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Flume has been one of my favorite producers ever since I caught ahold of his work a couple years ago on a blog I follow. Buried in the emergence of trap and the lingerings of electro it was very refreshing to hear some soulful unique and upbeat productions from a teenager on the other side of the planet. Last week I was lucky enough to be able to catch him live in Vermont, so I brought my camera and a couple of friends to Higher Ground in South Burlington for what I anticipated to be a good production.
The hype for this show was unreal, it sold out easily a month in advance and tickets day of show were being sold and bought for $100 and up! This to me was highly unexpected, given the type of music Flume produced and the crowds that usually populate electronic showcases at Higher Ground I expected probably a ¾ sell. This however is due to the fact that most people attending the show, given what they were wearing and how they were acting, probably had no idea who Flume was a week prior to purchasing a ticket, and it probably went something like this…
Breh 1: “Hey bro you going to Flume?”
Breh 2: *finishes shotgunning Heady Topper* “Nah man, what’s that”
Breh 1: “DUDE, he’s sick. Fucking tours with Skrillex and shit, gonna be a sick show”
Breh 2: “Fuck yeah, i’m down lets go”
Breh 1 & 2: consume as many drugs as possible and go to a show they had just heard about.
I think you can probably get a good understanding of the crowd that populated the venue that night, an overzealous mob of fucked up 20 somethings ready to go as hard as possible for a show that ended at 11:30pm on a Wednesday that showcased a producer who makes in my opinion, some pretty chill music. It was actually amusing to watch the crowd sway back and forth in an almost frustrated anticipation of something to come but never reveals itself, only a gentle tease of glitchy, funky and tropical tunes played at a bumpin’ 120bpm.
One thing that made the experience somewhat awful was the level that the security team had taken things that evening. Walking in you couldn’t miss the elite squad of HG security dragging out patrons by the dozen and chucking them to the curb for violating the loose “intoxication rule”. Almost like the scene from the original “Planet of the Apes”, the security like the armored gorillas in the classic film trudged through the crowd and hunted down the bewildered Flumers with military force. I watched helplessly from the side lines as the massive primates lassoed the cladly dressed humans as they scurried for their lives. I feel I have been desensitized to the spectacle, being of age and with the basic understanding that a concert isn’t an open invitation to consume drugs in public I have never felt the full wrath of the HG crack security team. But that night the unrestrained actions of the HG staff felt unusually nauseating. I watched as they approached people from behind grabbing girls and guys alike by the neck, arms, shoulders, torso and removing them from the show like correctional officers breaking up a fight in a prison cafeteria. One poor girl with large X’s on her hands was handed a see through cup when she asked for a plain Red Bull, the see through cups are reserved for alcohol, she was supposed to have a red cup. Not 15 seconds after she was handed the cup a bouncer at least 6’3”, came up and spun her around by the shoulder, knocked the cup to the ground and dragged the poor crying girl to the door and jettisoned her through the exit . This girl probably weighed 100lbs soaking wet and was physically assaulted for a mistake made by the bartender, she was kicked out and when I spoke to her later on she had bruises on her arms and legs from the incident. I believe it is unnecessary to state that it was very contradicting to see such escalated security measures for a showcase that features laid back music. Anyway, lets get to the music.
After snapping a few photos I posted up on the elevated back bar to observe the show from a safe distance. The production quality of this show was absolutely top notch! A huge high def LED panel hung behind the main DJ booth which was flanked on either side with a dazzling collection of festival grade stage lights, lasers and strobes. Directly in front of the DJ booth was a really cool irregular hexagonal box covered in what I believe were a mix of strobes and LEDs that really gave some dimension to the stage. Having a view from the balcony I don’t think I have seen a DJ booth with as many gadgets as Flume had, MPCs, APCs, mixers, sound cards, I think I saw a total of 3 laptops? maybe more? A large drum pad and countless other music makin’ mechanisms. It was almost as if he brought his production studio with him to the show. The lighting and visuals were masterful, the techs running the mechanics of the show must of had more experience than Flume had years on this planet. An A+ on production, that is indisputable.
As far as performance went, I was a little, meh. With such a heavy reliance on an over polished lights production there wasn’t much room for artistic navigation, it was so plainly obvious and rehearsed that it hurt. Lightning crashes on the visualizer matched with highs and lows of the songs and symbol/snare crashes, timed hits on the drum pad as well as the long drawn out transitions made for a great sight to see, but an all to apparent rehearsed and unoriginal set. I was really hoping to hear a raw performance, something with a little danger to it, but alas this is something of a rarity at most shows coming this way. The song selections were weak, Flume rinsed out a few tracks that were 2-3 years old, and played pretty much right from his own collections of tunes, I really appreciate his production but having a little bit more diversity in song selection would go a long way.
In summation the crowd had no idea what was going on, HG has officially made me sick to my stomach,and Flume while giving us a fantastic display of light and sound engineering, fell a kangaroos legs length short of being something outstanding.
Overall rating: B+