Squeals and eager outcries were visible in the icy air outside Barclays Center, where ODESZA would soon finish out their tour, and the crowd generating the buzz ultimately filled every seat in the venue. The fact that the electronic duo had sold out the 18,000-plus capacity arena was especially impressive in Friday night’s frigid weather, which was snowy enough that their fans’ dedication prompted a segment from Brooklyn’s local News 12, complete with a concerned reporter live on the scene. Signs on the venue’s doors were equally cautious, urging, “No crowd surfing or mosh pits allowed,” with images of both prohibited acts provided for reference. But with a performance like this one, it was less likely Barclays would be dealing with violence, and more likely they’d be struggling to usher out a hypnotized mass at the end of the night. It was one of those shows that sent all your senses spinning.
The late start time was fine with their fans (particularly since ODESZA were kind enough to tweet a heads up), and by 9:43pm, the audience had found a unifying way to bide the time. On unspoken cues, hundreds of glowing lights appeared throughout the venue, the crowd using lighters and phones to ensure their presence was known. This spectacle lasted for mere minutes, because the duo officially took the stage at 9:48pm, the whispers of “Intro” from their new LP rushing in as otherworldly visuals fluttered to life. Within moments, it was easy to see why the Seattle electronic duo, consisting of Harrison Mills, aka Catacombkid, and Clayton Knight, aka BeachesBeaches, were just nominated for two Grammys. In the wake of what many critics call the “EDM bubble burst,” there’s a lot of pop and electronic now that just skates by without differentiating itself or challenging the format. This was nothing like that. Backed by live trumpet, trombone, a 6-person snare line, and an army of instrumentalists, ODESZA ventured into the furthermost edges of indietronica and chillwave, constructing a distinctive soundscape. “Brooklyn, you look beautiful from up here,” they proclaimed early on. “Tonight is the last night of the tour. We’re gonna go out with a bang. It’s gonna be so much fun.”
It’s hard to say what ODESZA themselves were witnessing on the big stage, but their fans’ handmade signs, with song lyrics like “I wanna dance with you” (from “Say My Name”), surely caught their eye from time to time. As beams of white light pierced the air at every possible angle, Harrison and Clayton towered above the energetic crowd on high platforms. With ceaseless intensity, the pair moved their bodies hard as they pounded out the percussive impacts from this year’s full-length album, A Moment Apart, on which they were touring. And in perfect sync with each beat, the high-production show supplied a multicolored visual feast, which left many fans murmuring in amazement in the moments between their screams. While ODESZA soared through the interstellar twists and turns of the new record, the Brooklyn crowd sank happily into swirling graphics, which resembled electrified crystals, liquified Rorschach tests, fluffy dancing animals, and the beastly feet of city-crushing giants. Suffice it to say, if you or your friends had eaten anything funny beforehand, you were in for one hell of an audiovisual experience. Just four songs in, ODESZA were drenching Barclays in red confetti, which had barely fluttered to the ground when they started lighting pyro for the fifth song. With eight fire cannons exploding vertically behind them, reflecting a sinister orange off their cymbals, and red spy-scene lasers scraping the empty air above, the dynamic group of musicians on stage seemed all the more powerful.
Clusters of glow sticks continuously went airborne as fans searched for new ways to show their appreciation for the immersive performance, which featured several guests, including Naomi Wild on “Higher Ground,” the song she sang on A Moment Apart, and WYNNE, for his part on “Line of Sight.” By the number of phones that shot into the air, you could tell the audience was excited to hear their parts live, and the features were among the many highlights they rushed to capture digitally. Throughout the night, though, the crowd seemed conscious that they were witnessing something special for the last night of the tour – and against all expectations, grew much less reliant on their devices. For once, the bigger focus was soaking it in, putting empty palms in the air and letting the music guide their muscles. That reaction alone is enough to restore one’s faith in popular music, but the reality that the whole format was so new – barely scratching the surface of the post-EDM genre they’re unearthing – is what makes ODESZA true pioneers.
Photos: Shayne Hanley
Article: Olivia Isenhart