Synthetic POPS at the Orpheum Theater with Porter Robinson and Madeon
November 17, 2016
Nestled in an alleyway beside Suffolk University’s own Sargent Hall, the Orpheum Theater opened its doors to fans and new listeners of the artists Madeon and Porter Robinson.
The feature tour is a first for Madeon , whose fame stems from his popularity on YouTube. His most popular video titled, “Pop Culture”, is a live mashup of over 39 songs using a Novation Launchpad and has amassed over 37 million views since 2011.
This is Porter Robinson’s second, albeit farthest reaching tour. Robinson has been mixing music since the age of twelve. He is perhaps best known for his collaboration with A-1 Pictures, a popular Japanese animation company, and Crunchyroll, an anime and movie streaming website, to create an original animation based on their song, “Shelter.”
Every seat in the theater was filled, yet the audience was on their feet to dance to the mix of electric and synthetic pop music along with a variety of brightly colored, pixel-aesthetic visuals. Music boomed from every inch of the stage and room while the two artists played their own popular tracks and soon to be released songs on their collaborative album, “Shelter.”
Porter Robinson, the 24-year old DJ from Chapel Hill, North Carolina took the right side of the stage while Hugo Leclercq, better known as Madeon, a 22-year old DJ and youtuber from Nantes, France took the left side.
Both DJs were constantly moving with the crowd, taking on the role of hype men while using an assortment of media and audio to create the rhythmic blast of synthetic music.
Their music blended sounds effects from movies, 8-bit video games, and other songs they have mixed in the past with pounding beats, auto-tunes and robotic voices, something a mainstream concert-goer would find unexpected due to its unusual and contemporary nature. There was no traditional band setup to crowd the stage, only two computer DJ setups and a lineup of carefully programmed moveable lights in the foreground.
In the background, there were two tall screens a few feet in front of a larger screen that took the entirety of the back wall and flashed visuals ranging from pixel-animated sceneries, to clouds, to glowing green stars.
Porter Robinson, the headliner for the tour and no stranger to the electronic genre, released his first full-length album Worlds in 2014 and collaboration single Shelter, which is the the title track for his upcoming album, which he is touring to promote, in late 2016.
Madeon is also prominent in the music world. He has played in music festivals such as Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Electric Daisy Carnival. His tracks have been featured in several medias such as Dancing with the Stars and video games like NHL ‘15 and Fifa 2017. He even opened for Lady Gaga during her “Born This Way Ball,” and has worked with her on several of her songs on her Artpop album.
The first opener, Robotaki, took the stage at 7:30 p.m. while the audience was still filtering in from outside and finding their seats. His style consisted of remixed songs such as “Pony” by Ginuwine and “Closer” by the Chainsmokers. He also featured his own original track, “Ghostboy,” a smooth and light-hearted song with a bubbly rhythm and vocals provided by Claire Ridgely.
The second opener, Danger, took the stage an hour later. Unlike Robotaki who simply wore a hoodie and jeans, Danger fronted a mask with two glowing white eyes, making him appear more like a shadow than a DJ.
Danger’s style contrasted with the rest of the sets. His music was filled with intensity and pounding beats that made your breath catch in your throat and your ears ring to the point that it became part of the music. Unlike Robinson, Madeon, and Robotaki, Danger’s style was much heavier and borderline dubstep. It was similar to the likes of Skrillex instead of the lighter feel of the other artists at the event.
It was like an hour-long roller coaster ride of contemplating whether it was your heart beating to the swift rhythm or the beats hammering inside your chest.
By 9:30, Porter Robinson and MADEON took the stage to an ecstatic crowd filling every inch of the theater. Hands waved in the air and heads bounced before the upbeat rhythm of “Shelter” even began.
MADEON’s vocals resonated with the audience who sang along to the simple yet enigmatic lyrics, while the two DJs danced and manipulated their technology onstage to create a heavenly mix of cutesy pop and chopped up sounds from Robinson’s album Worlds and MADEON’s Adventure.
As the beat dropped, green confetti spilled from the ceiling and rained down upon the audience in the orchestra section.
Every song in the rest of the set was different, each one ranging from chill and moody to wild and intense. The audience never lost its life, always bouncing to the rhythm, waving their hands along with the DJs, or clapping to the beat in perfect unison.
The last song, titled “Goodbye to the World,” began quiet and slow. A robotic voice wished the audience farewell and promised them “though it’s the end of the world, don’t blame yourself…now. And if it’s true…I will surround you and give life to a world…that’s our own…”
Towards the end of the song, white confetti filled the air like a haze and fluttered down upon an audience that had no desire for the set to end. Robinson and Madeon thanked the audience and left the stage.
The crowd erupted in boisterous applause, chanting for an encore. Whenever the cheers seemed to die down, they quickly grew louder than before, refusing to let the night finish without one final song.
The DJs took the stage again one final time to play an acoustic version of “Shelter” and finished with the exhilarating sounds of “Language” that still buzzed in the ears of the audience once the encore had ended and the lights in the theater turned on.
The show was not only a concert, but an experience altogether. It was one of the best to fill the seats and stage of the Orpheum with synthetic pop and songs that are not just listened to, but felt emotionally.
One of the attendees of the event, who chose to remain anonymous, reflected on the experience. “As a European, I’ve been to many soccer games. The energy in the crowd and the two artists beat out the energy of the crowd at any game I’ve ever watched or been to,” he said when asked what made the concert so memorable.
“When they first entered the stage, it got super intense before the music even hit my eardrums. When the beat dropped in the song, it just took me to another place. I’ve grown up surrounded by artists like Air and Daft Punk my whole life. It’s refreshing to see a new take on the genre that Porter Robinson and Madeon provide,” he added.
The tour is on its second leg and continues for the rest of the year, spilling into 2017 for several stops in Europe. All of Madeon and Porter Robinson’s tracks can be found on their respective youtube channels, Soundclouds, and Spotify profiles for anyone interested in a completely new sound or looking for two of the best artists in the electronic genre.