The Hounds of Hell tour made its stop at Chicago's new Concord Music Hall last Friday night, and the line to the show stretched on for several blocks even before the doors to the venue opened. Sparkly tutus, floral headbands and crop tops gave off a summer festival vibe despite the chilly breeze. Festival-garb coupled with the multiple group photos going around me, I could already feel the crowd brimming with excitement and camaraderie just by standing in line.
From outside, Concord Music Hall seemed like a small venue, and I was began anticipating an overtly crowded space. Once inside, I was pleasantly surprised – the space opened into levels of balconies and the main floor. My friends and I stood near the center front of the main floor to see Bass Kleph enter the stage. Clad in a black hoodie, Bass Kleph got the crowd energy up for the two headliners.
Hailing from Australia and now firmly established in LA's EDM club scene, Bass Kleph brought his 12 years of experience behind the decks to the Concord by revving up the crowd with hard-hitting heavy beats that vibrated the entire dance floor. The lights bounced around the stage and dance floor to reveal Neon shirts moving up and down and kandi bracelet-clad wrists all waving in the air in beat to the music. Bass Kleph especially got the crowd engaged in a unanimous chant with a remix of Zombie Nation's Kernkraft 400. “Who's ready for Tommy Trash and Wolfgang Gartner?” he asked the audience, to which he got a wild wave of cheers and hoots in response.
As Blass Kleph ended his set, the lights went off and everyone immediately chanted “Tommy Trash! Tommy Trash!” The stage setup, which had been covered up during the opening DJs' sets, was uncovered to reveal a lit-up cross on both sides of the stage, reminiscent of Justice's cross logo. The stage unveil also featured a huge backdrop for the visual display, which soon featured Tommy Trash's name to welcome the first headliner of the night.
Tommy got into his music and felt the crowd's energy as he headbanged with the beats, his long curls flying everywhere. Tommy focused most of his set on his own music which showcased his signature, euphoric synths and dancelifting beats, while mixing in some Swedish House Mafia, Deadmau5 and a crowd favorite to “sing” along to – “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat” by Calvin Harris and Riva Starr. He also played some of his collaborations with other artists, including his collab with A-Trak for Tuna Melt, which I wish he had played for longer instead of teasing us with just a small snippet. I was also glad to hear his track “Monkey See, Monkey Do,” which conjured up clips from its distinctive Muppets-vibe Music Video. His final track of the night, “Reload” with John Martin's vocals, brought back memories from hearing “Reload” at Swedish House Mafia's last performance at Ultra.
Finally, it was time for Wolfgang Gartner, one of my favorite artists of all time. Even before the man himself got on decks, the sound system repeated his name, further building up everyone's anticipation. Finally, behind the stage smoke and foggy lights, I could make out the unmistakable silhouette of Wolfgang. Just like his previous sets at Spring Awakening and EDC Vegas, his set at the Concord did not disappoint.
I absolutely loved how he played the air piano for all the melodic parts of his music, where he seemed to conduct the length and pitch of the different notes with the side-to-side and up-and-down motion with right hand. What I loved about his set this Friday (and all of his sets in general) was that he never plays the same top 15 EDM songs that all the other DJs play, and he keeps true to his own style and music – and even when he plays his classics, he changes things up a bit so there's always something new. So I felt that every time I hear his set, I'm bound to hear something new, interesting and different.
At the Concord, Gartner changed up the tempo a few times, slowing it down to transition into some old-school-like hiphop, only to pick up the tempo to go back to electro. Wolfgang also played around with the pitch, transposing the ends of some tracks to lead into another track. Throughout his whole set, I was constantly looking forward to what he would play next. Due to popular crowd demand, Wolfgang played well-deserved encores – “Flexx” and “Animal Rights,” the latter which I hadn't heard in what seemed like since Deadmau5 at Lollapalooza 2011, so it was definitely a nice surprise. My most favorite aspect of his set was that he had played 5 out of 6 of my top fave tracks – tracks which had inspired me to create a piano cover last year – so his set was especially special for me that night.
After a 4 month hiatus of going to shows (EDC Vegas really had worn me out in June), it was great to get back into shows with the Hounds of Hell concert and immerse myself in the lights, music and dancing all over again.