I had never been to the Blind Pig. Nor had I ever been to a show quite like the one that Odesza, Ambassadeurs and Hayden James put on. The show was sold out, with only 20 tickets available to be bought at the door- but the line of people wanting those tickets went well past the corner of 1st Street in Ann Arbor. Doors opened at 9, but when I arrived at 8:15, people were already lining up to see the three artists at work.
The first artist, Hayden James, went on around 10 P.M. and right from the start he had the crowd dancing with his smooth beats. Hayden James, a DJ from Australia, mixed his own songs, including: Beginnings and Permission to Love along with remixing Swimming Pools and You&Me. Within ten minutes of Hayden’s set, the Blind Pig was full of people dancing to his beats.
The first beat drop had the crowd dancing as though they were at Ultra or Lollapalooza, but when Hayden slowed down his mix the audience adjusted accordingly. Keeping the lights dimmed, the energy within the venue had an underground feel. Along with hypnotic beats Hayden also added hip hop influences that appealed to the college kids in the audience. As one of the two openers, Hayden James invigorated the audience with every mix getting a phenomenal reaction from the crowd. The Australian DJ played one song after another, only stopping to laugh when girls from the crowd told him to take his shirt off. But the struggles of being attractive and onstage did not stop Hayden James from playing an amazing set!
Following Hayden James’ set, the anticipation in the crowd was high to see who the next artist was. Mark Dobson, known as Ambassadeurs, is an electronic DJ from England. SHEI had the opportunity to sit down with him before the show and talk about his music, influences and future plans- check out the interview here!
When Ambassadeurs came on, the crowd was getting rowdy but his smooth beats sent a chill down the backs of the audience. Everyone was constantly moving to his melodic beats with each song flowing effortlessly into the next. While Hayden James was much more upbeat and closer to the mixes of Calvin Harris; Ambassadeurs channeled a James Blake vibe with an electronic twist. His music sent vibrations through the hardwood floor of the Blind Pig and into the crowd. The music was sensual and dark- leaving me feeling like I was not even in Ann Arbor while listening to his set. Ambassadeurs played tracks off his recent album, Trouble, along with songs off of Come A Little Closer.
After Ambassadeurs and Hayden James came the awaited performance of the night: Odesza. Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight of Seattle came together in 2012 to bring to music listeners a mixture of electronic and chillwave music. In 2012, they released Summer’s Gone; a full length album featuring hits such as How Did I Get Here, IPlayYouListen and I Want You. After their immediate succes, they released an EP (My Friends Never Die) in 2013, and another album (In Return) this year.
Before Odesza took the stage, the venue lights were turned off completely and a single light shined on a white backdrop behind the stage. The audience eagerly awaited the arrival of Harrison and Clayton; cheering before the two even reached the stairs to the stage. Starting with their first song the crowd was entranced with the music, lights and atmosphere that Odesza created. I remember looking to my right and seeing middle aged men dancing to Odesza’s hit song All We Need. Odesza used their signature drums to keep the crowd engaged, intensifying the power of their music as it was played live. The duo played over a dozen songs, keeping the energy of the crowd high with their remixed beats. They even pulled a girl named Madelyn onto the stage, because of the hit song Sun Models that features Madelyn Grant.
They ended their set with It’s Only, and soon after leaving the stage were called back by the chants of the crowd. Odesza did an encore performance featuring the song Say My Name from In Return- the most awaited song of the show.
All together, Hayden James, Ambassadeurs and Odesza proved to the audience that music is a universal language. With an Aussie, a Brit and two Seattle natives sharing the same stage; music junkies like myself got to hear the true brilliance of artists doing what they love on a daily basis.