Friday’s unruly party at the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland offered further confirmation that the sex and drugs associated with rock and roll concerts in previous decades can now be found at electronic dance music events. Many of the approximately 1,500 ecstatic revelers displayed conspicuous amounts of flesh and brazenly ingested intoxicants at a show billed as the Seasons Music Festival.
While decidedly unwholesome, the wanton gala headlined by RL Grime was imbued with good cheer. Celebrants banged their heads, crowd surfed, hurled drinks toward the ceiling and danced as if the concrete floor of the venue’s lower level was a trampoline.
Henry Steinway, the Los Angeles producer who performs as RL Grime, appealed to the base instincts of his admirers with 90 minutes of delirious beats. Like Calvin Harris, Steinway is part of a new wave of acts that’s rendering the distinction between producers and pop stars irrelevant. Even so, his original works such as the rapturous “Aurora,” the grandiose “Valhalla” and the inspirational “Stay For It” didn’t dominate his outing.
Proven club anthems by Migos, Lil Uzi Vert and Kendrick Lamar peppered his set. Situated on an imposing dais embedded in banks of video screens, he enthusiastically presented the music of hip-hop artists and peers like Deadmau5 by pumping his fists with infectious exhilaration.
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Working as What So Not, the Australian producer Chris Emerson specializes in the type of expertly crafted party songs that made Fatboy Slim and the Chemical Brothers stars in the ‘90s. He cut the sound so the crowd could sing the hook of “High You Are” as a choir- “I don’t care how high you are/open your mind/inhale the dark.”
Emerson was unafraid to slow the tempo for enchanting mixes of his silky soul song “Trust” and the delicate “Adieu.” He also made excellent use of the video installations during his hour-long appearance. One track was accompanied by anthropomorphic mushrooms. Another mimicked the bleary double vision effect associated with intoxication.
Graves, a project overseen by Christian Mochizuki, was even more compelling. Mochizuki, a former engineer and studio assistant for Kanye West, avoided the crowd-pleasing tactics of Emerson and Steinway with 60-minutes of nuanced computer-generated music that included his dreamy original composition “Hilo.” The house lights weren’t fully dimmed for a subdued opening set by Kansas City’s Longer Days, a placid beginning to a ribald evening.