XXYYXX+Chrome Sparks at North Park Observatory

XXYYXX has been a name in the underground electronic world for quite some time. In 2012 he dropped his self-titled album that is still garnering him attention five years later. While he hasn’t put out a plethora of new music since his most well known LP, he has kept himself busy and his pockets full by consistently touring and performing at shows and festivals throughout the years. He is currently on tour with similar themed DJ, Chrome Sparks. On Dec. 1 they played a show here in San Diego, at the North Park Observatory.

Chrome Sparks opened up with a fun and elastic set, keeping relatively small crowd on their feet in anticipation for the headliner. These were both planned to be DJ sets rather than a live set, in the sense that both artists were expected to play more of not only their own music, but generally more upbeat danceable tunes. Some attendees might not have realized this, as I overheard multiple times from within the crowd that the music that was being played did not quite match up with the tempo of the artists own music.

After about an hour and a half, the anxious crowd was met with the set they were waiting for. XXYYXX came out, and just like his opener, played a blend of his own tunes with those that were equally alternative but had enough kick to keep you moving. Even with tracks to make you bounce, the maximum excitement was achieved when XXYYXX played his most popular songs off of his self titled album. It’s amazing to think that even five years later people still listen to and love that album enough to support it and it’s creator.

Overall it was a fun, intimate show where you didn’t have to worry about being squeezed shoulder to shoulder just to listen to some of your favorite songs. Fans who were unaware of XXYYXX’s difference in produced music and live shows were definitely in for a surprise. That is a surprise that I enjoyed every time I have seen him, and hope to keep enjoying in the future.

Virtual Self: Porter Robinson’s New Project

Porter Robinson, one of EDM’s massive names, seems to be taking a break from his usual musical style. Many know him from his “Worlds” album that dropped in 2014, or his collaboration with Madeon on the hit single “Shelter.” Despite all of Porter’s recent success, he seems to be putting work released under that alias aside for a new project. On Oct. 25, Porter tweeted about a new project he was working on called Virtual Self. This announcement tweet came with a link to Virtual Self’s first single, “EON BREAK.”

Virtual Self, while clearly influenced by Porter’s original sound, stills stands out and is able to establish itself as an individual force. Virtual Self carries over some of the fantasy-like, anime inspired sounds Porter is known for, and expands and experiments with these sounds on its new singles.

The Virtual Self single “EON BREAK” is a face paced flurry of drums and pulsating electronic melodies. It might initially sound like “EON BREAK” would benefit from even more speed, but by the end of the song the choice to keep it slower is understandable. The climax of “EON BREAK” sounds as if you’re being shot through an other-worldly portal at light-speed.

Almost two weeks later, Virtual Self dropped its second single, “Ghost Voices.” This track juxtaposes “EON BREAK’s” barrage of noise with something a bit more down tempo. A steady rhythm guides the song from beginning to end, with a heavenly trance of a beat that could either infatuate listeners or leave them desiring a bit more. In between and mixed throughout this track are ethereal vocals that are equal parts soothing and hypnotic.

This only looks like the start of Virtual Self’s career, as Porter subsequently tweeted out Virtual Self’s very first live show. After what we’ve heard so far, one can hope that there are more singles on the way, or maybe even an EP. I think previous fans of Porter’s will enjoy this redistribution of sound, and new listeners now have the ability to explore something unique and fresh.

***UPDATE*** Porter Robinson tweeted on Nov. 17 that Virtual Self’s EP will be out on Nov. 29.

Featured Image: Retrieved from here.

Artist Spotlight: Charlotte Cardin

Alternative pop artist Charlotte Cardin’s musical career followed a path unfamiliar to other artists. Prior to music, the Canadian vocalist initially worked as a model before joining the competitive singing show, “La Voix,” in 2013. Growing up in Canada, her parents taught her to speak French as well as English. Landing herself in the top four of that season garnered some attention to herself and her vocal ability. This was the beginning of her musical career.

In 2016 she released her first EP, “Big Boy.”¬†This EP stands out for having tracks not only sung in English, but in French as well. Cardin’s music is a blend of pop, electronic and alternative, which puts her in the slew of artists that don’t fit nicely into any preconceived genre. Most of her tracks have a somber tone, that often saunter along from verse to verse.

In the following year of 2017, Charlotte came right back with her debut LP, “Main Girl,” in early September. Her newest record contained some of the songs from her previous EP, but had some new tracks as well.¬†With a voice somewhere between Amy Winehouse and Florence Welch, Charlotte sings over music that bounces between rhythmic drums and guitar chords, and pulsing electronic kicks. Beyond her albums, Charlotte has also released a number of singles and remixes that do not appear on either her newest LP or EP.

Besides her commercial success, Charlotte Cardin has also been nominated for a number of awards for her songs and songwriting. In 2017, she became the first artist in the history of the SOCAN Songwriting Awards to be nominated in both the French and English category. These nominations are well-earned, as her music not only offers a mixture of traditional genres, but of languages as well. Charlotte Cardin’s musical career seems only to be just beginning, and with how quick she has put out tunes prior, hopefully we’ll have more to listen to from the Canadian artist soon.

Flying Lotus in 3D at North Park Observatory

Flying Lotus brought his psychedelic beats to San Diego just in time for Halloween. The wild beat veteran didn’t just decide to do a regular ol’ tour, though. Instead of just going city to city playing his music, FlyLo decided to up the ante by adding 3D visuals.

FlyLo has been known to have crazy stage setups to create a visual performance along with the music for audiences. Knowing this, it comes as no surprise that he would include this extra element of experience for his current tour.

Now, the big question in my mind heading into the show was how exactly was he going to achieve 3D for the audience.

This question was answered immediately as I entered the venue and was handed a pair of custom 3D glasses for the FlyLo tour. Opening for FlyLo was a DJ named Pbdy, pronounced pea-body. He played a variety of unpredictable and off the wall electronic music, something one would expect to precede an act like Flying Lotus.

After about 45 minutes of the opener, the man himself came out with an infectious smile for the restless crowd. We were told to put on our 3D glasses, and then our journey began. What was once a flat LED screen turned into a portal to another dimension. Floating heads, bizarre patterns and endless grids flew around and past FlyLo as he performed his set. Rather than using a playlist of his own songs, he played more of a DJ set of his own tracks mixed with others. At one point, he even switched to his alter ego rap artist Captain Murphy and performed a few of those songs live.

The 3D was mesmerizing, and FlyLo’s charisma kept the audience excited and lively. There did seem to be some audio issues at certain times throughout the set, which was a bit disappointing as the tracks being played at the time lost some of their chutzpah. However, it was still a fun show, and it was cool to see the creativity implemented with the 3D visuals. Even if you left dissatisfied with the show, at least you left with a free pair of 3D glasses.