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When discussing the indietronica duo ODESZA, two things immediately come to mind: the ability to engineer ear candy beats and putting on a live performance that is both visually and musically stellar. Last Thursday night saw the duo from Washington absolutely light up Pittsburgh. Filling the outdoor section of Stage AE to maximum capacity, ODESZA’s set was packed to the brim with stunning visuals and musical prowess. With the addition of the vivacious Kimbra acting as direct support, the amount of talent on Thursday’s bill was very evident.
Making her way on the stage with her backing band, Kimbra Lee Johnson (aka Kimbra) was greeted by the sold out crowd. Having seen this stunning sensation perform once before, I was beyond excited to see Kimbra take on this larger and more electric Pittsburgh audience that was before her. To say that she owned the stage would be an understatement. Embodying all the strong characteristics that an opening act should have, Kimbra’s beautifully powerful voice rang out throughout the amphitheater which was greeted by the roars of the crowd between each song. Possessing a stage presence that is similar to Lady Gaga in terms of demeanor, Kimbra had the ground floor alive with energy. Tracks such as “Like They Do on the TV” and “Love in High Places” are almost impossible not to dance along to. Closing out her night with the absolute banger “Top of the World” was the perfect way to leave audience members hungry and hyped for ODESZA to come. With such a large crowd forming early on, even during the torrential downpour that lasted half of her set, it was really great to see just how many people came out to catch Kimbra’s electrifying opening performance. Having flown under the radar for sometime since she was featured on Goyte’s world-renowned hit, “Somebody That I Use to Know”, it seems that Kimbra is finally getting the much needed recognition she has been deserving of with her musical work.
After the kickass show that Kimbra put on, my expectations were extremely high to see what made ODESZA’s live shows so worth attending. With preparations complete and the stage set, the lights dimmed and a sort of “2001: A Space Odyssey” aesthetic enveloped the stage. Displaying stunning visuals of a vast galaxy on a giant LED screen, the anticipation was building and building for the masterminds of ODESZA, Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight, to light up the night. Their intro of “A Moment Apart”, fit perfectly with the atmosphere at the time. As Mills and Knight finally took their respective places on stage to the ear-splitting eruption of sound from the crowd, the pair immediately kicked it up with their track titled “Bloom”. Having a drumline in front with Mills and Knight in the back on a raised platform, I couldn’t decide which was more jaw-dropping: the astounding display of visuals and lights before me or the blaring sounds that were making their way into my brain. It was a pleasant feeling of sensory overload watching what was taking place on stage. Hyping the crowd up even more following this intro of epic proportions, the dudes of ODESZA followed up with “I Want You”, “All We Need”, “Show Me”, until they finally landed on “Say My Name” which seemed to be what many were waiting for. Arguably being one of the songs that landed ODESZA on the path to mainstream success back in 2014 when they released their sophomore album In Return, the catchy hooks and addition of recording artist, Zyra, make it a song anyone can easily move around and get loose to. This was evident in the fact that the entire crowd was raving hard with almost every abled-bodied person in attendance either dancing exuberantly or at least nodding their head along to the sound that was filling the air around them. Being one of the forerunners that made the EDM “chill wave” movement as prominent as it is today, it really is no surprise that ODESZA is able to fill stadium throughout the world with apparent ease.
With this latest tour being titled and centralized around their 2017 release of A Moment Apart, you can tell that ODESZA is beginning to branch out with their sound. As mentioned previously, ODESZA has usually been associated with a more laid back or “chilled” form of electronic dance music, but that seems to not be the case with some tracks off of A Moment Apart. Songs such as “Boy” and “Meridian” are filled with trap-heavy beats and bass drops that seem to make the very Earth shake; all to true when Knight and Mills played these scores live, absolutely mesmerizing the crowd and reminded me of a seismic volcano eruption with the CGI’d lava swirling around them on stage. Finishing out their set with their most streamed song on Spotify with a staggering 106 million plays and counting, ODESZA gave the crowd of 5,000+ exactly what they paid for and more. Whether it be the thousands of eager faces that looked up in awe at what was being performed on stage, the level of intensity that Mills and Knight came out with, or the stunning display of visuals/lights, ODESZA really drove home the point that music should be heard and seen.