About a week ago, I got the opportunity to see a musician I admire quite a lot - Madeon - at a local nightclub in Orlando. Who is Madeon? Well if you saw this Youtube video...
...you know exactly who he is. Madeon is a producer/songwriter/musician/DJ that was 17 years old when this video went viral, getting over 12 million views.
I admire him because the music he creates is quite unlike most other EDM [Electronic Dance Music]. It's incredibly musical, creative, and accessible to most people. Also the fact that he was creating such mature music at such a young age fascinated me, and I really wanted to see him do it live.
The Nightclub Noob
I've never been to a nightclub proper in my life. Sure, I've been to many bars, and club type establishments, but for most of those I was there playing with a band, or going to see some other regular band setup perform. I've never been to an EDM show, in a stereotypical nightclub. And this nightclub was certainly stereotypical.
Thuggish Eastern European Bouncer with mandatory toothpick in mouth - I tried to get a picture of him, but I admit I was afraid he might bash my brains out, so I didn't get any where near close enough for my iPod camera to do the picture justice.
Scantily Clad Waitress Types handing out alcohol to 'VIPs', distributing glow sticks, and getting way to close to anyone who looked like they might be inclined to give them a huge tip.
White Guys and Girls Who Couldn't Dance - They tried, they really did. Thankfully by the time Madeon was on, the club was so packed, no one could dance, even if they wanted to.
Cookie Cutter Club Pounders - That mindlessly repetitive pounding music you hear in movies is totally accurate. The opening two DJs were fairly terrible in terms of entertainment value, although at least they knew how to manage a turn table.
Lyrical content went from 'everyone loves brazilian girls', to a sermon by a gospel preacher that had been cut up and rearranged so that the message was opposite to what the preacher probably intended.
There was a song that included samples from a 911 call and Microsoft Sam, that was incredibly sad on a I-can't-believe-you-took-someone's-moment-of-pain-and-anguish-and-used-it-for-your-entertainment' kind of a level.
There were a few good numbers. There was something that sounded vaguely similar to Goldfish, and then a piece that sounded like Super Mario Brothers mashed with Jonny Clegg and a chainsaw.
Random Groping and Jealous Boyfriends - There was no space to move, and I nearly got caught between a very drunk boyfriend and the offending party. Thankfully, it didn't come to blows.
The Sound Nerd
Since I was there to see Madeon, and nothing else, I resigned myself to people watching. I bought a drink, something horrible tasting, and tried to find a quiet spot.
There are No Quiet Spots in a Nightclub - I'm really glad I took ear plugs. There was enough line array in the club to cover a small arena, or perhaps a mega-church, in a space the size of a small house. I don't understand how anyone can be in that environment for more than 15 minutes without plugs . Even with my plugs, there were some spots where the bass resonance was unbearably loud.
There is No Space in a Nightclub to do anything sensible, like sit down, or have a chat with someone. Since that thankfully eliminated dancing, I resorted to bobbing my head in time to the rattle of my ribcage, so as to show I appreciated there was sound.
I knew he was young, but I half expected him to look a bit older. He didn't even look 18, but that didn't matter; he knew how to perform.
Performance - One of the main reasons I went to see the show, was to see what EDM looks like when performed live. You've probably heard the jokes about Skrillex hitting play on his MacBook, and that being that. I've seen footage of Deadmau5 performing, and to me it looked exactly like that; a guy bobbing his head, hitting a few buttons every now and again.
Madeon was different. He performed his songs. He had two of those 8x8 trigger pads as seen in the video above, and his fingers were constantly flying across them. Between that and sips of Powerade (drinking laws still apply to underage DJs), he had little time to stand around bobbing his head. He was calm, confident, and had more stage presence than I've seen in most bands. It was incredible to watch.
Screens on either side of the stage had an over-the-shoulder shot, so you could see what he was doing with his pads and mixer, which really added to the performance.
Musical - If you haven't yet, I recommend you go check out Madeon's SoundCloud page. His music is full of intricate patterns and hundreds of samples. His music, unlike most EDM, has actual chord progressions, and wonderful dynamics. It's also different live than it is recorded. I don't know how much of his music was improvised on the night, but it certainly wasn't a simple pushing of 'play', he actually created the music as he went.
I arrived home in the wee hours of the morning, covered in sweat, spilled beverages, and having been thoroughly massaged by too much bass, and it was totally worth it. If all EDM was as good as Madeon's, I'd probably be out there a lot more often, but until that day, I'm happy to watch from afar. Or the internet. Most likely the internet.