RL Grime & Company in Review

If you wanted to party at WOW Hall this winter, this was your best chance

All photos by Athena Delene

If I learned one thing at the RL Grime DJ set at WOW Hall Jan. 25, it’s that Eugene doesn’t need Sunday to be an end to the weekend — for many, it could have be their highlight.

The RL Grime set was the kind of performance that made many sweat with more perspiration than they’d collected at the fancy new UO recreation center. If you wanted to party at WOW Hall this winter, this was your best chance.

Last weekend was fruitful for electronic music at the venue. On Friday night, the UO Cultural Form presented a DJ set headlined by Purity Ring frontwoman Megan James, featuring opening acts Octonaut as well as talented, emerging local producer Tetra Bomb. Sunday, many fans returned. However, many that came early to see opening act Tommy Kruise appeared to be of a younger demographic than the prior show. Kruise performed with good energy, warming up the crowd for a long night to come.

During his set, I noticed the bass made it feel as if my phone was vibrating constantly even though I wasn’t getting any notifications. Instead, I focused on catchy remixes of pop songs reminiscent of most frat parties across the West Coast, except these were mixed live on stage, which always adds an extra bit of showmanship to any electronic music performance.

One moment some may have forgotten once the show had ended, however, caused some early excitement. During the first set there was an incident, quickly resolved, in which security and a fan engaged in a scuffle in the crowd — resulting with both parties sprinting away from the dance floor and the public eye.

Later in the night, I was particularly impressed with Montreal-born DJ and producer Lunice, who was characterized by impressive charisma and electrifying stage presence all set long.

Along with Scottish electronic musician Hudson Mohawke, Lunice makes half of side project TNGHT. The two have performed at Coachella music festival and, most notably, helped produce “Blood on the Leaves” for Kanye West on Yeezus (2013). During his set at WOW Hall, Lunice’s professionalism was on full display. He successfully convinced those reluctant to get on the dance floor to promptly start the night and get moving.

His was a blistering, memorable sound wall created by an abundance of bass. As the night progressed, the crowd appeared to get older as the younger folks headed home. Soon, Lunice was rocking a shirt over his head to make it look like he was a ghost while he performed. It was partly psychedelic and mostly awesome to watch. As the show progressed, I noticed the strobe light on stage became more and more dominating.

In a move that forecasted much of the RL Grime set, Lunice set the trend for remixes of Kanye West —specifically tracks from Yeezus, including a memorable a capella rendition of “Blood on the Leaves” with lights on the crowd, signaling them to sing along. This show felt like a Kanye tribute show and sparked an interesting thought: How much longer will Yeezus remixes survive as popular remix fodder once Kanye releases new music?

His last song was a super relaxing “vibey” remix of “Up” by Whiz Khalifa. For those unfamiliar, the hook of the Khalifa track goes: “Everything is better when you’re high.”

By the time RL Grime came to the stage, the crowd was ready to let loose. Towards the beginning of his set, he asked the crowd, “How is everyone doing tonight?” It didn’t appear to matter that it was Sunday, however, because once his set began it was hard to find another moment to catch your breath on the dance floor.

The 24-year-old producer, signed to the popular WeDidIt collective in Los Angeles, played danceable trap music with signature heavy bass. It was perhaps the most energetic I’d seen the dance floor in a long time at WOW Hall. I enjoyed that he did not shy away from sillier remixes, which he popularized with his oft-used RL Stein character around Halloween, including one “Lion King” remix.

Other hits included “CoCo” by OT Genasis, “0 to 100” by Drake and “M.A.A.D. City” by Kendrick Lamar. And then, the inevitable: “We goin’ up on Sunday night!” announced RL Grime, before playing the hit “Tuesday” by iLoveMakonnen.

My favorite was original song “Because of U” and it felt like the live performance of that track added an extra layer of depth and texture. I was also having a good time during the sing-along to Beyoncé’s “Drunk In Love”, when the entire crowd chanted “We be all night!” at 12:40 am.

After the final Kanye remix of the night (“Mercy”) and a kind fan in the crowd offered to let me look at the WOW Hall lights with the distortion of her 3D glasses, it was time to call it a night.

I left this performance more than impressed and also very excited about the current state of electronic music in Eugene.