With the soaring popularity of EDM bookings and concerts, fans and promoters alike have begun seeking acts to provide more than just a press play experience. While massive lighting rigs and stage production are still a draw, many fans have begun to desire a more involved concert experience than a single DJ mixing a set.
This demand for live instrumentation in dance music has helped bridge the gap between traditional concert experiences and EDM events. It has also elevated several of dance music’s rising stars into the spotlight.
Trendsetting duo Chromeo, who just released the official cover art and release date for their upcoming album White Women via Craigslist, are at the forefront of this movement. Chromeo’s live set, as seen on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and at countless shows and festivals this past year, consists of frontman Dave 1 on guitar and vocals alongside partner P-Thugg on synth and keys. More than three years ago, the duo received a great deal of attention when they performed "Night By Night" on Late Show With David Letterman.
Also armed with a sophisticated live performance is perhaps the most talked about dance music act in the world right now, Disclosure. The UK duo, comprised of brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence burst on to the scene with their critically acclaimed, Grammy-nominated debut album Settle. Their studio work has set the bar incredibly high, so it comes as no surprise they offer quite a bit more than your run-of-the-mill DJ set in their live shows. Their sets incorporate live vocals, percussion, and keys. Disclosure offers an impressive effort on stage in order to showcase their masterful production abilities.
Another in-demand duo as of late, NYC’s The Knocks, gained massive exposure in 2012, opening for Ellie Goulding on her North American tour. They’ve been on a tear ever since selling out shows across the country and scoring a Hype Machine (hypem.com) number one with their single “Modern Hearts” this past year. Like Chromeo, The Knocks employ vocals and keys in their sets alongside sporadic live percussion to form a unique, exciting act that eclipses the traditional DJ set.
In discussing the hottest live EDM acts of recent years, it would be remiss not to give a nod to saxophone wielding Dominic Lalli and drummer Jeremy Salken of Big Gigantic. Bursting on to the scene a few years ago with a live performance unlike anyone had seen, the two have become one of the most popular headliners in the country and are set to make appearances at Counterpoint Music Festival, Coachella, and Spring Awakening. Their latest album, Touch the Sky, is available for free download via http://biggigantic.net/.
Another facet of the live EDM spectrum is the full band tour by a traditional DJ set up artist. Pretty Lights recently toured with a live band in support of his Grammy-nominated album A Map of the Color Sun. The shows received a wildly positive reception from fans.
More than a few notable international superstar producers have embarked on full band tours over the years, including eternal chart topper Calvin Harris. The live band tour offers an interesting new way for fans to interpret EDM productions and provides an opportunity to bring in new listeners who may shy away from DJ sets and dance music in general because of the lack of live instrumentation.
While the DJ set remains king in the world of dance music as evidenced by Ultra Music Festival’s lineup and headlining timeslots, tastemaking buzz acts looking to enhance the performance quality of dance music shows are making a case to solidify live instrumentation’s place among EDM performers.
Cover photo credit: David Velasquez
Contributed by Patrick Ryan