(All photos taken by Vanessa Crisostomo.)
The announcement of Giraffage and Slow Magic touring North America together brought with it a resounding, “About damn time!” It seems like a match made in heaven – both musicians work with a similar atmospheric, easygoing, chilled-out beat music style, both musicians have live performances heavy on crowd-wide dance-offs and non-killable good vibes, and both musicians have a visual aesthetic somewhere between Sad Boys and the inside of a Justice store.
The producers’ “So Cute! Tour” made its way through The Showbox on the cold, windy, rainy night of December 11th. A block-wide line of nerds and ravers alike waited in the stormy nastiness to go inside and let any feelings that weren’t pure bliss fade away. Everything from gloves with LED lights in the fingers to giraffe kigurumis lit up 1st Avenue, and helped foreshadow a night of color and unembarrassed quirkiness.
Lindsay Lowend opened the show, a somewhat mysterious producer-DJ whose original work tends to sit on the faster, more neon-colored side of trap music. He took the stage at a surprisingly early 8:30 P.M. to work his hard-hitting beat music magic for a crowd that wouldn’t shut up for a good portion of his set. Songs like Kendrick Lamar’s “The Blacker the Berry” were turned into bass-intensive trunk-knockers, matched with a couple originals here and there. A seamless set in which Lowend never spoke to the crowd, it was pretty obvious he wanted to let his beats do the talking.
“Are you guys ready for Giraffage?” An excited worker asked the hyped, restless crowd, before asking them again if they were ready for Giraffage. Finally, as the clock struck 9:30, a thick fog and bright light obscured the tricked-out stage, and Charlie Yin made his appearance to a rumbling applause. Soft colorful lighting illuminated the Showbox as a slow ambient intro slowly melted into the room with the mood-setting fog. The ambiance was punctuated by a loud voice saying Giraffage’s name, and very quickly the set went from pretty to pretty goddamn exhilarating.
One of the first songs Yin played was his Carly Rae Jepsen remix for her song “I Really Like You,” a song which, when I first heard it, my first thought was, “Damn, this song is going to sound perfect in the live setting.” The remix takes the sugar-charged original and turns it into a trap-flavored summer jam, and in the live setting, it does wonders in bringing the crowd together. Hands were raised to the constellations, hips were swayed, and couples front to back were hugging and dancing together.
Though this was my third time seeing Giraffage live, it still managed to feel like a completely fresh, new experience. There were a lot of curveballs thrown in his Showbox performance, among them a mashup of Drake’s “Hotline Bling” and the generic iPhone Marimba ringtone, accompanied by a looping .GIF of a crying cartoon Drake. Various emoji lit up the screen at random intervals, like the clapping emoji designating when to clap to the tension-building rise. Yin has always been an eccentric figure both inside and outside of his music, and it’s never more apparent than when seeing him live.
Co-headliner Slow Magic went on shortly after Giraffage’s set closed out with his futuristic remix of “Party in the U.S.A.,” a live staple of Yin’s. The anonymous figure took to the stage brandishing his iconic light-up mask and trusty drumsticks, and wasted very little time filling the room with his ominous, beautiful music. Bright pinks, purples and blues emanated from the backing screen as the producer wailed on his two floor toms, lighting up the entire room with irradiant lights with each strike.
Across the hour or so that his set lasted, Slow Magic put the Showbox crowd into a deliriously cheery trance as he worked his way through most of the best tracks off his How to Run Away record from last year. Spread throughout were a couple incandescent remixes, most notably a live performance of his fantastic take on ODESZA’s viral jam “Say My Name,” as well as his multi-faceted take on Giraffage’s “Be With You,” all to a warm reception from the dancing, ever-animated crowd. Like the last time I’d seen Slow Magic (at the 2014 Capitol Hill Block Party), his set wasn’t so much about recreating his songs live using MIDI controllers as it was enhancing his pre-recorded songs live with his excellent drum skills and unique stage presence.
A wave to the crowd signaled the end of Slow Magic’s set. A minute of collective impatience passed before both Slow Magic and Giraffage returned to greet the audience, drumsticks in hand. The screen changed to an animated background of pastel colors and various cute things, signaling to the audience that shit was about to get real. The opening chords of their fantastic collaborative track “So Cute!” began to bleep out of the speakers, and the two tore the floor toms apart to their aptly-named adorable, feel-good music.
A strange, amazing performance of Smash Mouth’s “All Star” signed off the night for the two producers, as the crowd laughed, cheered, sang along, had the unanimous time of their lives. Friday night was the sort of night you look back on and wish you could relive it, as the same larger-than-life feelings from that night begin to trickle down your spine slowly. It served as a better reminder than any that music makes life worth it.