For New Years Eve 2010-2011 Pretty Lights did a two night run at Chicago’s Congress Theater. OurVinyl was there for their show on the 30th, which featured Major Lazer. Major Lazer is comprised of the well-known Dj Diplo and, on this night, the Jamaican lyricist/hype-man Skerrit Bwoy. They describe their music as Americana / Black Metal / Reggae. However, while that description does shed some light on their musical attitude, if one hasn’t heard them before it probably only adds a bit of confusion. Their music is built on beats that are similar to thick-reggaed dubstep, with occasionally moving into what could be described as more minimal reggae/house, but with a live and highly repetitive front-man yelling out the lyrics and trying to always keep the crowd involved. And keep the crowd involved he did, never letting anyone lose their attention on the stage, and greatly helping to bridge the somewhat unvarying gap between song changes.
What was most apparent about Major Lazer’s show was the frank sexuality of it all. Instead of using electronic visualizers to keep their crowd entertained, they used live performers. There were 2 girls who were on stage the whole time, and did a lot more than just traditional club-dancing. Often they would sexually jump onto Skerrit Bwoy, occasionally from a ledge about 8 feet in the air, while he would lay down on the stage – or catch them on his hips (which was a pretty impressive feat actually). And one time Skerrit Bwoy decided to drop his pants (but not his boxers), and jump onto one of the girls, who laid down on the stage, and then basically hump her to the music. Ironically, they also brought out beautiful ballerina dancers, seemingly just to catch the audience off guard and give them something pleasantly unexpected to look at. At one point, a boy from the audience made his way on stage, only to be humped by one of the girls in a most flexible of ways. And while the music of Pretty Lights was more dynamic and entertaining to the average listener/attendee, the Major Lazer show was one worth seeing just for the wild novelty of it all.
Pretty Lights, on the other hand, does rely on electronic visualizers to enhance their show. And in the dark, but expansive, Congress Theater their visual show came off in a top notch manner. For those who don’t know, Pretty Lights is comprised of a live drummer (a very good one at that), and a DJ. Playing their brand of funky, hip-hop’ish, rave-friendly electronic music they immediately enthralled the crowd of 4500+ there to see them. And while it wasn’t New Years eve until the next day, one wouldn’t have been able to tell from the level of crowd energy present in Congress on this night.
Pretty Lights kept the musical momentum and energy at a high tempo, but they seemed to keep it at a relatively static tempo. For this author, their show at North Coast Fest this last autumn was much more dynamic, in terms of the level of energy and in the song choices and transitions. But one has to assume that they were just “leaving themselves some headroom”, so to say, for the next night – which of course needed to be the more celebratory of the two. Nonetheless they provided for a romper of a good dance party, as many times one could feel the floor of the balcony gyrate slightly under the force of the movement of the masses. These guys have a unique and good thing going for themselves, if they can learn to slightly widen the variety of their tempos and beat-patterns, while retaining their same level of passion/creativity – then their name will only continue to carry more and more weight in 2011 and beyond.
Written by Sean Brna
Photos by Max Rasche (check out more of his work here)