“Deep fluffy hybrid melodic sexy trap house.”
So Marshmello, the EDM producer and DJ took the stage at Campus Activity Board’s (CAB) annual Plexapalooza, describes his genre of music on his Facebook page. His eccentric, yet somehow intriguing words match the image he’s created as an anonymous artist who performs only behind a light up marshmallow-shaped mask. Marshmello gained fame internationally remixing songs by Jack Ü and Zedd, and is currently on a world tour until June that spans from Brazil to Australia. Luckily for students at Boston College, he stopped by at the Flynn Recreation Complex on Saturday night to perform a show that sold out only six minutes after the tickets went on sale.
A wash of pulsating neon pinks, oranges, and purples replaced the harsh lighting of the Plex last night as students poured in—dressed to rave. Soon equipped with glow sticks, strobe-light foam rods that made for great selfies but inevitably ended up in the face of the nearest person in the crowd, and Plexapalooza tank tops, students lost no time in joining their friends in some high-energy dancing. Many braved the trip to the Plex in shorts despite the cold weather.
Though it was over an hour before Marshmello came on stage, the crowd maintained its excitement throughout the night, creating an atmosphere of wild, yet welcoming madness in which students bonded in the packed, hot space. The audience appeared wholly immersed in the music, which vibrated through the floor, and in each moment, dancing together with abandon and making for an exhilarating experience of connection and conviviality.
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Marshmello’s style of music is different than the progressive style of EDM that famous artists such as Avicii and Martin Garrix adhere to. His jumps and drops are far less predictable, and he relies on a more diverse range of melodic elements and more emphatic percussion to carry his music. At Plexapalooza, the sheer energy and emotion in his music reverberated through the crowd as students jumped and threw their arms forward in unison.
Marshmello’s set list, dominated by synth and bass-heavy electronic sounds, included an array of remixed, recognizable tracks that satisfied EDM fans and casual partygoers alike. Perhaps the most unexpected song was an upbeat version of Adele’s single “Hello,” which members of the crowd belted out in between some vigorous jumping and fist pumping. The lighting coordinated perfectly with each track, switching from colorful to flashing in time to drops in the bass.
The electric force of his performance extended to every wall of the Plex, yet Marshmello himself remained less of a presence than his music. He rarely called attention to himself on stage, addressing the crowd only occasionally through verbal requests like “put your hands in the air.” Instead, he allowed the audience to focus on his work, a choice that reflects his commitment to remaining anonymous.
He manned his equipment on stage with expert focus and precision, pausing momentarily at times to dance along with the crowd. Each swift movement of his hands would signal a rise, drop, or larger change in the music. In this way, the figure donning all white was like a puppeteer, controlling the movement and emotion of the crowd that filled the plex with his hands.
In his Facebook bio, Marshmello writes, “I just want to make good music…that doesn’t require you knowing who I am.” This method of prioritizing art rather than artist speaks to the integrity and talent of whoever it is behind that marshmallow-shaped mask with the crudely drawn smiley face. In the case of last night, it allowed fans to get lost in his music and the excitement of the event rather than the star power of the figure on stage—though it was certainly an impressive feat on the part of CAB members to secure such an exciting performer for this year’s Plexapalooza.
Clearly, Marshmello’s image—or lack of one—has worked for him. In 2016 he released Joytime, a compilation of tracks that ranked number five on the US Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums chart. He departs Boston for his next performance on Feb. 8 in Vienna, leaving behind fond memories of 2017 Plexapalooza in the minds (and Snapchat stories) of BC students.
Featured Image By Joshua Mentzer / Heights Staff