Live musicians are challenged to create an atmosphere consistent with the venue. Developing continuity to a stage persona, working in a variety of venues-and often less-than-ideal spaces-is what makes live music so difficult. So it follows that a five-court gym might be a difficult space to turn into an EDM concert space.
Both acts at Plexapolooza, however, did an admirable job working the space and knowing their crowd to amp up the energy and create an entertaining show once the evening got rolling. There was a delay in the opening act because of an overall late crowd, but John Pierson rose to the occasion and played a heavily current, Top-40 set list with just a few throwbacks to keep the crowd happy before DJ Enferno made his on-time entrance. Pierson’s set played off of the success of recent EDM acts like Avicii, bringing together central pieces of hit songs with his own orchestrated drops and synth sequences.
Taking over the main stage at 10:30 p.m., DJ Enferno immediately showed his style in a live-remix to start the show, working “N-s in Paris” by Jay-Z and Kanye into an extended EDM mashup. Prefaced as a “live-remix,” the song was played on a mixing board that faced the crowd so they could follow along with the creation, as well as a system of additional mixing controls tucked away behind the visible pad. The Washington, D.C.-based DJ used this same technique multiple times throughout the show, identifying these special live remixes through the evening. It was unclear, however, just exactly what made some of his songs “live-remixes,” while others didn’t seem to share this distinction. DJ Enferno’s rig was far more complicated than most, and he bears the unusual distinction of being almost entirely known for his remixing techniques, rather than original numbers.
There always comes a question of the veracity of the remixing techniques of acts like Enferno. Recently, a string of incidents at festivals have brought to light the dishonest practices of deejays who do not actually do their mixes live. In the case of Enferno, the crowd could clearly see him pushing squares that matched up with sound effects. After the initial drum sequences, the elements distinguishing these tracks as “live remixes” weren’t quite so easy to pick out, with some numbers nearly identical to the original. Enferno did, however, go to greater length than most of his contemporaries to bring a full mixing rig onto the stage, and kept involved with the controls throughout the show.
While the “live” aspect of EDM can be slightly confusing, it did not take away from the actual music in Enferno’s case-his mixes were never anything less than entertaining, and he had a very genuine style of showmanship on stage. DJ Enferno consistently chose up-tempo hits and kept the crowd entertained with quick switches and heavy bass. He also tapped into the live music necessity of crowd interaction and was able to ignore technical difficulties-such as when he called for a spotlight that either did not or could not work-to engage with the crowd. That interpersonal talent is exactly what a musician needs to get a group of students to forget that they are in a place where basketball games, volleyball games, and group fitness classes are held daily, and instead get pumped up by the music.