A year ago we made Part 1 of our Top 10 EDM acts that play live instruments and to see how far the crossover between rock and even classical music has merged with electronic production is astounding. Make sure to follow these artists so you can see them on tour because that's where you can truly enjoy their craft. More and more artists are going towards these improvisational live setups. This list will introduce some new faces and honor some veterans as well.
1. Lindsey Stirling
29 year-old California native Lindsey Stirling is redefining how we look at electronic music, blending classical instruments and dubstep. She wields the violin and her YouTube channel was the platform for a breakout year in 2014. Her electronic/classic crossover style wasn't popular with many labels or agencies at first, but Stirling won over audiences with a self-made approach. Her 2015 sophomore album “Shatter Me” won Best Electronic Album of the Year, voted on by Billboard. Perhaps she has struck a chord with a new generation of musicians and electronic fans alike.
2. Booka Shade
Active since the early 90's, Booka Shade started in Frankfurt, Germany as a synth-pop duo with Walter Merziger and Arno Kammermeier. They remain active today with a live setup that focuses on rhythm and percussion, a style that carries over into a club setting or any other venue. As you can see below in their live performance, Booka Shade has a stimulating sound. They've opened for Depeche Mode, Moby, Hot Chip, Kings of Leon, Wooded, The Knife, and many more. They've collaborated with classical pianist Lang Lang in live shows. They have also made five studio albums, their first coming in 2004 (Memento). They've been awarded “Best Live Act” by various publications as well since 2006.
Watch ten minutes from their set at the HMV Forum in London in 2010. Check out tour dates here.
3. Duke Dumont
He's taken house music into a more formal band form. Some are going this route, but few have executed a live setup like Duke Dumont. Previously a house DJ only, his expanded live setup is turning heads this year with a key player and percussion. He debuted the band at Coachella this year. By incorporating these elements into live house music, Dumont has given his scene a strength it did not have before. Now, he's taking the full live act on Tour. Look out for upcoming tour dates here. Watch his live show at T in the park via the BBC below.
4. Bloody Beatroots
Italian producer Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo had the year ‘1977' tattooed across his chest. This was the year that the Bloody Beatroots founder was born but it was also the same year punk rock emerged in the music world. In the video below, Rifo can be seen jumping around and implementing his form of “chaos” on stage with drummer Tommy Lee from Motley Crue helping out. Bloody Beatroots evolved from an electro punk band to what it is today – a reputable force in dance music. He's had releases on Dim Mak and Ultra Records while playing DJ sets across the world and bringing his rock from to dance music like none before him. Watch this video from 2012 with Tommy Lee.
Often performing with a mask on and removing human identity, Aaron Jerome (SBTRKT) excels at the details. Look no further than his latest album released earlier this month, Wonder Where We Land, which features collaborations from all across the music world from up and coming indie rock all-female band Warpaint to hip-hop star A$AP FERG. It's no surprise that SBTRKT attracts such versatile artists. Jerome combines dubstep with a two-step garage sound that focuses on his drum skills. In live performances, the percussion weaves in and out of various genre mashing – giving this project many layers. He will be touring India a few times this year, check out dates here.
Check out a live performance in his native London from 2011 below.
A Belgian rock band formed by guitarist David Dewaele and his brother/singer Stephen, the group started out in the early nineties with some early success after teaming up with drummer Piet Dierickx and bass player Stefaan Van Leuven. Cut from the vein of “Indie rock electro,” David and Stephen relied on influences like now inactive electronic band LCD Soundsystem. Sometimes playing under the alias 2manyDJs, Soulwax and its members continue to bend the perception of a production group. They have done remixes and singles for film, TV, and other award-winning artists from various statures in the music world. Check out a live performance below from the Lowlands in 2005.
7. Little Dragon
When SBSTRT (#4 on our list here) released his debut album, hip-hop superstar Drake took notice of the track “Wildfire,” featuring Little Dragon's singer Yukumi Nagano. Drake would remix the track on his own in 2011 (watch here). Nagano is the lead vocalist in this group, which is comprised of Håkan Wirenstrand on keyboard, Erik Bodin on drums, and Fredrik Fredrik Källgren Wallin on bass. Originally signed to an English indie label, their mainstream success stemmed from collaborations with artists like the Gorillaz, TV on the Radio, and Big Boi. Check out this live performance on KEXP below.
8. Black Tiger Sex Machine
Their bio on Facebook tells the story: “We perform a unique show which is part DJ-set, part live, in which we combine tracks, loops, drums, samples and synths into an intense barrage of sounds and beats, all while wearing our trademark Tiger Helmets.”
See a live demo below. This Montreal-based group is a trio that goes by three names: Foxed Up, Marx Menace and Wolfcall. In 2011, the group began their own label called Kannibalen Records.
When the “FYER” starts to burn, look out. These two multi-talented musicians met in line at the bank. Because of their talent and infectious energy, the pair make a terrific team that puts on a great show. Hailing from Texas, producer Bobby Duque (often wearing a fedora) and his partner Gabriel Guardian (who jams on guitar or whatever else is within reach) make up FYER. The two have a playful, rebellious presence on stage and their fans give the duo rave reviews. You can watch their live show in a video from last year below (for their single “The Lost” with Aloma Steele) and make sure to check them out at the links below for more info.
East coast-based band Papadosio is five dudes that truly have genre-defying records. Sometimes using harmonic elements of folk rock, the group is made up of Anthony Thogmartin on guitar (and composition), Rob McConnell on bass, Mike Healy on drums, and brothers Billy and Sam Brouse with keyboard/synths. From their website, one observer noted, “The band’s live improvisation not only keeps songs new and interesting, but also makes each concert a unique and unpredictable experience. The group’s playful, fluid tracks create a trance-like environment, spurring relaxation, dance and various other artistic expressions for its listeners.” It's true, the North Carolina-based group takes country, rock, and electronic elements and fuses them all together.
Check out a live performance below.
Honorable Mention: Moontricks
This duo project uses banjo, guitar, and all kinds of unique production to capture a sound that meets somewhere in-between classic blues rock and midtempo funk. With a lead guitarist by his side on stage, the live setup is similar to Gramatik or a Lowtemp show. If you're a fan of up and coming talents like Beat Fatigue, Moontricks is another name to familiarize yourself with as soon as possible. Check out a 2015 promo video from the duo and check out their latest performance at Shambhala in the Grove featured here.
Part 1 (2014)