By Sean Begin
A misperception exists about electronic music that since it’s made with a computer and not live instruments, it must not actually be music.
In reality, producing quality music on a computer requires the same amount of musical knowledge as does playing a guitar or sax or piano.
And when someone like Colorado-based producer Derek Vincent Smith, better known as Pretty Lights, comes along with knowledge of both styles, an amazingly organic blend of music is created.
Over the summer, Pretty Lights released his newest album “A Color Map of the Sun.” All of his work beforehand had been produced using samples. But in his newest project, Pretty Lights brought in live session musicians to record his own samples. These were pressed to vinyl and used as samples for “Color Map.”
Pretty Lights took this concept to the road, putting together a live band, using some of those session musicians, on his current Analog Future Tour which stopped in Wallingford, CT Saturday night.
The tour, which kicked off just under a month ago, is Pretty Lights’ most ambitious undertaking yet.
Two keyboardists, a live drummer, and a brass section consisting of a trumpeter and a trombonist accompany Pretty Lights who even plays live bass guitar on occasion.
The live show was a perfect blend of electronic and instrumental music, the computer controlled music of Pretty Lights complemented by the drums, brass, keyboards, and piano.
Blending songs both old and new, Pretty Lights had the whole of the Oakdale Theater dancing to his beat, all while a well-choreographed light show helped set the mood.
Playing for about two and a half hours, Pretty Lights brought the crowd through a multitude of musical highs and lows, showcasing his ability to play on the emotion of a crowd. The live band moved seamlessly with Pretty Lights, ready to play any song he chose.
He dropped, among others, “Vibe Vendetta”, “One Day They’ll Know” and “Go Down Sunshine” off the new album and classic songs like “More Important than Michael Jordan” and “I Know the Truth,” all seamlessly accompanied by the live instrumentation on stage.
Perhaps in a nod to daylight savings time, he also played his remixes of Pink Floyd’s “Time” and The Steve Miller Band’s “Fly like an Eagle,” both of which had the crowd moving.
The stage set up only added to the show, with each member of the live band getting their own platform to stand on, each one edged in light. As his name suggests, the lights were nothing but pretty, and would darken to red and blue or brighten to purple, green, and yellow depending on the mood of the song being played.
The tour has featured a plethora of artists, but for his stop in Connecticut, Pretty Lights brought along SuperVision and heRobust.
A longtime member of the Pretty Lights Music label, SuperVision kicked the night off with a traditional DJ set, playing an electro funk style of music characteristic of PLM. Using vinyl records and a pair of turntables, SuperVision gave a lesson on where DJ started, showing off his skills at scratching and juggling records.
Following him was Atlanta-based trap producer heRobust, whose affinity for puns is evident in his moniker. Trap originated in Atlanta and heRobust provided his own take on it, breaking up the funky mood of the other two acts with a bass heavy set that had the whole room grooving.
The performance was easily one of the best to pass through Connecticut this year and was a perfect example of how musical electronic music really is, especially in the hands of someone whose passion for it is evident in the show he puts on.
More than just a traditional DJ set, the Pretty Lights live band is Derek Vincent Smith’s vision of a unique electronic dance experience that showcases his unique brand of “electrohiphopsoul” music.