered around for several minutes after the lights came up, hoping Chuckie would relent to the chants for “One more song!” and delay the recovery process from four-plus hours of non-stop energy coursing through the venue.
But there was nothing more to experience at the Shrine on this night. In its wake was countless empty water bottles, dead glowsticks and a few abandoned articles of clothing — the signs of a successful EDM partnership between Goldenvoice and LED.