ODESZA, Whethan and co. brought the party

Author: David Heinrich

Madison was truly blessed with electronic music this past Friday night. The evening got started at the Alliant Energy Center, where ODESZA was headlining. The crowd came early for the openers, and both Kasbo and Sofi Tukker played great sets to get the crowd ready. Kasbo treated the crowd to some chill beats. His set was criminally short, as everyone was vibing with the Swedish artist. He brought a multi-instrumentalist setup with him, flipping between his computer, a couple different drum machines, and a guitar. It was the last night of the tour for him, and Madison sent him off well. Sofi Tukker took the stage next, and transported the Madison crowd to a dance hall in Ibiza. The duo took the stage and got the crowd’s attention right away. They started off inquisitively and enthusiastically, asking the Madison crowd “are you guys ready to dance?” Boy, was Madison ready to dance. Their set featured house music with a distinct and sultry Latin influence. Driving beats, guitar, and plenty of tropical percussion (played from a palm tree shaped drum in the middle of the stage) made it seem like we were in the middle of a rave in the rainforest. However, as fun as Kasbo and Sofi Tukker were, they were just prelude for the main act, ODESZA.

The arena was packed for ODESZA, and they didn’t disappoint. They played a long set and touched on a lot of their material. The show was dominated by their new album A Moment Apart, but they played fan-favorites from across their discography. Some highlights were the ethereal and majestic “Corners of the Earth” and their closer, “Sun Models”. They did something really interesting with their songs, opting to play part of them as they appeared on the record and part of them remixed somehow. It was really refreshing to see them rework and reimagine their own material and explore different spheres of electronic music. They branched out from their “chill” brand and played a set that had everything from light house to heavy trap. ODESZA really took it up a notch with their light show. They took the Madison crowd from a space station orbiting Earth to the center of an erupting volcano. For every song, it seemed like the imagery accompanying it fit the music perfectly. Another element of the show that really wowed me was the live instrumentation. ODESZA was accompanied by brass musicians that made their synths and melodies really soar. A guitarist with a violin’s bow was a welcome surprise, producing a unique, celestial sound that blew me away. The real kicker was the ODESZA drumline: 8 talented percussionists that took it to another level. Their rhythms were perfectly synched, as if the whole drumline had one mind controlling it. They topped it off with plenty of antics and tricks, from precarious drumstick throws to mind-boggling collaborative sections where individual drummers seemed to be playing their drum and two others in unison. It was truly a spectacle with a lot of different dimensions, and I won’t be missing ODESZA next time they return to Madison.

After a long ride, we arrived at the Majestic for Whethan’s Good Nights Tour. I was hyped for Whethan, but as I walked in, I stumbled across Ashe. She was the first opening act. She shared a mix of bouncy synth-pop and danceable EDM that reinvigorated the crowd. She was very casual on stage and had an infectious energy and a positive vibe that seemed to rub off on everyone there. The next act, Saint Wknd, got the crowd moving as well. His set was more of a traditional DJ set, mixing his German club-influenced originals with popular bangers. At times it trended towards some really heavy bass, which resonated with the diverse EDM crowd.

Whethan was ready to take the stage after that, and the Majestic crowd was fiending for the most anticipated act. He entered to raucous applause, and played a crowd-pleasing set. There wasn’t a low point in the set: Whethan did a great job of keeping our dials set to 10 the whole time. I especially loved his remix of “Perfect Places” by Lorde, which was evident after I realized I was one of the few singing along to that one (perhaps a bit too loudly). However, this was the kind of show where letting loose and singing your heart out was highly encouraged. The best moment of the evening came when Whethan played his hit songs, notably “I’m Down”, “Good Nights”, and “Can’t Hide”. For “Can’t Hide” he was joined onstage by Ashe, who is the featured vocalist on the song. Their chemistry and friendship was clear. It was a heartwarming moment for the two young artists, and fitting way to close a great evening of live music.