“Hey, everyone, meet my mom. She’s the one who got me into EDM!”
I overheard that fantastic bit of celebration while waiting to get in to see Illenium (aka Nick Miller) at the WaMu Theater in Seattle. As the night progressed, I kept thinking back on it because it encapsulates everything about the EDM scene and Illenium’s approach to it.
This being, admittedly, my first EDM concert/rave, I had no idea what to expect from the audience. What I found were people more outgoing, outrageous, and outlandish than any I’ve had the pleasure of sharing a song with before. Guys covered in glitter, ladies wrapped in lights, and even one fan dressed in an accurately updated Spider-Man suit. They welcomed one and all without a single pretense or prejudice. To me, that speaks volumes about the EDM scene and Illenium’s fan base.
William Black opened the show with a bass-heavy set that forced you to bounce whether or not you wanted to. More rave-centric than his successors, Black threaded his tracks with hope and hype. It turns out bass and beauty is a powerful combination.
Dabin took to the stage next, switching gears and slowing the vibe down to something more melodic. With soaring vocals and uplifting synths, he elevated the experience to something more meaningful. For those folks who’ve played around the Apple Arcade, Dabin’s music felt very similar to the soundtrack for Sayonara Wild Hearts, which in my mind is an excellent thing to be compared with.
Then Illenium came to the stage, walking out, guitar in hand, proving upon first sight that he is not your ordinary EDM artist. While his DJ equipment got heavy and consistent use throughout the show, he injected power and performance with live instrumentation. He was supported on stage by David Scott on drums, Said the Sky (aka Trevor Christensen) on drums and keys, Dabin (back on stage) on guitar, and Annika Wells on vocals. With that crew by his side, Illenium put on a more rock-infused set than anyone would have expected to see. Yet he did so without losing an inch of his electronic foundation.
While a show full of lasers, flames, and streamer cannons will undoubtedly grab your attention, Illenium’s music remains the heartbeat of the experience. Scanning the crowd, I saw every emotion, from barely controlled jubilation to heartfelt tears. It remains unexplainable how a talented artist can touch people in such a profound way. When he played “Good Things Fall Apart” as his encore, the crowd joyfully combined into one voice and sang along. It was a poignant way to close the show.
If you’re lucky enough to live near a venue where Illenium is bringing this tour, do yourself a favor you’ll remember for a lifetime, and get a ticket.