By Hazen Witemeyer @Hazengirl
Honestly, I wasn’t even planning to review the Galantis set at Shaky Beats music festival in Atlanta. It’s not that I don’t love Galantis (who doesn’t?) but rather, I’ve seen them a number of times and it seems like they have been perfecting basically the same performance each time.
What changed my mind was two things. First, in seeing how incredibly excited were some of their fans who had never before seen them play, I was reminded of how excited I was the first time I saw them, when I flew eight hours and 3000 miles round-trip to watch them play. Also, even though they are huge international recording artists, they came out from their trailer in secret to take a picture with me and other uber-fans.
If you haven’t seen Galantis before, it truly is a fantastic show. There are multicolored lights, carbon dioxide bursts, drums, and flag-waving. There are frenetic sections of activity behind the turntable that look like they are mixing music. And there is a guest appearance by their mythical mascot the seafox (who I for a long time thought was a featureless cat). Whether in a nightclub or at a festival, you can expect these thematic elements from the Swedish duo’s performance.
For the two girls from Alabama next to me on the rail at the front, this was an experience of a lifetime and definitely one worth waiting for. Often, in fact, usually, when I am at an EDM show, I am very clearly the biggest fan of the artist playing. In this case, these girls had me by a mile. They stood in the same spot all day preparing for Galantis, through music from artists like Flatbush Zombies that is so different and not their style that it must have been nearly painful for them. They could not contain their excitement when the lights dimned and opening bars from “Runaway” (U&I) filled the air, and in that moment, I felt their passion and love for Galantis. Suddenly, it didn’t matter that I had seen many elements of the show before. From that point on I lost myself in the music.
The set was designed for short attention spans: frequently, they would play a track only through its first chorus. This was a challenge for those of us who love to dance (sober) in that they played a lot of hi energy, up beat songs, and just when you’re starting to groove, the tempo changed. The good news was, you never got stuck listening to a song you didn’t like for more than a few bars.
Many of their original tracks were remixed a bit, but not to a point beyond recognition. I appreciated this, as it felt like they put a little oomph into the music. I was hoping to hear my favorites like “Peanut Butter Jelly”, “Firebird” and “Put Your love on Me” – and I was not disappointed. (They also played “No Money”, though I don’t to claim this as a favorite.) They played a new track debuted a day before called “Hunter”, which I found to be fun but not uniquely memorable. My favorite song was one I hadn’t heard much before but have added to my playlist since: “Louder, Harder”, Better. They also played surprisingly good remixes of Whitney Houston’s “I Want to Dance with Somebody” and Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You”.
Shaky Beats is still a small enough festival that anyone playing off the main stage will by default be only a few feet from fans when coming offstage. Following their exit from the stage and return to their trailer, all that separated Galantis and me was a 5 foot, mesh covered wire fence that provided scant protection my screams, “We love you, please come take a photo!” While everyone else went off to go see Kaskade, the uber-fans from Alabama and another girl spied and joined me in my request. After the crowd was gone, security escorted Galantis back out to take exactly one picture – with us! It was one of the coolest moments of the festival for me, and probably the coolest moment in the lives of my passionate, adhoc compadres.
So what is the moral of the story? Go hard. Even if you’re over it. You might discover why you went hard in the first place, and you’re much more likely to have a wonderful, memorable experience than if you didn’t try.