A rundown of some of my favorite concerts from 2016, complete with playlists and mixes.
Keys N Krates – Stooki Sound @ Concord
As part of their Midnite Mass Tour, electronic group Keys N Krates graced Chicago with their festive presence in early February, bringing UK trap duo Stööki Sound with them.
I slipped into the crowd in the middle of Stööki Sound’s set, and the crowd was already animated. They threw down some fast hip-hop and hardcore trap, enthralling me with the Quix remix of their track with Mr. Carmack, Uppers.
An hour later, Keys N Krates came through with one of their insanely good live sets. There’s an unspeakable synchronized rhythm the three members maintain, though they occasionally veer off into freestyles that showcase their unique skills and music styles.
They brought back some old favorites like “Dum Dee Dum” and “Keep It 100”, and mixed it up with tracks by Mr. Carmack and Grandtheft. But the trio’s true talent comes through in the live mixing they put together. It’s advanced and complex, and evokes as much emotion as an actual track does.
That evening also introduced me to new tracks I hadn’t previously appreciated, like “I JUST CAN’T DENY” and “Yes We Faded.”
Just listen to the playlist, alright?
Alison Wonderland @ Concord
As I scoured Soundcloud for anything Alison Wonderland-related, I was worried that her live show wouldn’t be memorable, because I wasn’t familiar with a lot of her original tracks. However, the show completely exceeded my expectations and ended up being one of my most memorable concerts to date.
Opener Mielo played Manila Killa and The Chainsmokers, and other happy, softer EDM tracks reminiscent of that of Louis the Child and Lido. I recognized many of the songs and really enjoyed the set, while Maddy wasn’t as familiar with them and thought that it was really repetitive.
Both Maddy and I didn’t particularly enjoy Golden Futures’s set. The second opener played a lot of drab music, with the only unique song being Tchami’s “Afterlife.”
But then Alison Wonderland came on, and completely blew us away. Maddy and I were both extremely excited, and had been listening in earnest to my first female DJ and someone that we both strongly respect.
She connected with the crowd well, encouraging us to pursue our own passions, whether it be music production or anything else creative.
“Just fucking create!” she exclaimed.
Her personal connection with the crowd elicited such a strong positive response, reminding me of Lido’s set back in November.
She played a brief but engaging house set, because “I fucking feel like it!”
But most importantly, the tracks that she incorporated into her mix eliminated any previous fears I had about how impressive her live performance would be. She crammed in so many bangers, like Breaux’s VIP mix of EPTIC’s “The End” as well as her track “Already Gone” with Lido, or her remix of Duke Dumont’s track, her play on Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean?” which has blown up since it was released. The crowd screamed the lyrics together when “I Want U” and “U Don’t Know” and “Run” came on, and she also incorporated remixes by Slander and Vincent as well as tracks by Jack Ü and Boombox Cartel. It. Was. Amazing.
Check out my playlist of favorite tracks (but I personally think her live sets speak for themselves).
Brillz @ Concord
Brillz is the gift that keeps on giving. I first became acquainted with this producer back in 2014 when I heard his remix of Zedd’s ‘Clarity,’ but he didn’t appear on my radar again until earlier this year when Christina informed me that he was coming to Chicago. I bought the tickets on a whim, and in the weeks preceding the concert, got extremely pumped for it after growing obsessed with his Diplo & Friends Mix and his Twonk Di Nation tour mixes.
Brillz brought Party Favor and Dr. Fresch to put on a fantastic concert. It was one of those nights where Brillz was so into it, you could tell because both his shirt and his shorts were soaked with sweat.
Towards the end of the concert, he toyed with our emotions by asking if we wanted ONE MORE SONG? TWO MORE SONGS? THREE MORE SONGS? … TEN MORE SONGS? Then he brought Party Favor back on stage, they rocked it in sync and the crowd bounced along through the very last track.
Since the concert, my perception of Brillz has only grown, with my favorite Youtuber Jenn Im giving him a shoutout in one of her videos. I’ve also discovered his involvement with a few of my other favorite artists like Bro Safari, LAXX and Ghastly.
Wave Racer @ Bottom Lounge
I remember being in a Starbucks when I was a senior, writing my college apps, surfing Youtube for good music. A particularly upbeat and lively song caught my attention, and I switched tabs and remember reading ‘Wave Racer’ on the screen and thinking, wow that’s a beachy-sounding name if I ever heard one.
Over the next few weeks, I’d get obsessed with his remixes of Panama and DCUP, so much so that those tunes and melodies narrated a lot of my senior year experience.
Throughout the years, even as my music taste evolved so much, I would consistently come back to his music over and over. These were songs that I would love hearing and bobbing my head to for all of eternity. I’d also hear his new music and observe how his production style changes, falling equally in love with songs like ‘Streamers’ and ‘Rock U Tonite’ and ‘Stoopid.’
When I heard that he was coming to Chicago, I rushed to get tickets. Although the venue was a bit sketch and the crowd wasn’t that into it, I danced so hard when those songs came on. It was a personal accomplishment of mine to see him live, because it felt like I was bridging two different parts of my life.
Though the venue was not ideal, it was surreal to see him in person, and to jam out to the songs that had kept me entertained for years past. He brought back all of my favorites and even teased a snippet of his new remix of Flume’s “Never Be Like You”.