The Odesza tour stopped in Chicago accompanied by the sweet sounds of Sofi Tukker. Hailing from Seattle, Harrison and Clay of Odesza unleashed the music in waves over the crowd. Sofi Tukker, comprised of Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern, opened the night by charging the crowd up with songs like 'Drinkee' and 'Awoo.' Read our review of the Saturday night concert in Chicago here.
Sofi Tukker: Drinkee The Night Away
In the window seat of aisle 23, I tapped the song ‘Fuck They’ by Sofi Tukker on Spotify. “I don’t give a fuck about they,” Sofi calmly pronounced into my headphones as the synths, soft bass, and bongo slaps gave a taste of the drop lying ahead. My fingers tapped the slide-out tray. Hips slipped into gyration. My head weaved in between my shoulders as the heels began to bounce. “That must be a good song,” said the woman sitting next to me on American Airlines. “Oh, it is,” I said.
Unconsciously, my body started to move to the beat as I waited to touch down for the show in Chicago. Sofi Tukker would be opening for Odesza as part of the ‘A Moment Apart’ tour at the UIC Pavilion. I’d be covering the the two DJ duos a with my sony digital and a rode mic.
Pulling up to the venue, I grabbed my passes and walked down the steps to the photo pit. Sofi Tukker leapt onto stage just as I finished hooking up my camera. Tucker donning zebra socks over red leggings, and Sophie sporting all white with bell-bottom pants, the two took the stage with a chemistry formed by only the closest of friendships.
The Book Tree, a six foot tall trunk branching into hardcover books and foliage, stood center stage. A collection of covers inspired by Sophie’s bond with Brazilian poetry, the books paired to a trigger mic firing different sounds. Tucker banged the books with drumsticks as Sophie danced, further pushing the connection between poetry and song verse.
Vibing to the addicting melodies, nobody in the crowd seemed to stop dancing to the dance inducing beat of 'Awoo.' Movement was taking over the pavilion. From Tucker’s overhead clapping behind the DJ board to Sophie’s slow head rolling under the spotlight, the audience fed off of the energy bursting from stage. Fighting the urge to let the music take over, I stopped swaying to keep my shots in focus.
As Sophie’s upper range played perfectly off of Tucker’s bass-powered vocals, the true soul of the duo infected the arena. The lights, bass lines, singing, and jungle-inspired atmosphere all perpetuated the place where the minds of Sophie and Tucker met. Even if five people stood in the crowd, the two would still dance back and forth in the same way they do in front of thousands. Sophie even noticed the people way up top dancing to the beat, their bottoms far removed from their seat.
“Let’s fucking go Chicago!” Tucker screamed into the mic as ‘Drinkee,’ their grammy nominated hit, sent waves through the pavilion. The intoxicating guitar riff heated up the stage as Sophie put the audience in a Portuguese lyrical trance. Tucker echoed her vocals in a low, earthy pitch as the tropical backbeat took over.
The towering Tucker, former pro basketball prospect, threw his hand up commanding the crowd to the beat. Sophie swayed back and forth, bright red guitar in hand, building up the melody for one last drop. By the end of the set, every person in the crowd seemed to be pulled into their electrifying, individual world.
Odesza Spends 'A Moment Apart in Chicago'
As the sounds of Sofi Tukker faded out, Odesza lurked on the horizon. The trumpet powerfully signaled to the crowd that the start edged closer. Just as the trumpet faded out, Harrison and Clayton of Odesza took the stage, drumsticks in hand, under a cream-colored, smoky light. Standing across from each other behind their respective DJ boards, Harrison and Clayton raised their drumsticks. The crowd roar thickened as a drumline of perfectly in-synch, black-hooded figures filed out to the stage front.
The light changed to violet as the snares ushered in the beginning of a joyride. Just as Sofi Tukker infused the crowd with movement, Odesza transported each person to a world defined by overwhelming reflection. Suddenly ceasing to strike, the snare line stood before us with their heads down and fists clenched around their sticks raised to the sky.
Commencing the first half of the show with classics, melodies from ‘All We Need,’ ‘Shy Girls,’ and other Odeszian staples washed over the arena. The horns pierced through masterful electronica providing an extra sense of hope as inspiring choruses rained down. Snares cracking to the beat, the drumline marched onto stage like an army commanded to make each song slap even harder. The lights cycled so in tune with the tracklist that the vibrant beams seemed to answer to the music instead of the technician. Images of cars, animals, and body parts flashed across the background, intensifying the aura.
Up close in the photo pit, I could see the expressions on faces. Drummers stayed stoic. Bass throbbing and lights dancing around them, their faces mimicked the cold, hard beat. The eyes and cheeks of horn players scrunched as they hit the highest and loudest of notes. Harrison and Clay fed off of the wide range of emotion, staying calm during blissful moments and letting loose for potent bass kicks. They jumped, crouched, twisted, and sang along as they commanded the crowd behind their DJ Boards.
The crowd witnessed guest appearances from Leon Bridges, Wynne, and Naomi Wild. Eyes closed and mouth stretched wide, Harrison belted the words as forcefully as Bridges in the midst of ‘Across The Room.’ Wild elevated the crowd with ‘Higher Ground’ and Wynne made us believe in something better during ‘Line of Sight.’
For a few moments when Wynne took the stage, I put down my camera. I had been snapping photos the entire night, but for one song I just wanted to look up without peeking through a lens. Head back watching from the pit, I turned my gaze up as the spotlight switched onto Wynne. For three minutes I felt nothing but happiness. People danced behind and to the side of me, but I stood still. I felt warm. Nothing else mattered. I held onto Wynne’s every word. “It’ll all be fine this time.” I believed him.
As the last song faded out, I thought about the meaning of Odesza’s album A Moment Apart. Life lays out millions of moments. The loss of a loved one, break-ups, sickness, the unsettling moments define us just as much, and sometimes even more than the happy ones. We all need to tackle these parts of our lives at some point, but it’s freeing to have break. Under the lights and in front of the stage, I felt apart from the moments that add to the struggle. For a few hours, I lived in the moment created by the sounds and stories of Odesza and Sofi Tukker.
This wasn’t an empty escape followed by a plunge back to reality when the music stopped. I stayed in a better place after the show, wanting to make others happy. The next day, I boarded the plane back to New York. ‘Line of Sight’ surged through my headphones as a I stared out the window. I looked below as the lights of Chicago turned to tiny dots, not knowing exactly where my life was heading. I still don’t. But after the last light went out on stage that saturday night, I saw things a little more clearly.