Event Review: Pretty Lights at London’s Electric Ballroom

Being an avid Pretty Lights fan can sometimes be a daunting task in the United States. It takes a lot of dedication and/or money to be able to score tickets to a performance. The Colorado producer’s hip-hop infused, melodic electronic beats have been attracting more and more fans from across various genres every year since his first album in 2006. Recently, Pretty Lights (aka Derek Vincent Smith) has been headlining festivals across the globe and playing huge, sold-out shows across the states. Luckily, I had the opportunity to catch him play a smaller indoor venue this past Wednesday at the Electric Ballroom in the Camden area of London, UK. It was my first time, and it was incredible. With plenty of post-concert existentialism following suit, I sadly know I most likely won’t have that amazing opportunity again. Here’s why it was so special:

It felt more like a concert than a show.

It was clear that everyone out on the dance floor was there to experience Pretty Lights. Sometimes at the club, and I’m sure many other EDM fans can attest to this, it just feels like no one is as excited as you are to hear a certain artist’s set. They’re just there to go out and party. But the Electric Ballroom was a concert venue. The ads for upcoming shows in the front of the hall were for punk bands and other musical groups, not club nights. Before and after Pretty Lights came on stage, the venue was playing rock music from the speakers, rather than having DJs continuously play into the next set. It gave us enough time to prepare for what was ahead. And to top it all off, even the way Pretty Lights mixed felt like a concert performance.

Although he still faded the songs into each other in the most beautiful way, fans were able to cheer and rest before revving up their dance moves again. And do I even need to begin to talk about how perfect the lighting was? So colorful and dynamic, and each lighting arrangement perfectly complemented its song.

Naturally, the set was flawless.

Pretty Lights is unique for an electronic music artist because his music is usually always released as complete albums or EPs, rather than single songs with accompanying remixes. This traditional approach attracts many different types of listeners, as it’s easier to fall in love with a certain album or favorite song. On Wednesday night, he definitely played tracks that spanned across his entire discography, including a bunch of new ones from the July release A Color Map of the Sun.

Other highlights included “I Can See It In Your Face”, and “Hot Like Dimes”, two of my favorites from separate 2010 EPs. And of course, coming back for an encore with the sing-along anthem, “Finally Moving”. He closed out the night with a new one, “Yellow Bird”, dedicating it to the love of his life and encouraging us to think of the same. At one point during the show, the music was so beautiful, it even brought a tear to my eye. No words can really describe that, but I know we’ve all felt it.

So far, I’ve noticed an absence of the “Rave Scene” presence in the UK, and that’s kind of a good thing.

Although the colorful outfits and “PLUR” lifestyle are some of the aspects other than music that initially attracted me to the world of electronic dance music, it was a bit refreshing to not see those typical EDM indicators everywhere. As a Webster Hall NYC regular, I’m used to every show I attend having people wearing loads of neon, practicing light-up gloving and hooping techniques, and being generally obsessed with EDM, as it continues to take over the USA. Although I’ve only attended only two shows out here in the UK this semester, no one seems to be doing any of that typical stuff – they’re truly just enjoying the music. The dance moves are the same, but the hype isn’t. Europe’s been doing it this way forever. And although I was a little bummed to be the only person wearing kandi, it was nice to focus one hundred percent on the amazing music before me. Best of all? I still felt just as much peace, love, unity, and respect from everyone there.

Being in the front row for a small venue Pretty Lights show felt like a dream – I sincerely hope all other members of the PL Fam and “Illumination” have experienced or will get to experience something like this someday. Until next time, cheers from London!