In an era of fickle Internet buzz and schemed publicity, ODESZA’s story is refreshingly genuine. Their encounter was happenstance. In 2012 Harrison Mills (a.k.a. CatacombKid) and Clayton Knight (a.k.a. BeachesBeaches) found each other in a mutual friend’s apartment at Western Washington University. Mills was showing his friend some new sounds and Knight happened to walk into the apartment during that time. It didn’t take long before the pair realized their mutual taste and music-making chemistry. From an authentic start came authentic music. Boasting a “now or never” attitude, Mills and Knight dove into the music scene without expectations. They began recording and quickly caught fire in the music scene. A short three years later, Mills and Knight find themselves in the middle of an immensely successful world tour. One stop on that tour was, of course, the one and only Dirty D.
The Gothic arches of Detroit’s Masonic Temple stretch skyward into the murky evening clouds. It’s around 8:00pm on Friday, November 20th. Fans stand shivering in a thick line, anxious to be allowed in through the guarded doors. Mere hours in the future their now-frigid bodies will be sweating and jumping to the melodic tempo of Seattle-based electronic music duo ODESZA.
Jai Wolf kicks off the show. He walks nonchalantly across the Masonic Temple’s stage to his sound board. Vapor and red light radiate from behind his silhouette. Facing the humming crowd he crouches over the table, tweaking and twisting the knobs as his fluid, up-tempo music pulses into the concert hall. The crowd sways to the rhythm of his creations. He spins a few remixes: Dirty South’s “With You” and Drake’s “Hotline Bling.” He ends his set with his electronically orchestral hit “Indian Summer.”
RÜFÜS DU SOL takes the stage next. The Sydney-based electronic group pumps up the crowd with hits like “Sundream” and “Like An Animal.” With a heavier focus on vocals and live instruments, RÜFÜS was a dynamic spectacle on stage. After the trio finished their set, they introduced the star of the show.
The room was pitch black. Two shadowy figures float to either side of the stage. They settle behind two digital audio stations complete with drums and keyboards. A flash of white light bursts on, in sync with the first beat of ODESZA’s opening number.
The show was electric. Intoxicating streams of light erupted onto the faces of the audience. Some of the fans closed their eyes, immersing themselves in ODESZA’s trademark dreamy tempo. People went wild for the duo’s biggest hits “Say My Name,” “Sun Models” and “How Did I Get Here?” More than just music, the show was a visual experience. The opening track was accompanied by graphics of stone shards hurling forward towards the crowd. Other visuals ranged from abstractions of psychedelic color to floating lanterns. Needless to say, ODESZA put on one incredible show.
ODESZA’s sound is unique from other electronic artists. To fans and cynics alike, electronic music can have a very cold or emotionless feel to it. Unlike most electronica, ODESZA’s soundscape is warm and alive. Mills and Knight make an effort to add natural textures, vinyl layers and different forms of reverberation to each of their songs. It gives their acoustic a more organic vibe, rather than the robotic sound that defines most electronic music.
Towards the end of the concert, Knight and Mills asked the audience to put up their lighters or glowing phones. The mass of people swayed their arms, transforming the arena into a glittering night sky.
ODESZA’s In Return Tour will continue until June 27, 2016. Check out their website for venues and dates if you’re interested in experiencing the amazing show yourself. If anything, keep an ear out for new ODESZA tracks and collaborations.
Photography by Olivia Meszaros.