With some people in full fairy costume, with light-up capes, glowing sunglasses and multicolored luminescent balloons floating through the crowd, most were there to rave, emphatically bouncing with every vibration of the ubiquitous bass.
Odesza, made up of Harrison Mills (previously CatacombKid) and Clayton Knight (BeachesBeaches), has only been playing together since 2012. Yet there we were Friday night at the Detroit Masonic Temple in a jam-packed, sold-out theater where every person knew every song. The show was insane — a sonic, visual and tactile trip.
In a phone interview with The Michigan Daily before the show, Mills described Odesza’s show last year opening for GRIZ at Masonic as “one of the hypest shows we’ve ever played.” Emphasizing the possibilities the Masonic’s stage offered for visuals, Mills said he couldn’t imagine what playing a headline show there would be like — well, it was incredible.
Like I said, only a year ago Odesza opened for GRIZ, but if the two were to play a show together now it might be the other way around.
“To a lot of people it’s really fast climbing, but it’s kind of felt like a slow progression to me,” Mills said. “Especially in the last year it’s been a rapid rise.”
That seems fair to say, seeing as just a few months ago the only song my alternative music friends and I knew was their most popular “Say My Name,” which is now only one of many tracks people would be able to reel off. Their wide-ranging fan base has to be one of the main reasons for such a surge in popularity. Odesza has been, for me, an offshoot of several artists on the edge of more mainstream EDM genres: minimal techno like Nicolas Jaar, synthfolk like Bibio or more serene-upbeat French electronica like Mome or Petit Biscuit.
But the crowd on Friday in Detroit was not there for a serenely introspective jam sesh. They were there to party. This taught me something about shows: you take the wildest subset of an artist’s fan base, and that will make up the vast majority of the crowd. I probably should have known that from the time I got knocked around by some moshing metalheads at the Smashing Pumpkins a couple years ago, but hey, nobody’s perfect.
Warming up the crowd was Jai Wolf, who generally had a pretty mellow stage presence but played some good mixes of CHVRCHES’s “Mother We Share” and Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” then finished with his own dreamy “Indian Summer.” After Jai Wolf was Rufus du Sol, an Australian trio more focused on vocals than either Jai Wolf or Odesza, but who really made the audience move.
Everyone went crazy when Odesza came onstage. Both Mills and Knight had their own controllers and drums, sometimes bringing up a guitarist, a trombone and a trumpet player. But the coolest part of the set was the combination of sounds, lights and animation that was playing on the five-paneled screen behind the artists.
The visuals ranged from gold-painted women to this really cool dyed red and blue vapor (or something), but the sweetest one was this anime compilation that lasted for a few mixes, including their older “IPlayYouListen” and the newer “Kusanagi.” This makes sense, since Kusanagi is the name of the main character in the acclaimed 1995 anime “Ghost in the Shell.”
The highlight of the show, though, was for “Say My Name,” which involved an explosion of lights and confetti pouring from the ceiling. The crowd was ecstatic, and that just showed how focused on the crowd Odesza was. They thanked us several times throughout the night for being there and being excited. Positivity and gratitude were definitely a focus for the duo through the past couple years touring and making new music, according to Mills.
“It’s always still positive, which I think helped us so much,” he said. “It’s really felt like opportunities are ahead of us.” It doesn’t seem like their rise is going to let up any time soon.