By Hazen Witmeyer @Hazengirl

OK, so I realize that The Chainsmokers are a huge international act. Everybody and their teenage daughter loves Drew Taggart and Alex Pall. After all, they won a Grammy and Closer was THE song of 2016.

This is very good news for this hit duo, of course. It means that as they go on the road with their new tour for the album Memories: Do Not Open (#MDNOTour), they have access to huge sold out arenas, massive pyrotechnics, and other high-production-value accoutrements that most EDM artists don’t get. But is it good news for their fans? I mean, their original EDM fans, like me, who loved the Chainsmokers before they were The Chainsmokers.

The answer is unequivocally yes – or at least it was in Tampa, at the second stop on the MDNO tour.

Backing up a little bit, I have been following the act since #Selfie, their first semi-cross-over single. I have seen them perform at a festival (SMF), a group concert (Jingle Ball), a night club (Jewel in Las Vegas), and now headlining an arena scale show (#MDNOTour). Generally I prefer to see my DJs in a nightclub because it tends to be an intimate setting. Fortunately, the Closer VIP package for MDNO which included soundcheck, a meet and greet photo op and early floor entry, created an equally personal dynamic.

We were told to check in 4-5 hours before the show started for the VIP package. We stood in line for a very long time before check-in, where we received a little swag, and then waited in line another very long time before the sound check. However, once the sound check was underway, things moved a long at a good pace.

After a couple of songs at sound check, including “She Wants to Break Up Every Night” we were ushered into the backstage area where our meet and greet and photos would occur.

For me, the photo opportunity was the whole point of getting the VIP package, so I didn’t hesitate to make conversation with Drew and Alex in the 30 milliseconds I was given to take a picture with them. Drew commented on my face bling (yes, that’s kind of my thing), and I chatted with him about it so long that Alex had to apologize to the next person in line for my eating up her time.

The big takeaway of this story is not that Drew likes face bling, or that Alex is a conscientious dude, but rather that they were both present and engaged with their fans, even in this forced, rushed situation.

The show itself was glorious: props, aerial lifts, fire, even choreography. Lots of Drew on Instruments and vocals. They played many of the songs that got them to where they are: “Roses”, “Closer”, “Don’t Let Me Down”, as well as new collaborations from MDNO like “Something Just Like This.” Vocalist Emily Warren took the stage, who is featured on “Paris”, and also a YouTube phenom Tony Ann, who covers their music with classical piano, joined the band as well. Down on the floor at the front, the view was amazing: we literally got to touch Drew during his late-show crowd pass.

Note to parents: opener Kiiara’s vocal content is not appropriate for young kids. Note to EDM fans: Kiiara is awesome.

In short, MDNO offers something for all Chainsmokers fans, and the VIP experience is pretty cool. I hope Drew and Alex keep up the momentum as the tour progresses, and that they stay present and engaged in the face of super-stardom.

Did you see the show? Let me know what you think.