Odesza Turned Heads at Memorial Field
Seattle-based indietronica superpower Odesza concluded their four-show miniature tour of their home turf, the Pacific Northwest, on Saturday.
Around 8:30 P.M., the duo took the stage at Memorial Field in Boise, Idaho, to a sold out crowd of fans. The anticipation in the air was palpable following the release of two singles last month, along with the premier of a multitude of new tracks at their shows in Eugene and Spokane.
With the possibility of new music looming on the horizon, the feeling in the air was that of immense curiosity.
With doors rescheduled from 7 to 6 P.M. (most likely due to neighborhood ordinances), the show took off just as the sun peeked out from a brief period of clouds and light rain.
Prior to Saturday, I had only ever seen Odesza perform at night, and while the music itself comes first and foremost, the importance of lights and production at an electronic show cannot be ignored. I also know that the boys tend to incorporate more live instrumentation in their festival environment type sets. I had never been to Memorial Stadium, let alone Idaho, so I knew little of their setup or the feel of the venue. Between the uncertainty of setting and the early start time, I have to admit I felt a little nervous.
In hindsight, I feel a little bit silly.
There are tangible elements to any set that contribute to the quality of a live show, especially when it comes to electronic music. Timing, setting, production, and a host of other variables that can make or break a set. These factors come into play in many different ways. I’ve seen producers whose music I adore, and left without having made a real connection to their set. I’ve also seen acts whose music I don’t particularly care for absolutely kill a live show, and left with a newfound appreciation for said musicians.
As an avid music fan and relatively new music writer, something that I spend a lot of time thinking about is the intangible force that makes a show fantastic. Until just today, that question has remained largely unanswered.
A simple announcement.
Today, they would be playing a lot of new music alongside some old favorites.
A relief of wave spread across those in attendance.
It’s been three years since In Return’s release, so fans have been starving for some new material. Even among the ranks of the most diehard fans, myself included, there has been anxiety. As Odesza’s tweaked their setlist, without new material to draw on, many of their sets have shared a lot of similarities. Not to knock the group by any means- I’ve seen them play nearly if not completely the same set, at the same venue, two nights in a row, and had a fantastic time each night.
It can be difficult to have perspective sometimes from the viewpoint of a super fan, I’ve seen Odesza play 11 times now, so my experience is definitely different than that of a first time audience member.
Odesza’s rise to fame was rather sudden.
Going from being relatively unknown to headlining major festivals with just two albums under your belt is no small feat. What is even more phenomenal is the intensity of their fan base: they may not be known to the same degree as some veteran DJs, but their fan base is extremely dedicated. They sold out their entire In Return tour, performing multiple sets in a handful of cities. I’m willing to bet a decent number of those in attendance at those shows had seen them play before. Speaking with some other people in the audience on Saturday, I realized that so many Odesza fans still have not been fortunate enough to catch a performance, and that even more potential fans had yet to even know who they are. So, it makes sense that they would want to work off of the material that they have.
Saturdays show, however, was very different from any Odesza show I’ve seen. They played, of course, their most popular and recognizable hits, such as “Say My Name” and “All We Need”. They also played their two newest singles, “Line of Sight” and “Late Night”. A few deeper cuts were also included, like their remix of Seattle favorites Beat Connection‘s “Saola”, a personal favorite of mine.
Perhaps most exciting, however, was the introduction of a at least a couple unreleased songs. The new material, often weaved into existing songs, spanned a range of genres and influence- some that sounded very typical of their unique brand, some with a heavier trap influence- and my favorite of the bunch, a track featuring female vocals (perhaps another Little Dragon feature?) and a very Flume reminiscent future bass beat.
There is something to be said about an artist or group that continues to grow and expand their catalogue while retaining their signature sound.
Odesza succeeds on this front.
By producing a range of material, they are appealing to a wider audience- while maintaining their integrity as artists. By premiering their material in a progressive manner, they are forming an interesting narrative, and simultaneously rewarding their fans- and it’s not going unnoticed. The crowd was absolutely eating it up on Saturday, taking note of new material and also of interesting reworking of prior releases. I’ve never seen energy like that. Maybe it’s friendly Idaho, or the group of Boise friends that I was lucky enough to attend the show with.
I think it’s both, and more.
It’s also worth noting that, as Odesza becomes more and more seasoned in performance, the involvement of touring members continues to enrich the bands live sets. Sean Kusanagi’s formidable guitar and bass chops provide a strong backbone. Scott Flynn trombone and Brennan Carter’s trumpet absolutely bring the audience to rapture. Their continued, and from what I have heard, growing involvement in Odesza’s live presence is a huge advantage- they deserve a shout out!
The early evening format actually worked to their advantage.
The beautiful early evening sun was abbreviated by fleeting sprinklings of rain. It was a perfect setting for the show. By the time the crowd was shouting for an encore, the sun was setting, which inspired Clayton and Harrison to “end the set with something beautiful”. Instead of finishing with the remix to Alex Adairs “Make Me Feel Better”, at this point a staple in Odesza’s festival/outdoor sets, they concluded with a lively new imagining of “How Did I Get Here”.
A perfect ending to a perfect night.
I realize now that I never should have been nervous- I know now what that secret, intangible ingredient that makes Odesza’s sets so captivating is. It’s what was in the air on Saturday. It’s the way I felt about my friends, old and new, at the show, and even some kind strangers I connected with. It’s the reason Odesza has chosen to reward the Pacific Northwest, their home that has been so devoted to them, before they make their way to the infamous Red Rocks Amphitheater.
Above all it’s love.
Odesza loves their fans just as much as we love them- you can feel it; it’s that real.
Photography and video courtesy of Jordon Basurto