DJ Snake's return to the stage to kickstart his 2021 U.S. tour highlighted just how much his cachet has grown since we saw him last.
Immediately prior to the onset of the pandemic, February 2020, DJ Snake wrapped the biggest show of his career at the Paris La Défense Arena, performing in front of 40,000 people. It was an iconic moment, but no one could have expected the glacial freeze in momentum the music industry at large would sustain a mere month later.
As we're entering the other side nearly 16 months later, artists are beginning to reconnect with their audiences again—some more successfully than others. For DJ Snake, however, the start of the Chicago leg of his tour was met with a particularly warm welcome.
It was a statement-making night for Snake at Chicago's Radius club, but there were certainly potholes in his path. It was opening night of Lollapalooza and fans were in no shortage of options as to where they'd decide to end the night. However, despite being slightly off the beaten path of the festival's official after-show list, dance music fans had no trouble packing Radius wall-to-wall.
Soon the monolithic concrete venue was vibrating to the dependable kicks of Devault, who has quietly pulled away into the upper echelon of streaming nobility in recent years. Devault was allotted nearly two hours of play time, enough to take fans through a sonic journey of his ethereal late-night house hits, including "Tell Me That You Tried" and "Never Felt Like This," his new collaboration with Kiiara.
By nearly 2AM, Devault was ready to hand things off. As the hungry eyes of fans set their sights on the main course, Snake showed his chameleon colors after being forced to adapt to a last-minute curveball. Malaa, who was originally slated to perform with him, faced complications at the U.S. border and was unable to appear.
The debacle put Snake at a crossroads, but he ultimately proved adaptable like the seasoned pro he is. Sticking to the spirit of what was planned, he delivered a full slate of trunk-thumping house music into the wee hours of the morning. And despite his absence, Malaa's influence was palpable.
Emerging from an ocean blue-tinted mist to the lyrics of "Turn off the radio, turn off that bullshit," Snake snapped fans to attention with "Ring The Alarm," a riotous bass house collaboration with Malaa.
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The night belonged to the harder house sonics as Snake took fans down memory lane with fan-favorites from his own catalogue, like "Made In France," as well as the broader house music lexicon, such as Faithless' now 25-year-old hit "Insomnia."
Seeing a DJ work outside of their normal framework is often a refreshing reminder that this art form is meant to be explorative, a chance to draw in the audience with something they wouldn't otherwise expect.
For Snake, it was a soundtrack well outside the scope of the vocal-driven, pop-trap singles that top his discography. Fans saw another side of the artist known for polished productions and glistening melodies, such as the psychedelic, trap-inspired "You Are My High," his most recent single. Still, with the crowd in lockstep throughout the night, Snake let blitzing basslines and G-House vocals speak for themselves.
Snake blew the doors off at the end of the night with what fuel was left in the tank. Taking the tempo down to half-time with hammering midtempo bass, the bout was enough to awaken the crowd's head-banging spirit as the set came to a thunderous close.
As the smoke cleared, Snake stepped down from the podium in a candid moment to get level with the audience. It was near 3AM but his loyal following crowded the stage for selfies and autographs as the chart-topping producer patiently made the rounds, exchanging pleasantries like old friends.
It was a fitting end for a night that could be the start of a prosperous new chapter, and one that stokes optimism for Snake's future prospects. No matter the time, place, and context, an increasingly loyal fanbase will be there to follow.
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