Last Night: Pretty Lights at Bayou Music Center
Having closed out Free Press Summer Fest to help ring in the unofficial start of summer it made it a strange sort of sense that Pretty Lights would return to Houston to help ring in the fall.
Although the stage at the Bayou Music Center isn't as big as the one that was erected in Eleanor Tinsley Park, you might not have noticed; between the mass of lights and lasers assembled on stage and the rumble of the bass coming out of the speakers it had the look and feel of a big festival show, albeit one with the benefit of air conditioning.
Sunday night isn't a typical night for dancing, but Pretty Lights (born Derek Smith), isn't your typical EDM producer. Those fans that came out and risked the tired Monday morning after were rewarded with a powerful set of new tunes, old favorites and some interesting remixes.
After a countdown to the start of the set, Smith hit the stage flanked on both sides by LED screens that spent most of the night pretending to be a city skyline. It's a fitting image, because he makes music that sounds like the soundtrack to an urban drama that doesn't exist yet.
Whether he was bringing back the funk or venturing in to the future of electro, the core of Smith's music is in the hip hop grooves that dominate most of his work. Those drumbeats are the thread that connects his work, no matter if the parts on top of it are made of soul samples or distorted synth leads.
It also makes his work extremely accessible to a variety of listeners. While it doesn't promote the hyperkinetic dancing found at your average Stereo Live show it does allow for different levels of grooving, from those who wanted to twirl their lights and dance their asses off to those content to stand to the side nodding their heads and occasionally raising their hands in the air.
Although his new songs are on point and fit in nicely with the rest of his material, things shined the most when it came to his remixes and old favorites.
Run-DMC's "It's Tricky" is a song that's been beaten to death by remixers, but somehow Smith managed to inject some new life in to the song. In particular was a dubstep breakdown that turned the entire floor in to an undulating mass, which is always fun to watch.
Smith later used another remix to great effect by starting off his encore with his take on the Chicago Bulls' theme music. Lesser but more accurately known as "Sirius" by the Alan Parsons Project, Smith turned the bit of prog-rock in to a dancefloor banger.