There was plenty of feedback from last years article about our Top 10 EDM acts that play live instruments in their sets and for good reason – there's more than just ten artists taking live music in EDM to the next level – it's not just ten.
This year marks a new era for musicians in electronic dance music and we salute a new batch of guys (and some veterans) who look to make 2015 their year (and join our previous top 10 list that includes Disclosure, Pretty Lights, Big Gigantic, Gramatik, GRiZ, Empire of the Sun, Emancipator, Russ Liquid, Modestep, and Destroid. We know there are more than just these new 10 that capture what it's all about. Perhaps they'll make the cut in part 3.
See Also: Easiest Instrument To Learn
This list was compiled by 2 major factors: numbers of trips to Guitar Center each artist makes per month and how many non-EDM artists they follow on Soundcloud. Ok, not true. But each artist here has made something special in 2015 that marks their path, and we want to acknowledge their influence on the next generation. And most of all, we recommend seeing these great artists on tour!
1. The Glitch Mob
The three-piece band from Los Angeles consists of three members accomplished in their own right – Edward Ma (edIT), Justin Boreta (Boreta), and Josh Mayer (Ooah). The trio became famous for their live performances and continue to demand respect from the most respected artists. Many attendees from Coachella 2014 will admit that the Glitch Mob was their favorite set at the festival – known for a heavy sound that truly rocks. They play bass guitar and drums on stage. In an interview from last year, they discuss playing percussion parts from their controllers and writing for live improvisation.
Last year, the trio added a customized, painted set piece designed by movie set designers to accommodate their instrumental setup and add lights. It's called “The Blade.” Check out a GoPro video that captures The Glitch Mob at Red Rocks last year with the setup. Click here for tour dates.
2. Opiuo (The Opiuo Band)
Opiuo has been blazing a trail with his funky, glitch hop style for years now but the wave is finally starting to explode internationally in 2015. As the Kiwi native (who resides in Australia now) starts to tour the United States and play Lightning in a Bottle this month, he released a promo video (below) to explore his new band to accentuate his live act – which has always been his vision. His band members are some of his closest mates.
“The beauty of live music for me is really exciting things happen,” Opiuo states in the promo video below. “Especially with a live audience that’s tapped into the vibe that you’re on. It’s that combined risk and challenge that make it so much more exciting and endlessly rewarding when you nail it.”
3. The Prodigy
One of the pioneers of Big Beat and live electronic punk sets at raves, The Prodigy has been around since 1991 but they're still a prime force to be reckoned with in 2015 after releasing their latest album “The Day is My Enemy” (15 tracks) earlier this year. The Sussex natives will be on tour soon, set to invigorate audiences with their familiar hardcore, electronic punk style. Veterans to the scene, they are made of three members still full of vigor: emcee and vocalist Liam Howlett, Keith Flint on vocals, and Liam Howlett handling composition and keyboard.
Check out a live show from 2009 below and make sure to check out their 2015 tour dates. It will be interesting to see where The Prodigy picks up after some hiatus and if they can re-capture electronic music fans who don't hear their style of music very often. Their live shows will be the answer, as it was in the 90's when the band rose to prominence. Click here for tour dates in 2015.
No one can deny that when Haywyre began to set his foot in the EDM pool, all heads turned with impressed deliberation. Martin Vogt comes from a classic background in piano but his open-minded, thoughtful nature led to the incredibly unique project “Haywyre,” which continues to grow with the idea of an “everchanging” (title of one of his most popular singles) flow.
Although many artists and producers play keyboard live on stage, nobody does it like Haywyre. Watch this video who propelled his career last year – his interpretation of Michael Jackson's “Smooth Criminal.” Make sure to check out his library of music on Soundcloud. Click here for tour dates.
STS9 from Santa Cruz, CA is an incredible five piece electronic band originally from Atlanta that formed over a decade ago. The band consists of STS9 is Hunter Brown (guitar/sequences), Jeffree Lerner (percussion), David Phipps (keyboards/synths) and Zach Velmer (drums) and Alana Rocklin (bass).
As their Facebook page states, “In 2015, fans will be treated to STS9’s largest touring production rig ever, using the latest cutting edge sound and lighting to deliver one of the most visually stunning shows on the road today with undeniable sound to match it.” Make sure to check them out with Big Gigantic, Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, and others at Camp Bisco this July. Check out this awesome performance of the single “Kabuki” in Atlanta, Georgia two years ago. The performance features great solo performances and tasteful rock elements. Watch and go to their site for tour dates.
6. Chet Faker
Nick Murphy (Chet Faker) continues to impress. If you've had a chance to see the Aussie singer/songwriter/producer in 2015, you'll notice he's upgraded his live act. There's now a live band, he triggers more samples with controllers, and plays an array of instruments (sometimes with a band). For reference, check out this video from Lollapalooza Argentina with his usual drummer and guitarist. Solo, here's a cool set to watch with KCRW and talks about his style:
I played in bands when I was 18, indie rock bands. I have lots of ideas and I don't like waiting around for people to say, yes, I know. I think with electronic music, I like to be able to go off on a tangent and keep doing that. It's very hard to do that with all these gadgets and a band. But I do play with a band sometimes.”
Faker has an incredible voice which is only aided by his skills on the piano. You can check out his amazing performance live with Triple j from last year below. In some instances, he's even known to pick up a guitar (like we saw at the Fonda in LA earlier this year). He also played a B2B set with Bonobo at Coachella's Do Lab stage the same week.
EOTO lives by the moto, “all improvised, all the time.” Regarded highly by many critics who have seen them live and come away impressed, the live band duo of Michael Travis and Jason Hann have earned the reputation as one of the top bands you can see live and still maintaining EDM roots, playing Drum & Bass, electro, dubstep, house, and glitch hop.
Travis is known as the drummer and percussionist for the popular band Stringe Cheese Incident. Hann has an incredible background as well with String Cheese – and touring since age 12, eventually finding his way on tour with artists from various genres in Rock, R&B, Pop, Jazz, Latin, Latin-Jazz, Flamenco, African, Persian, Electronica, Techno and World. Together they started EOTO with Hann performing as a singer, percussionist, and some drumming as well to aid Travis – they rely on triggering samples and playing a “100% improvised approach.”
Check out the video of EOTO live at Sonic Bloom.
Walking around Southern California, it's hard not to notice all of the Tycho shirts on middle-aged white dudes. The band, however, is a Northern California project that's spreading like wildfire for good reason – their music is captivating and it's presented with absolute precision and great taste. When founder Scott Hansen decided to collaborate for the first time – with bassist Zac Brown – their recordedings led to the hit album Awake (released last year) and unprecedented acclaim going into summer 2015.
Tycho‘s downtempo, vintage style is full of relaxing melodies and acoustic sounds that are modern anthems for progressive yogis and surfers. Check out this recording below with the full live band at radio station KEXP Seattle. They play four hit songs starting with the single “Awake.” The band is made of main producer (and designer/photographer) Hansen, Brown, and Rory O'Connor on drums with Joe Davancens to help on bass and keyboard.
Make a date with Tycho on Tour in 2015.
9. Beat Fatigue
Here's a must-watch artist in 2015. An instrumental talent beyond his years, 25 year-old Robert Boogert (Beat Fatigue) from the Netherlands has a knack for putting a mean guitar lick on his electro jams and fat glitch wobbles to complement his bluesy rock style. He recently dropped an EP on Gramatik's label Lowtemp and looks to conquer a breakout year with an ever-growing fan base. Just listen to some of his tracks on Soundcloud.
His EP‘s tend to follow a certain groove as well, evolving with each release. The acoustic world continues to merge with electronica thanks to his brilliant prowess with a guitar and masterful dedication. Check out another amazing EP he recently released, “Funkaholics” (free) on Adapted Records and watch this video of him playing a Minor Swing Improvisation 2 years ago. More video and media coming soon – you'll want to stay tuned. You'll see that he plays guitar on stage, and that's exciting for a one-man show.
10. Caribou (Band)
Dan Snaith's path to success was an interesting one. He stole a sampler from his high school music department and the rest was history… sort of. He is known for many acclaimed albums and his studio work under the alias of Manitoba. However, he was sued by an artist carrying the name Manitoba and thus changed the name of his project to Caribou.
Since taking his studio project on the road, Snaith has adopted three band members who complete a rather unique and personable live band. This consists of Ryan Smith, Brad Weber, and John Schmersal. They've been touring for about ten years now – and now they seem as popular as ever. Check out Caribou on tour. Watch a recording of “Can't Do Without You”:
Porter Robinson used some live elements in his latest Worlds Tour, capturing audiences attention with some singing, live drums, and other traits. Check out a video of him talking about his new live setup here.
Keys N Krates from Canada is still the only “trap band,” a trio of drummer Adam Tune, keyboardist David Matisse, and award-winning turntablist Jr. Flo.