REVIEW: Dillon Francis

Dillon Francis can be seen looking small amidst a large stage at the Royal Oak Music Theatre.

I had high expectations walking through the doors of the Royal Oak Music Theatre Wednesday night to see Dillon Francis kill the game with his different musical personalities. He can do it all. I was pleasantly surprised to hear literally everything Dillon can be good at. From cranking up the deep house (“now, we will gone one deeper”), consisting of heavy pulsating base, to mixing in raps, and then trapping out to extremely twerkable music, his full range of style was explored. The range of genres is well demonstrated through his current album and previous work. Whereas many electronic music producers stick to one niche, he is one of the few that constantly prove his versatility at the mixing table.

Dillon kept the energy of the house high all night with his expert production skills in his musical choices and his visuals done by his visual team. Funny, exciting, and overall trippy images were projected on his elaborate set up that featured screens in the shape of mountainous rocks with him in the middle of it. The energy was contagious, and I could not stop moving to the beat. By starting off with “Not Butter” which features a looping “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter,” he set the set tone on the up. He played the entirety of his “Money Sucks, Friends Rule” album which features many collaborations with producers like Martin Garrix on “Set Me Free” and Major Lazer and Stylo G on “We Can Make it Bounce.” By having the artistic freedom to mix up his awesome album, you could easily tell that he wasn’t just pressing play up on stage. He created a unique experience for the audience based on the energy of the crowd and what kind of atmosphere he wanted us to experience. My favorite part of the night was when he remixed Ginuwine’s “Pony,” a 1990s sensual classic and super fun to dance to.

The interesting part about his production were that dedicated fans could instantly recognize what part of his persona he was emulating through his musical choies. The trap beats and inclusion of hip-hop, drum n’ bass, and rap are DJ Rich As F**k’s specialty, while DJ Hanzel is devoted to deep house. What Dillon does outside of production is super smart. Through highly entertaining and scripted videos, he shows his fans that he can do a lot more than making fun music. He’s a great self-promoter, the furthest thing from shy, and it only adds to the larger than life feeling you get when you see him in person. He loves to have fun, which makes you want to follow along and have fun too.

After his signature “Get Low” featuring DJ Snake, Dillon ended with “Love in the Middle of a Fire Fight,” a perfect anthem ending to the show that put everyone in a satisfied mood. I was left with the album ringing through my head on the way home, but it was extremely worth it.


PREVIEW: Dillon Francis

Dillon’s promotional banner for his tour

Who: Dillon Francis with Trippy Turle and DJ Hoodboi
What: Money Sucks, Friends Rule Tour
When: December 3, doors open at 8 p.m.
Where: Royal Oak Music Theatre
Tickets: $29.50 plus service fees or $40 at the door

Dillon Francis is coming to Royal Oak to headline his Money Sucks, Friends Rule Tour and perform music off of his new album of the same name. One of his best albums to date, Dillon keeps you engaged throughout his wonderfully crafted electronic music tracks. You might have heard his collaboration with DJ Snake called “Get Low” that goes “get low when the whistle blow” and proceeds into a hypnotic beat. Get low with Dillon tomorrow night for this not-to-be-missed night out, and excellent mid-week break from studying for finals. Dance your stresses away.

For tickets, visit the AXS website here. Like Dillon on Facebook. Turn up for his Soundcloud. His YouTube channel is also quite the comedic feat and highly recommended on any day where you need a lift.

REVIEW: Kill the Noise

Kill the Noise’s latest album cover

Last night at Necto, Kill the Noise ignited the stage for an electrifying set to a crowd of several hundred patrons. While I rolled up a little later than normal because my pre-concert nap went longer than I expected, I was greeted with pounding drum n’ bass as I walked up the steps to the dance floor. In the back were the usual kids who wear gloves with glow-lit fingers, the guys with hats that resembled bears, and the folks who think it’s a good idea to wear other group’s merchandise at a show that someone else headlines. Nevertheless, I was ready to get into the groove and have a good time.

As the night went on, I routinely became most energized with throwbacks that were then remixed into new material by the experienced DJ. Taking cues from the crowd of what college kids would go wild for, he played the main line to Snoop Dogg’s “The Next Episode” followed by a distorted second half that incorporated in his own style. Additionally, he played “Hold On” (Sub Focus remix) that used the acapella vocals of legendary “All I Do Is Win” by DJ Khaled.

The most hilarious part of the night was when he announced he was going to play something we’ve never heard before, and then started playing the build up for DJ Snake’s and Lil Jon’s “Turn Down for What.” I laughed pretty hard, and then some when he played Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” to effectively Rick Roll his entire audience. The crowd bursted out shouting the lyrics to this extremely odd break from the norm at a club. But, as a 33-year old producer, Kill the Noise, or Jake Stanczak, likes to play around with the younger kids by mixing the unexpected outside the heavy dubstep and drum n’ bass influenced tracks.

My favorite part of the night is where he played some of his own original music, like his “Talk to Me” remix of Brillz’s track. By drawing out the sound of a man saying “talk to me,” he was able to create an eerie and creepy feeling that only added to the anticipation of the drop.

While he does have major collaborations with artists such as Flux Pavillion and Feed Me, it is always a treat to see a producer showcase his own talent at the stand. Especially for a devoted audience who will be able to recognize earlier tracks, it only adds to the overall concert experience. For example, when he played his track titled “Kill the Noise Pt. 1” the audience went into a “Kill the Noise” chant to root for the man at the top of the stage. “Kill the Noise Pt. 2” had elements of a choir in the background, which is part of his style to include traditional vocals (that get distorted) with more heavy beats.

By the end of the night, Mr. Stanczak was getting tired and hopped off the stage at 1:30 a.m. to let the openers close out the show. Openers Two Fresh and Botnek started with The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” from the 1970s that features heavy arpeggio and was featured on my 1970s listening exam in my electronic music class with the RC. At this point, my friend and I knew that the core part of the night was over and that they would try to bring the energy down by the end of the show, which they did.

Overall, it was a great experience to hear some of the innovative ways in which producers like Kill the Noise try to keep their shows interesting and not just the same tracks you can get on Soundcloud performed live.


PREVIEW: Kill the Noise

Kill the Noise’s promotional poster!

Who: Kill the Noise
What: Concert!
Where: Necto
When: November 5, 9 p.m.
Tickets: $17.50, plus $5.50 in service fees for $23 total each

Kill the Noise is headlining Necto this Wednesday night for a show that will be sure to get our minds off the upcoming snow and instead turn up the heat on the dance floor. Known for dubstep and drum and bass, he’s collaborated with big names like Skrillex and deadmau5, and lesser known Feed Me and Botnek. I’m excited for the show because the next time he’ll be around it’ll likely be at a larger venue with him gaining fame in the coming months and definitely in 2015. His sound is electrifying and unique, and he’ll be on full display to showcase his talents to the Necto faithful.

To get hyped for the show, listen to his Soundcloud and like him on Facebook.

Tickets are available here.


REVIEW: Flying Lotus

Flying Lotus incorporates stunning visuals in his shows.

After a winded day at Royal Oak the night before, I was ready to get back to the music theatre for round 2 by seeing Flying Lotus with opener Thundercat. I was tired heading into the concert venue but still ready to open my musical horizons and see what the show had to offer. Once again, I was in for a visual and musical treat.

Thundercat honored his name well by dressing up in a cat costume before proceeding to jam out with the piano guy. As a band who made all of their sounds live, I was very impressed with his ability to play in such a limiting suit while still maintaining a high level of performance. The music was feel good and positive, and I was able to notice the reverb he use with his electric guitar as well as the popular wah wah effect to get a wailing sound. While I was not familiar with the group’s music beforehand, I think they did a fairly good job of introducing people to what they were all about. They didn’t try to be too over the top, and instead, successfully hyped up the audience for the headliner act.

While struggling to stay awake for Flying Lotus, I was quickly recharged with energy when he came out in a suit and light glasses that stood out behind his large white screen. Standing behind this screen added to the mystery that is Flying Lotus, as he conducts his live performing behind a screen that projects his visuals. The visuals were like something I had never seen before–very trippy and very mesmerizing. They would go from feeling like you were traveling in space to protruding out different shapes and colors for a 3-D effect. All the while, you were able to take in the atmosphere of people happily dancing around you and connecting to the music in ways they never could listening to it on their own at home.

Even when the music was something I didn’t like, I tried to understand the reasons for his putting that section into part of the show. Artists make very calculated decisions, especially when it come to electronic music where music order is super important as it aligns to the visual production side of things in this case. Flying Lotus live was absolutely worth the money to attend on a Thursday night in the middle of a busy week. I was impressed with the enthusiasm generated by him and his visual team to create an unparalleled concert experience. Even though I left early because of feeling way too tired, for the time I was there I had a great time.

REVIEW: The Glitch Mob

Love Death Immortality was featured at the show.

The Glitch Mob at Royal Oak Music Theatre on October 22 blew my expectations away for what an electronic music concert can be. As a fan of them since high school, I was excited to get a chance to finally see them live. I discovered upon attending my first show last year (at the same place for a Krewella concert) that electronic music with heavy synthesizers, beats, and oscillators, is a far better listening experience when seen live than when listened to in your headphones or on loud speakers in your house’s basement. There’s so much to take in with regards to what sort of visuals an artist’s visual team will throw up to accompany the music and make your time in the few hours they have with you a total body experience. All senses are activated for the duration of the set, and tonight was an exceptionally well done production all around by the Mob.

Before I go into the main act, I wanted to give a shout out to openers Chrome Sparks and The M Machine. One of the three percussionists of Chrome Sparks gave a big shout out to Ann Arbor as a Michigan grad and noted how cool it was that he was back in the area again. Additionally, they all wore white turtlenecks and white pants in front of their performance stands, reminiscient of the ways in which Kraftwerk uniformly dressed at their shows when they were performing (and they stil do). However, unlike Kraftwerk, they really got into their playing with head bangs and enthusiasm, a large contrast to Kraftwerk’s deadpan stares. The only reason I know about this group who pioneered electronic dance music in the 1970s is because I am taking a class through the RC on electronic music and they have been an integral part of our study.

The M Machine was fun as well, who performed a DJ set while mixing for a dance vibe. I picked up on the beginnings of a track I had heard at the Dirty Bird BBQ in Detroit during Labor Day weekend that is very deep house sounding, but they mixed it up in their own way by adding more layers and complexity to it. My friend mentioned to me during the show that they likely played it as a homage to Claude VonStroke, the owner of Dirty Bird label, who hails from Detroit.

This class has also managed to help me listen more closely to the music I love, and tonight was full of learning opportunities in listening in to how the music is made. I was able to recognize whenever they would open or close a note, or make a note darker or brighter. The common use of oscillators and synthesizers was ever obvious as well, as we have played around with different devices in class to get a sense of the many ways in which to produce electronic sound.

The music off of their new album Love Death Immortality has a musical theme of triumph and victory, which fits in well with their style overall. I couldn’t help but smile and look over at people all around me having a good time swaying to the music. Their stage, called the Blade, featured kick and snare drums they played live while they triggered songs through their manipulation of MPC instruments. While it was difficult to pick out tracks by name because they rarely use vocals, I felt the concert did an awesome job of showcasing the big tracks from this album as well as sounds from their previous work.

I was really glad to take the time to get out of Ann Arbor for a few hours and listen to some great, entertaining music. Thank you, Glitch Mob, for an amazing time!