Concert Buzz

Pretty Lights


Charlottesville Pavilion

September 21, 2011

1 out of 5 2 out of 5 3 out of 5 4 out of 5 5 out of 5

by mgordenker

Lights in Charlottesville would have been hands-down the best concert I ever
attended, if not for an unruly crowd casting a shadow over the entire event. However,
I’ll start out my review by covering more positive aspects- the stylish Pavilion,
and superb opening act Big Gigantic.

being an outdoor venue, the Pavilion always dazzles with its acoustics and
aesthetics. I could clearly make out the music from several hundred feet away,
and bass thumped deep in my chest cavity as I approached the venue. The
Pavilion itself does not disappoint visually- it looks like a futuristic tent
stretched over a comfortably large concrete arena. The ticket collectors were
quick and efficient. Rather than performing invasive searches, the staff simply
checked my ticket, gave me a stamp, and sent me on my way. Inside, the music
grew deafening, but not to the point of painfulness or auditory distortion. Every
note was clear and sharp.

jamtronica duo Big Gigantic opened for Pretty Lights; a testament to Pretty
Lights producer Derek Smith’s growing fame. The Gigantic have more than enough
hype to host a concert of their own, and headlined in Charlottesville venues
several times since I enrolled in UVa two years ago. Their jazz-infused glitch
hop had already ignited the dancefloor by the time I got there, despite lacking
fancy lights or other extraneous equipment.

Big Gigantic
seemed to be perfectly in synch with the crowd, and slowly jacked up the tempo
as the feverish masses grew antsy for Pretty Lights to step on stage. After
blasting the feverish dancers in the front rows with their powerful
electro-bangers ‘Sky High’ and ‘Lucid Dreams’, the two took a moment to give
Charlottesville a shout-out for mustering up such a massive turn-out on an
otherwise quiet night. I had to agree- the main tent of the Pavilion was
completely full, and people had already begun spilling out onto the surrounding
grassland. Gigantic then closed with their brilliant remix of ‘I need a dollar’.
I thought it was interesting that they chose to crescendo their set with such a
slow song, but nobody seemed to mind. An entire sea of people had their hands
stuck firmly in the air, and seemed just as happy to be there as I was.

For me, this was
the high point of the evening. I was in the second row from the stage, everyone
around me was agreeable, and the Big Gigantic set had been absolutely fantastic.
However, the peacefulness didn’t last. Sensing the approach of Pretty Lights,
hordes of jerks shoved their way towards the front. Being 6’3”, I didn’t have many
problems holding on to my spot. Others were not so lucky- several girls were
swept away towards the back, to be replaced by obnoxious drunks and fratdaddies
who wouldn’t stop babbling about “how good this molly is.”

I sensed I would
be coping with these cro-magnons for the rest of the night, and my prediction
was absolutely spot-on. I had to use all my strength to avoid being pushed
around, and felt incredibly boxed in. My frustration grew as Pretty Lights set
up his equipment, and if he had come on five minutes later I might have
completely lost it. Luckily, the bickering subsided somewhat as the beat for ‘I
Know the Truth’ built, and Derek got into position on top his infamous “cityscape”
LED/laser array .

was my first time seeing Derek’s light show, and it was every bit as impressive
as my friends had told me. Derek had programmed his lights to display a futuristic
city shimmering in perfect sync to the music. Without such impeccable this
might have distracted from the music, but the perfect synchronization only
enhanced the shock and awe of my musical experience.

there was certainly a lot of shock and awe. Derek continued the theme of his
hard-hitting intro, shaking the Pavilion with ‘Keep ‘Em Bouncing’, ‘Hot Like
Sauce’, and his epic remix of Kanye’s ‘All of the Lights’. I counted no fewer
than three enormous subwoofers pumping bass into the open-air arena. Needless
to say, the crowd felt the face-melting levels of bass at their very core.

the extravagant light show and massive crowd, Derek managed to make the show
feel oddly personal. He thanked Charlottesville for our support time and time
again. At the end of the show, he even doled out high-fives to literally
everyone in the first couple rows, even stooping so he could reach the hands of
two legal midget girls! His enthusiasm was infectious, and I even caught a few
security guards dancing to the beats when they weren’t throwing free water
bottles to drugged-out and dehydrated members of the audience. Not only that,
but the Colorado producer took the time to come back for a 20-minute encore set
that can only be described as “superb”. Charlottesville was really feeling the

the sheer awfulness of the crowd can’t be stressed enough. Never before have I
had to put up with so many obnoxious and just plain inconsiderate concert-goers
before. Eventually I became fed up, and moved towards the back to find some
breathing room. If Pretty Lights’ Charlottesville audience is any indicator of
his support base, one would be wise to linger further back rather than deal
with the savages in the front rows. 

This review is the subjective opinion of the individual reviewer and not of ConcertBuzz

Rate this review:

Rating: 1.8/5 (68 votes cast)

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