Pretty Lights is more than just Pretty Lights

Despite the cold November Third wind outside, Pretty Lights fired up the Times Union Center on the inside. Albany’s biggest venue hosted producer Derek Vincent Smith, better known as Pretty Lights, and his electronic dance beats. Doors opened at 7 with the show kicking off at 8 but I arrived around 9 in hopes of beating what was sure to be a crazed mob of teens trying to get it. The TUC had a beer garden set up for the one night event, much to the disappointment of the older crowd but a wise decision considering the mass of underage concert goers. There were large black curtains blocking the view of the show from the beer garden area, making the beer garden all the more obnoxious.

photo by Chris McMullen

The stage was filled with multiple towered structures aching to be lit, while a clock on a big screen counted down the time until Pretty Lights’ performance. The floor was open to the first 3500 people inside, most of whom were covered in neon, glow sticks, face paint, furry boots and many other costumes. There was a good amount of people in the seats but all the action was on the chaotic dance floor. Pre-show was the ever popular panic of concert goers rushing, trying to find your friends and a good spot to watch the show. Most of my friends and I were content with hanging back in our own dance space, and always the best place to people watch too.

With the countdown over, the audience erupted and Smith took his place atop the stage. To watch the jam packed crowd bounce in almost perfect union to the beat of every song was astonishing. The shows at the local Washington Armory I was accustomed to had nothing on the force of Pretty Lights and the fans. The music started and the energy never stopped, the frenzy of dancers helpless against the electronic beats and  flashing light show. It took everything I had NOT to blink for fear that I would miss the hundreds of lazers shooting across the arena and futuristic images being blasted across the huge screens outstretched across the stage.

photo by Chris McMullen

The music that blasted from Smith’s speakers was welcomed and embraced by the thrill seeking crowd. Ranging from a wide array of hip hop, a little soul and a great deal of electronic mixed with some house and dubstep, Pretty Lights knows what works and can easily control the crowd. One of the most memorable moments of the night was when Smith performed “Finally Moving” which features the ever popular Etta James, “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” amping up the crowd to all sing along and groove to the beats. This was a great set up for the next big song of the night, a remix of Jay Z’s “Empire State of Mind”, a recent New York anthem and a refreshing hot remix.

Pretty Lights is more than just a really intense light show, it has an unrelenting carousal of beats and melodies that keep your mind, body and soul in party mode all night. Pretty Lights offers free music, as well as wallpaper and icons on his website and after touring the U.S. he will ring in the New Year with a two-night stand in New York City.

Tomorrow, check out an interview with Pretty Lights’ Sound Engineer/Assistant Tour Manager Phil Salvaggio and Lighting Director Greg Ellis.
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