Porter Robinson at the Ogden Theatre, 7/7/12
See Also: Porter Robinson Q&A
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Porter Robinson slowly drew his hands up as the strobes began to flicker and the crowd yelped in anticipation. The track? Robinson chose a remix of Janet Jackson's "Go Deep," which has a hook that states, "We go deep, and we don't get no sleep." That's precisely what every person last night in the sold-out Ogden Theatre was doing at that moment. As the build up led into the drop, and the lights timed perfectly in-sync with the beat, the entire place went deep and erupted in dance music rapture.
In his immaturity, the nineteen-year-old Robinson is quickly climbing the ranks of DJ stardom. The phenom hails from North Carolina and has packed quite a punch into this tour, which showcases not only his talent behind the mixers but an equally impressive lineup of openers on the bill. Following the M Machine and Mat Zo, Robinson strode on stage around 11:30 p.m., backdropped by two flanking "PR" light logos that blasted our retinas for the entire night, searing the Porter Robinson brand into our memory banks.
Switching things up constantly on the mixer, Robinson tackled the past fifteen years of electronic music by sampling choice hooks from late '90s hip-hop tracks and classic electro hits. As par for the course, Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" quashed any doubts that Robinson has forgotten where his roots, whereas his use of Knife Party's "Destroy Them With Lasers" brought things back to the present.
Robinson offers fresh breath into this constantly evolving world of electronic music. His spry stage presence is not only audience engaging, but also relatable. Unlike the cocky press-play DJs of the current (we are looking at you Deadmau5 -- directly at you), Robinson's efforts present a fun understanding that his time in the spotlight is now, and he better make it memorable if he wants to remain there. By sampling audience favorites like Dada Life's "Kick Out the Epic Motherfucker" and Nero's "Innocence," he is able to blend his unique, un-anticipatable drops in while still maintaining the integrity of the track. It's nice. It works. And Robinson kills it.
Mat Zo (aka Matan Zohar) filled the middle spot between the M Machine and Robinson, and wasted no time in using his DJ tools as his voice. As soon as Nate Dogg's soulful vocals from "Where I Want to Be" came out of the speakers, they sent smooth chills down the spines of everyone, Mat Zo's logo danced on the projector screen and the crowd began vibing on each other.
It wasn't long, however, before that sample was cut and the tempo built into a faster electronic groove that held true for the entire set. Mat Zo also played a short mix at Denver's Beatport headquarters earlier in the day, which is always a nice way to prime the fans before the show. If there is one thing to be said about the visuals, which really weren't anything to write home about, it's that repetition is a great way to stake your claim. The Mat Zo logo stayed on screen for the entire set, occasionally changing patterns, but always reminding us who was providing the soundtrack to our insane dance party.
The M Machine, who will also be opening for Skrillex next month at Red Rocks, set the pace for the night at 9 p.m. when the show started.
This electronic trio has live-looping vocals that are actually sung live, mixed smooth-and-clean and then blended perfectly into the synth-heavy tracks. Musically, the songs worked perfectly with the filling venue, but sonically, it was a little off. The audio was just off and sounded like when you plug your iPhone into a receiver and the volume is too high on your phone; it just needed a little bit of tweaking. Regardless, the set was energetic, and the blooming flower that is the M Machine will most certainly grow into a force to be reckoned with as the group matures in the electronic dance music scene.
Personal Bias: Porter Robinson at Global Dance Festival last year was a great set -- but this solidified his presence in the scene.
Random Detail: Robinson blew a strobe halfway through. Probably because they were on blast for the entire set.
By The Way: "Go Deep" is an absolutely badass song, both the original Janet Jackson and the new tracks that sample it.
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