Tropical house pioneer plinks and plonks
THE SANTA CLARA
January 21, 2016
I’ve never been too fond of EDM. I know plenty of rave-lovers who boast about how “chill” and collectivist the culture is, but the substance abuse, escapism and girls dancing around in fur boots and panties, strikes me as equal parts ridiculous and distressing.
So when my friend Sean invited me to see Kygo in the kickoff of his Cloud Nine Tour in San Francisco this past Thursday, I was more than a little hesitant.
After all, the entire genre gives me the impression of being no more than a glorified laser dance party—and definitely not a conducive environment for a girl prone to anxiety.
As I expected, the fetor of weed smacked my nose the moment we walked into the auditorium, but I was reassured that I wasn’t the only casual fan when I saw a pleasant mix of khakis, tank tops and Hawaiian shirts amid the expected rave gear (I was in jeans and a tank top).
Everyone was mostly as “chill” as I’d been told they’d be, allowing Sean and me to maneuver a good distance toward the front, where, honestly, not much happened until Kygo came on.
Norwegian duo and opener for Kygo, Nico and Vinz, while full of undeniably great energy, didn’t really resonate with the crowd. This quite possibly could have been due to their nearly inaudible vocals, that confused more than entertained—leaving everyone awaiting Kygo even more so than before.
For good reason. Although I’m not the biggest fan of his music, Kyrre Gøorvell-Dahll, better known as Kygo, is a big deal. He pioneered tropical house, the poppy sub-genre of EDM which slows things down for a more Caribbean beach party feel. And recently, the not-so-long-ago bedroom producer became the fastest artist to hit one billion streams on Spotify. He has more than just his euro-polished good looks to thank.
The Scandanavian deviates from EDM norms by performing as much of his music as he can, grounding the experience in grand piano, keyboard and featured vocals from artists like Ella Henderson and Conrad Sewell.
Seeing as much of EDM appears to me to be simple button-pressing, this is rare—and what I find most intriguing about his performances. This might be the key to Kygo’s spread beyond the EDM crowd.
When Kygo entered, everything from the people to the neon lights submersing the stage began to sway to his bouncy, plinky-plonky remix of Seinabo Sey’s “Younger.” Throughout the remainder of the show, Kygo maintained his hypnotic grasp as he played 14 other songs and two encores.
Despite my reservations, I enjoyed myself dancing and sweating and ignoring grossly affectionate advances. Perhaps this was due to the atmosphere he created with pyrotechnic, rainbow lighting and tightly cued confetti cannons. Perhaps it was because Kygo wasn’t in my face, demanding everybody to put their hands up. Or perhaps—and most likely—I just like the dang guy.
While this does not mean that I’ve joined the EDM cult(ure), the concert definitely satisfied me. Nobody told us to do anything, and there were no big bass drops or synths at frequencies only dogs can hear. It was just breezy fun.
I appreciate EDM more than I did a week ago, but I think I’ll stick with tropical house for now. It’s about as intense as I’d like to get.
Contact Riley O’Connell at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.