Every once in a while, a co-headlining show comes around that makes you wish you had 1,000 tickets to distribute to all of your friends. Tonight is that such show, a sold-out gig at the intimate Avalon in Los Angeles. German wunderkind Zedd and North Carolinian Porter Robinson are bringing their recently skyrocketing careers to the West Coast for a night of back-to-back music. Zedd’s riding high off of his newest release, “Clarity,” which has found its way to the top of nearly all charts that feature EDM (Beatport, iTunes, etc.) while Porter is fresh off of his own headlining tour, which came around Los Angeles a few months ago with fellow OWSLA labelmates The M Machine and collaborator Mat Zo.
I attended their show on Wednesday at the Yost and it was a blast. Opener Nick Thayer warmed everyone up by playing the best of what’s hot, from Skrillex’s “Make It Bun Dem” to Knife Party’s “Centipede.” He threw in a few 90’s jams for old time’s sake, but mostly spun crowd-pleasing material. When Zedd and Porter Robinson took the stage, the crowd witnessed two young dudes in their prime doing a semi-selfless set. The entire nature of this “back to back” tour was to promote one another and their collective strengths over their personal outputs. Both venues are a great for lasers, giant LED screens, smoke machines, and every other party trick needed to keep the crowd entertained long into the night.
DJ culture is such that the fraternity fuels the careers of everyone. Almost every established EDM performer handpicks the right tracks for a live performance straight from their friend’s albums. Unless you’re a mad genius (see Amon Tobin and Aphex Twin) or an established pillar (see Daft Punk and The Chemical Brothers), you fill the two hours with the best music you can think of. This leads to a ton of parity and overlap in an otherwise individualized movement, but when it works, it raises the entire genre to new heights.
Both are on pace to have stellar careers and Zedd answered a few burning questions I had regarding their current success, their plans for staying relevant, and what to do about inflatable razors.
How did your family react to your New York Times piece?
They were really proud!!!
So, say I’m 15 years old and I attend my very first Zedd show and am lucky enough to catch an inflatable razor and bring it home. What the hell do I tell my parents when they ask “what is this thing?”
You tell them to shave it up. If they ask why – just go in your room but don’t slam the f***in’ door!
In your opinion, what is it about California that makes it such a hotspot for electronic music?
Well, first of all, EVERYONE is there. That’s very attractive as a musician because there’s lots of ways to link up with other musicians or people in the industry. Other than that, the great weather makes more and more people want to go there. I guess it’s just a good combination of all; California is just amazing!
What’s your take on switching from gigantic live shows to playing tiny clubs on a single tour?
I like both – they both have a very different atmosphere. On the tour we’re playing venues that go up to 2300 cap sizes down to venues like Voyeur in San Diego (which I’ve played about 6 times already) which only holds about 400 people. I still love it. Very intimate.
After touring and playing with guys who have been doing what you’re doing for over 20 years, have you picked up any secrets to longevity in this business?
Being yourself is what will make you survive through ANYTHING. If you make music to please someone it’s the first step in the wrong direction. Always do what you believe in, no matter what people say. Only way to go!
Check the slideshow for a collection of shots from their sold-out Santa Ana performance.