Last September, ODESZA were slotted for Saturday night of Decibel Festival at Neumos, along with Slow Magic and a headlining set from Gold Panda. Set to open the night’s festivities up, the boys were a bit nervous. As our photographer Dave Lichterman recalls from a conversation with Harrison, they were concerned about stage presence, considering Slow Magic had live drums. It’s funny to think of ODESZA like that now, even thought that was just barely over six months ago. Now, Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight have remixes on teen movie soundtracks and sold out more than half their tour dates a month in advance, all while still giving away 100% of their music for free. No surprise at all that their homecoming after months on the road resulted in two back to back sold out nights at Neumos. I talked to a couple people in the crowd who could name every track from Summer’s Gone and My Friends Never Die in a heartbeat. ODESZA have hit the big time, and Saturday night, it was a blast to welcome them home with open arms and packed out room of nonstop dancing. Together with opening sets from D33J and Kodak to Graph, ODESZA night #1 set the bar pretty high for round 2.
Kodak to Graph played a great opening set that got the night off to the right start. Michael Maleki’s DJ work reaches levels of eclecticism that easily put him in the same league with ODESZA. The flow of the set was very natural, too. Early on, Maleki played some of his more house-driven numbers, before moving into experimental hip-hop-infused electronica, the likes of which we’ve seen from Ryan Hemsworth and the like. Towards the end, the set got more and more danceable, as the hip-hop numbers kept coming, including Kodak to Graph’s own edit of Travis Porter and Gucci Mane’s “Do A Trick“. The crowd was receptive and warmed up to Maleki without too much prodding. Kodak to Graph started the night off right.
Kodak to Graph:
Leading us right up to the big finale of the evening, D33J (Djavan Santos) kept the energy going strong with unique, heavily atmospheric set of electronica. While ODESZA was the reason to celebrate tonight, it should be noted that D33J has been making some pretty large strides lately, himself. Part of the WEDIDIT collective along with fellow LA experimental hip-hop producer Shlohmo and others, D33J was featured on Diplo’s BBC program Diplo & Friends last year on the heels of a new EP release. He’s taken some very unique glances at Active Child, Chief Keef, and even Sigur Ros. D33J has carved a pretty unique sound out of the digital chaos, relying heavily on organic flows of energy that make his DJ sets unpredictable and evocative. Every once in a while, when the mist faded for a couple minutes, Santos mixed in some familiars — particularly, his edit of Drake’s new cut “Days In The East” was timely and well received.
If, somehow, two sold out nights in a row still don’t convince you that ODESZA found their way into local superstardom, all you need to see is their crowd at the drop of the first note. As the lights went down and the visuals went up, the crowd lost it. Half pulled out their cell phones to try and record every second, while the other half made one last attempt to push their way forward as close to the action as possible. Clayton and Harrison were all smiles - they could do no wrong all night, not that they needed any grace. ODESZA’s Saturday night set was a nonstop blur of energy, sound, and color. Their take on the modern electronic sound is emotionally captivating in ways that their contemporaries can’t begin to fathom. The mixture of joy and struggle, mixed in with well placed sprinkles of melancholy make ODESZA an easy band to fall in love. That being the case, a room chalk full of fans madly in love already makes for a good time. No single pair of feet was on the ground for long - Harrison and Clayton kept the numbers piling forward and made sure that the crowd’s spirits were consistently as high as theirs. The band’s excellent new single “Sun Models” made its way into the mix, as well as nearly all of My Friends Never Die and Summer’s Gone. When Harrison remarked during the encore that the show was among their best ever, there was no doubt in the room. It was great to welcome ODESZA home at the same time as beckoning them further on down the road to artistic and commercial success.