ODESZA Closes Out What the Festival (and I Wouldn’t Want it Any Other Way)

ODESZA Closes Out What the Festival (and I Wouldn’t Want it Any Other Way)

Photo Credit - Drew Bandy
Photo Credit – Drew Bandy

It’s been two years since ODESZA first played What The Festival, and since that time, the duo out of Seattle has taken some giant leaps. To put their popularity into numbers, I first saw them play in Portland in the spring of 2014 at Holocene, a club fit for 150 people. By the time they made it back around the following October, they were booked at the Roseland (1400) and sold out in advance.

Their first time through What The Festival, they were given an early bird slot on the first night and played to a warm, but rather scarce crowd. ‘In Return’, their second album, was a huge success and was played or sampled by damn near every DJ on the stages this past weekend. Which is why ODESZA was listed at the top of the lineup and was slated to close out the main stage on Sunday night. Given that WTF is one of the biggest showcases electronic music in the region, it doesn’t take an insider to know that this set was a very big deal.

Their worthiness was proven as soon as they stepped onto stage. Behind producers Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight was a horn section consisting of a trombone, a tuba, and a trumpet. The horns slowly played an extended intro to “I Play,YouListen” from their debut album until an extra heavy dose of tuba rippled through the crowd as the beat dropped. Suddenly, I was watching an amplified version of ODESZA that I did not witness any of the few other times I’ve seen them. Adding a brass section was clearly not a rushed decision, rather it carefully filled out a sound that I didn’t know had any room left.

The beginning of the show featured early material as they unleashed another hit from 2012’s ‘Summer’s Gone’, “How Did I Get Here,” a dreamy, soulful mix highlighted by samples of Lily Allen’s vocals. Shortly after, they played their remix to “Soala” an upbeat number originally by fellow Seattle electronic musicians (and early mentors) Beat Connection. This song resonated well with the Northwest crowd which had no problem remembering the words to the chorus.

As the songs progressed the reached into their recent material more and more. An explosive version of “All We Need” and brought in the R&B tone this song carries. After asking the audience’s permission to play a brand new song, they dropped the heaviest bass line they have in their inventory and not too long after that, last year’s biggest hit, “Say My Name” was worked in and climaxed their set.

For an event like What The Festival, it’s important to bring in talented artists from all over, but it’s also imperative to keep local flavor running through all the depths of the event. Having the weekend closed out under the Northwest sky by musicians with an understanding and appreciation for that said sky, made the moment that much more special.

All photos by Drew Bandy

Colin Hudson

Colin has been reviewing and writing about music in the Pacific Northwest for three years. His background lies heavily within funk and blues, but has explored new depths since moving away from his hometown in Indiana. Now, Colin is up to just about any genre and has contributed for a number of local, regional, and national publications including The Deli Portland, Oregon Music News, SSG Music, InTheMix, and The Untz. In his spare time Colin enjoys wearing sunglasses all the time and pondering about the awesome mustache he used to have.

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