I see a lot of live music in my line of “work.” Sometimes, I’ll go to see an artist I know very well and have even seen live before and I expect them to put on an amazing show. And then they’re a huge disappointment. Sometimes I’ll go to see an artist even though I don’t know any of their music, and they blow me away. And then there are nights like this past Saturday night at the TLA. When I go to see an artist who has blown me away in the past, and whose fans are so energized and obsessed that it’s legitimately painful for them to wait another second for the show to start, and even with the wait, the build up, and the hype… Griz lives up to, and surpasses, any and all expectations.
I have to start at the beginning. I only kind of knew Griz when I saw him for the first time almost two years ago. He was the supporting artist for night one of a two night sold out Bassnectar run at The Electric Factory in Philadelphia. Needless to say… the dude smashed it. I was very impressed.
I made sure that when The Hudson Project rolled around and he was set to play a late night set, I made sure to be there. That was the night I fully understood the live Griz experience. I’ve never experience a crowd so positively energized as I had that night, and the closest I’ve come since, was Saturday night, which was nearly flawless.
And it all started with The Floozies.
It’s difficult for an artist like Griz, one who has such a loyal and enthusiastic fanbase, to enlist a supporting act that can appropriately energize the audience in such a way that excites them enough that they’re not all just standing around waiting for the main act, but also doesn’t let them forget who the main act is.
The Floozies were perfect for this job. Their blend of funk, rock, and electronic dubness kept us all moving for their whole hour. I’d seen them several times before, and I have to say that when I go months without seeing them, I sometimes forget just how good their live performance is. And then I see them again. And this happens.
And then there’s Griz.
First, I have to say something about the crowd. The show sold out weeks ago and frankly, that’s a little longer than I expected it to take. Still, the demand was considerably greater than the supply as the day before the show, the cheapest ticket available on the secondary market was $82. Face value as $27.50.
Because I’ve been to shows with similar fanbases, I’ve come to expect that while plenty of fans come for the music, some… okay many… come for the scene and… well… the drugs. Lots of drugs. I don’t know if it was the strict security and lengthy “banned” list of the TLA, but I was surprised and encouraged to see the audience was shockingly sober. I saw very few individuals who looked to be in an altered state of mind. I actually don’t attribute it to security policies at all. I think it’s probably more so the fact that Philadelphia Griz fans considered this show to be a treat. This was an evening to be cherished. A privilege, not a right, and we were lucky to be able to spend a night enjoying each others company with our favorite music.
Another very notable aspect of the night was the light production. For some reason, a ton of electronic producers and DJs rely on these humongous, elaborate LED light and visual projection displays that take up the entire stage – almost hiding the artist. Griz’s team did it right. He was back lit by a curved wall of lights that danced around but also focused predominantly on lighting Griz, himself, making for a spectacular show without losing focus on the artist.
From new cuts off of his latest album, ‘Say it Loud,’ to “Hakuna Matata,” Griz had us enthralled the entire night. Highlights include the aforementioned Disney tune, a Grizmatik drop that sent the crowd into a frenzy, Matt Hill of the Floozies coming out to jam, Gettin’ Live encore, and capping off the night with some Arcade Fire.
There’s a lot that’s stale in electronic music and its surrounding subgenres these days, but Griz is the antidote to the negativity. His sound isn’t particularly new (he’s young, but he’s been around for years now), but he continues to move electronic music forward, instead of being content with the status quo.