Review: ODESZA Takes Star-Making Live Show to Dramatic New Heights at Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena

He said he wanted to dance.

Sitting on a giant twin pedestal overlooking the packed (and air-conditioned) Climate Pledge Arena on a sultry evening, ODESZA’s Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight played one of their strongest cards early. As gleaming electro-pop thumper “Say My Name”—one of the biggest tracks from Seattle electronic stars—filled the concert hall that doubles as a hockey rink, the enthusiastic hometown crowd went wild as they played 70-somethings. degree day saw forecast.

Keeping everyone on their toes, about halfway through the song, Knight and Mills break into a sweaty house from their Bronson side project (“Heart Attack”), at one point slowing it down to a creepy crawl. Turned out, only to punch the accelerator twice as hard. We could have used a sheet of ice to cool off after that scorching run.

A week after releasing ODESZA’s first album in five years, college buds who met in Bellingham settled into a three-night stand at Pledge, embarking on an ambitious new tour that sees local beat boys making good into the elite Seattle company. Is. The nearly sold-out shows mark the biggest hometown explosion since Pearl Jam’s home show in 2018, which recalls a certain thrift-shopping rapper’s run at the old Kierena during the peak of McLemania.

If ODESZA’s hard-to-define dance music was a little more mainstream—or if their massive fanbase had brown hair like me—someone at City Hall was about to fly the ODESZA flag atop the Space Needle this weekend. would have thought. At least King County Executive Dow Constantine threw one of them proclamation day Love the local politician.

Municipal honors aside, ODESZA Weekend got off to a quick and brisk start on Friday after opening sets from middleweight electro-pop favorites Sylvan Aso and Ford, an up-and-coming producer affiliated with ODESZA’s Foreign Family Collective.

ODESZA’s fourth, and most danced, album “The Last Goodbye” was largely conceived during the pandemic when busting communal moves was still a no-no. The dance-floor craving engulfed his subconscious, and new cuts such as the disco spinner “Forgive Me” and dancing “Equal” wowed the crowd with their trance-like synths. Indeed, during Friday’s set the producers used the pair’s more cerebral, downtempo fare as lightly or scattered as accent pieces.

But more than a dance-floor reunion, ODESZA’s mesmerizing first show in three years felt like a get-your-popcorn, dig-your-nail-in-the-armrest summer blockbuster, with all the CGI firepower and There are enigmatic plot twists. Big budget Hollywood movie. If anything can keep Friday’s show away from a perfect five-star review, it’s that the 90-minute run time left us craving even more for the highly choreographed spectacle (could we get the director’s cut)? ?)

As ODESZA expanded to larger venues, their over-the-top tour production has become a hallmark for the bar-raising live electronic act. And it’s not cheap. His deployment of a small army of musicians – a dramatic eight-piece drum line, trombone and trumpet players, as well as three guest vocalists who grace some of ODESZA’s signature tunes – became the dude-with-a-like of mainstream dance music. Laptops defy the norm. In addition to working out their controllers, Mills and Knight crashed cymbals on percussion setups, worked on keyboards and jumped in with the stark choreo of the drum line.

The duo’s Last Goodbye Tour—production supervised by Western Washington University partners Luke Tanaka and Sean Kusanagi—is ODESZA at both its most muscular and craftiest. ODESZA’s performances contrast with long-press-play EDM DJ sets and for the new tour, Knight & Mills cut, stitched and reconfigured old and new songs into ODESZA choice cuts of 90 Frankenstein minutes, creating a complete Created a new audio experience in a way.

In one of Friday’s most compelling twists, soul-cleansing futuristic bass oldie “Bloom” (or at least elements of it) was reworked into the battle-drum-pounding, intergalactic Battle Cry, starring Bronie. The drum line smelled its snares as the track’s teardrops. The bass line came blazing. It was a blow-your-hair-behind moment equivalent to a blazing opening segment that turned the stage into fire-canon hell as an epic “Behind the Sun” marched on.

With their current tour, ODESZA is set to face some of the biggest crowds of their careers, cementing their place among the top tier of Seattle’s music esports. After Friday night’s audiovisual thriller, it’s easy to see why.

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