Odesza occupies a distinct position within popular dance culture today. Their recognizable brand of spacey, up-tempo dance music fits naturally in the realm of pristinely produced recorded music, and their most recent release A Moment Apart was considered a continuation of members Harrison Mills and Clayton Knightsâ€™ success in that regard, earning Grammy nominations for both Best Dance Recording and Best Dance Album. Despite the groupâ€™s notable concert success in the past, the question for fans was how well A Moment Apart would translate to the live setting. The groupâ€™s debut performance at The Anthem on Friday, November 24th assuaged any such doubts.
After openers Louis Futon and Sofi Tukker took their turns engaging the sold out crowd, each met with lukewarm appreciation, Odesza took the stage as the opening notes of â€œIntroâ€ began to play. Even from this modest musical introduction, fans were immersed in the impressive auditory and visual effects accompanying the band on stage. Bright, fractal visual content played relentlessly as â€œIntroâ€ faded into â€œA Moment Apartâ€ and â€œBloom,â€ eventually building to the hit â€œSay My Name.â€ These visuals, when synchronized with lighting effects and Mills and Knightâ€™s drumming on stage made for a pleasantly disorienting experience. The duo would play lesser-known songs on the album such as â€œShow Meâ€ or â€œBoyâ€ paired with spinning lights and visuals, creating a dizzying sensation when paired with the up-tempo beats designed to make it feel as if one was hurtling through space. This disorientation was used intentionally to keep the audience engaged through slower sections before building to a hit song like â€œLate Nightâ€ or â€œLine of Sight,â€ upon which all movement would stop and the audience was released to dance and sing along.
Odesza took these songs a step further, producing a slew of live instrumentalists to accompany songs for which they wanted the audienceâ€™s undivided attention. The group sequentially brought out trombones, trumpets, an electric guitar, and a full drum line in order to escalate the on-stage content and differentiate the live performance from their recorded music. This worked particularly well with â€œAcross The Roomâ€ and â€œSay My Name,â€ aided by the audienceâ€™s excitement to hear these recognizable hits. This attempt also fell short at times, however, especially when the audience was expecting the crystal clear electronic breakdowns present on the album and instead received the understandably limited reproductions that live instruments are capable of.
The nature of the groupâ€™s high stimulation live content also set an unsustainable pace. The audience naturally drifted into lulls during the albumâ€™s lesser-known songs, prominently later in the set with songs like â€œMemories That You Callâ€ and â€œKeep Her Close,â€ creating breaks in the immersion that felt especially pronounced. During these breaks vape-smokers and shoulder-sitters alike felt the wrath of Anthem staff equipped with small flashlights, further creating a divide between the audience and the performers. The show clearly relied on building this immersion and it was easy to feel lost once the spell was broken in these moments.
Luckily, the audience seemed to take these breaks as a welcome opportunity to breathe and relax, eagerly anticipating the next high-energy tune. Odesza capitalized on these opportunities well, and the highs of â€œDivinity (Remix),â€ â€œHigher Ground,â€ and â€œFallsâ€ were felt and enjoyed by an eager audience. By the time that â€œAcross the Room (reprise)â€ transitioned into â€œSun Modelsâ€ the show felt like a triumph, with golden confetti raining down to signal to fans that the dance-induced exhaustion they were feeling was warranted. Despite the low energy moments, many fans were surprised to find that they had been dancing continuously for nearly two hours, and broke out of their reveries for a final celebratory duo of â€œCorners of the Earthâ€ and â€œItâ€™s Only.â€ Mills and Knight pulled this off by doing what they do best: underlying their exciting melodic content with hypnotic rhythms that paused as little as possible throughout the show. The lighting and visual effects contributed significantly, but the music was the underlying current that kept the show interesting, and by its conclusion it was easy to feel as though one had just completed a long, rewarding journey. A continuation of A Moment Apartâ€™s success, Odeszaâ€™s live show was an immersive and satisfying experience, and will no doubt continue to be enjoyed by audiences in the remainder of their tour.