8/29/16 – House of Blues

10:19. The lights blared, illuminating a deafening audience.

10:20. A pulsing ambient mix of “Take a Chance” at 800% speed ceded into the resonant vocals of Skin’s opening track, “Helix.”

Flume, Australian Harley Streten, cast his shadow against a scrim teasing the audience, looping the vocals into a storm culminating with a singular, pounding bass note. A simple loop emerged, doubling in tempo with each pass. The notes churned together, echoed by a singular blue light flickering across the stage. Reaching its peak, the loop meshed into an almost otherworldly bass drop, grounded only by the sight of Streten and a perfectly-timed visual of crumbling stones. The scrim dropped and the energy magnified.

The precision and coherence of Flume’s new live show is an impeccable feat, fueled equally by the depth of his new album, Skin, and the unified visuals from collaborator Jonathan Zawada. Skin’s tracks are porous, melodic, and abrasive. These attributes coupled with expanded budgets and artistic insights converge for one of the world’s best electronic shows.

Flume by Becca Chairin

Flume by Becca Chairin

Triggering samples behind his space-ship-like controller, Flume remained in the driver’s seat from the first drop, further ensnaring his audience with classics like “Holdin’ On” and “Sleepless.”

Pausing briefly, he spoke into the microphone: “This spot, right here, last year.” The crowd roared in appreciation, but Flume’s overhauled set thoroughly departed from his June 2015 performance in every aspect. Transitioning into “Wall Fuck,” the abrasive, almost chaotic first single from Skin, Flume pulled his audience into an Arca-like performance, exploring textures instead of pursuing the next bass drop. Zawada’s ghastly shape shifting visuals bolstered the track and looked into experimental territory as Streten concluded with a demonic swirl of synths that elicited the depth that his previous performances lacked.

Swiftly moving into his signature remix of Lorde’s “Tennis Court,” Flume crunched the harsh noise into his signature clean rhythms. Looping into the skittering “Pika,” Flume’s production glowed. The skeletal boxes stacked beneath his synths and above his head flickered with each trigger, convincing the audience that Flume was in fact performing, an obstacle that many electronic artists confront today. This lighting synchronization and integration of Zawada’s simultaneously organic and mechanical images almost perfected the lacking live creation factor from his previous tour.

Flume capitalized on this production face-lift transitioning to his signature mix and edits of Rustie’s “Slasherr,” RL Grime’s “Core,” and Hermitude’s “HyperParadise.” While the production thoroughly compensated, Flume lost the live connection that he barely held in “Pika.”

Still, he quickly pulled it back, unleashing a succession of drum beats on “Free,” a reminder that Flume’s 2016 production simply transcends all electronic performances on tour today. While artists like Kaytranada, Snakehips, and Louis the Child hold their own at clubs and festivals, Flume has managed to cultivate every facet of electronic performance. That evening, the numerous bass drops, rainbow clad youth, and timed visuals muted the live factor, but Flume is no longer a DJ. He is a refined performer, armed with the art, visuals, and sonic depth to justify his spot “On Top.”

Organic, Electric: Flume
Pros
  • Exceptional setlist
  • Refined Visuals
Cons
  • Too orchestrated at points
9.1Electronic Bliss

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