The Chainsmokers And The One Big Problem Plaguing All EDM/DJ Performances!

Photo by Frank Apollonio
I am a huge fan of dance music, whether it be Chicago House, industrial, old school funk, retro wave, or EDM.

Thing is, I am not alone in my adoration for all things EDM and DJ acts like The Chainsmokers (whose "Don't Let me Down" is currently #2 on the Top 40) are enjoying some very deserved success, but, as they seek to promote their music to a larger and larger audience through live performances, they reveal the Achilles heel of live performances in this most techno of decades.

See, the only problem with EDM is that there is no way to make pressing a few buttons, or scratching on a simulated turntable, look like a performance, or, for that matter, a skill.

I will submit as Exhibit A this recent performance by The Chainsmokers.



The first thing you will probably notice is the onslaught of high-tech visual stimuli coming at you from all directions. I was overwhelmed just by watching this on YouTube. If I had been there, I would have probably passed out. From boredom.

See, it's great to watch Andrew Taggert & Alex Pall try to look like they're actually doing something, but within 5 minutes, every last person in that stadium will tire of the flashy visuals and start thinking to themselves "Ain't none of these muthas onstage even pushed a PLAY button yet."

The chances are slim, I know, but I'm literally frightened of bumping into one of them after the show for fear of them asking me what I thought of the show.

I mean, do I commend them on their ability to become mere extras in their own performance because, hey, there's no way two dudes in t-shirts and ball caps can compete with flashing pink squares on a stadium-size jumbotron.

But imagine how laughable their performance would be if you removed the splashy video f/x. Now you're starting to see why Kanye cancels the whole show if one of his video screens can't make the gig.

You can actually see people in the audience become disappointed as they realize that they're not watching a live band, they're watching sound men. That's right, the only thing being performed on that stage is the occasional changing of volume between tracks or the ever-tricky turning of a knob to add a filter effect.

But you'd think that Blade Runner Jesus had just come back from the dead from all the flashy, pulsating visuals groping you like drunken Phys Ed majors at a frat party.

Who do we have to blame for all of this, you ask?  Pink Floyd, of course.

To their credit, Pink Floyd actually performed live onstage, but their reliance upon projected visuals succeeded in dwarfing the band members to the extent that, for decades, while they were bickering back and forth in court over one thing or another, their light show was touring the world without them to great success.

Well, at least the Chainsmokers and Skrillex and their ilk actually show up to press the requisite buttons and drop the necessary minimum of f-bombs and "put ya hands in the air".


Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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