Words by: Adam Cremeans | Images by: Colin McLaughlin/melophobe
Pretty Lights :: 10.18.09 :: Crystal Ballroom :: Portland, OR
By now it's hard to have not at least heard of the phenomenon known as Pretty Lights. The group has been on a tear since May, playing late night sets at Bonnaroo, Rothbury, Forecastle, and High Sierra festivals. The momentum has carried over into a fall tour that has sold out venues from Colorado to the Bay Area and will be swooping through the Midwest and East Coast in the next few weeks. The group is demanding attention right now and with a new album, Passing By Behind Your Eyes (available for FREE here) and their first headlining tour, the attention is well worth the hype.
The West Coast leg of the tour wrapped up on a Sunday night in Portland, Oregon at the Crystal Ballroom, a venue that holds a special place in the heart of the city's live music scene. The renovated ballroom is equipped with an original dance floor that is spring-loaded and has the tendency to come to life with the beat and stomp of an energetic crowd. As the Pretty Lights logo flashed to life on the spectacular LED backdrop the duo, Derek Vincent-Smith (producer) and Cory Eberhard (drummer), took the stage to an anxious crowd. New track "Sunday School" opened the set with its heavy beat and words of wisdom from the late Notorious B.I.G., and the party had officially commenced. The allure of Pretty Lights is the sense of beauty and elegance which coexists with a dirty, underground element. The sound is refreshing and unique to the genre like a girl who matches combat boots with a cocktail dress.
The set continued on into the remaining hours of a beautiful autumn Portland night as the duo weaved their way through staple tracks like "Finally Moving" and "Hot Like Sauce." Smith was also able to find appropriate places for the new material like "If I Could Feel Again" and "City of One," a masterpiece that stands out as one of the more layered, produced tracks in the Pretty Lights catalog. A great mix-up of Jay-Z's "D.O.A. (Death of Autotune)" was worked into the set, and the funk sound of "Let Them Know It's Time To Go" resulted in an explosion of energy that caused the floor to bounce with sweaty grandeur.
The night became a series of buildups and releases, each one more energetic than the last. There is a level of improvisation with Pretty Lights that allows Smith and Eberhard to mutually feed off one another while also bringing in the crowd's energy. This added element of detail and creativity is what has allowed the project to gain steam as more and more people come out to see what their music is about, namely a simple, pure, and very real experience that pushes the boundaries of a multitude of genres.
| Cory Eberhard - Pretty Lights :: 10.18 :: Oregon|
A short technical glitch forced the band offstage for a brief moment, though they returned announcing that they would scrap the encore and instead just play straight through up to the curfew. "More Important Than Michael Jordan" opened the energy up again and worked the crowd back into movement. Nearly 30 minutes later as the opening notes of crowd favorite "Paper Planes/Rump Shaker Remix" rang out, the unified audience was sent bobbing up and down for one last throw down on the overly worked dance floor.
When the house lights came up the reality of Monday morning obligations were momentarily put on hold as each of us took time to catch a breath, gather our thoughts, and smile as we reflected on the experience we'd just shared. One word: Refreshed.
For more on Pretty Lights check out JamBase's coverage on the beginnings of the phenomena here, and you can download all of the group's albums here.
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