Detroit’s Masonic Temple was popping off on Thursday night. Hoards of young, drunk, bejeweled humans flew past me as I glided through the foyer and into the theater aisles. I tried and failed to sneak into the pit, so I squeezed into one of the few remaining empty seats.
Channel Tres was already on stage, alone, jumping around and talk-rapping over his thumping house-music beats. I was pretty bummed about not being in the pit. I was instead relegated to a cozy theater chair, when all I really wanted to do was mosh and vibe to some bumps, on my feet, surrounded by dancing human beings. And who were my fellow theater-seaters? They were loud, but not singing along — they were just yapping away, chatting with friends as if this was just another club and this was just another guy, showing us some beats he cooked up in his basement.
But Tres is not just another guy. Tres is an artist, pushing the boundaries of both rap and electronic pop by seamlessly merging the two genres with hit songs like “fuego (feat. Tyler, The Creator)” and “Topdown.” He is also the master of the indie-rap feature, completely stealing the show on songs like “Tunnel” by Polo & Pan and “Palms (with Channel Tres)” by Gus Dapperton. He deserved more than the “Chatty Cathy” audience at Masonic Temple.
And then came Flume.
Flume has been bridging the gap between pop and the techno-sphere for a while now. He’s a seasoned performer, having headlined Coachella, The Governors Ball and most everything in between since his self-titled breakout 2012 album. And with that seasoning should come the DJ spice, right? Lifting arms on the beat, pushing buttons and, wait, what does a DJ do when they perform? Again, I started to feel some doubts about the whole situation: why was I seated at an electronic music concert when I could just listen to Flume’s songs on Spotify, maybe invite some friends, dance and drink some brews that don’t cost $12?
Usually Flume solves this potential problem by starting a crazy mosh pit, but again, that was not possible from my cozy seat. It also would have felt a little wrong to push and shove under the Broadway-esque decor of the venue, with stenciled ceilings and velvet curtains. He might have done better to perform at the Majestic Theater or Saint Andrews Hall, two of Detroit’s premier performance spaces, each equipped with an ample dance floor and an aptly dingy, club-like vibe.
Flume often spices up his shows with a host of surprise guests: Toro y Moi, Vince Staples or, in the case of the Masonic Temple concert, Tres and Tove Lo. Tove Lo came out to perform her single with Flume, “Say It (feat. Tove Lo),” but also took over the female vocals for “Never Be Like You (feat. Kai)” and “Say Nothing (feat. MAY-A.” These were by far the best performances of the set because, well, there was actually a performer on the stage, and not just a dude, bobbing up and down, pushing some damn buttons.
But those three songs were not enough to carry the performance, so I decided to improve the vibe with my own devices. In this case, that meant ripping my dab pen like a third grader destroying a juice box at snack time.
My newfound elevated state ended up working perfectly with Flume’s set. I was amazed to realize the stage lights were synced up to the beat (um, awesome), and I started thoroughly enjoying the vibration of the bass through my body.
I looked out at the crowd again, arms raised, dancing along, not caring about their theater seats, or the pit, or the $12 drinks; they were just jamming to some absolute thumpers and having a great time on a Thursday night in Detroit.
So why was I being a Debbie Downer?
Whether velvet chair vibing, mosh pit mobbing or living room lounging, Flume makes amazing music, and it’s a pleasure to enjoy it however you can. So I decided to do just that. I drank my metaphorical juice box, moved my feet, soaked up the light show and smiled.
It was a lovely time.
Daily Arts Writer Joshua Medintz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.