Flume’s sounds and stage satisfes fans

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In my many nights spent at The Pageant, one of St. Louis’ greatest gems, I have never experienced a concert and crowd quite like Flume’s. The youth of St. Louis County seemed to get dropped off by their parents in hordes, and for the first time in my life, I felt like I was older than the majority of an audience at a concert. For reference, I’m 19. Despite the majority of the crowd being in high school, the energy in the building was undeniable. The sold-out show packed the venue from wall to wall, with some sections near the stage so crowded that there wasn’t room to move. And although Flume was who the crowd was clearly there to see, there were two largely unknown openers who had to win over the crowd on Friday evening.

First up on the bill was Charles Murdoch. Hailing from Australia, his music was great as an opener, but unfortunately did not go very far. It would build with very little movement and no climax. It was a hybrid that leaned towards ambient and slow-building electronic but then every so often would sound like a half- hearted attempt to get the crowd to rage. Forty-five minutes is a long time for the first opener to receive, and unfortunately Charles did not use it to his advantage. Instead, it was good background music to talk over.

The second artist, Mr. Carmack, was a different story. Coming out only minutes after Murdoch left the stage, he immediately set a different tone, and for the better. With drops that could create a seismic reaction, and the perfect amount of original songs and remixes intertwined throughout his set, the crowd was treated to an hour of unique and amazing EDM music. Carmack obviously has love for Kanye West, starting his set with “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 2,” and remixing four other Kanye songs throughout the hour. These energized the crowd and were perfect segues into his original music, which less of the crowd would have been familiar with. At the end of the hour, Carmack quietly left, and the Los Angeles producer set the bar high for Flume.

That bar was knocked down and surpassed by great lengths approximately two minutes into Flume’s set. A curtain fell during opening song “Helix,” and from there the show was a lesson in sound—and often the lack of it. After all, Flume’s sound has been quite revolutionary in the fact that it capitalizes on the absence of sound just as much as the actual sounds created. Throughout his hour-and-a-half set, Flume, also known as 24-year-old Harley Streten, pulled heavily from his 2016 album “Skin” with sprinklings of old songs that got him mainstream attention.

Almost every song seemed to get a louder reaction than the last, with his song “Sleepless” getting the first “everyone go bonkers” reaction of the night. It only heightened from there, when we got to experience his remix of “Tennis Court” by Lorde—which launched him into stardom—halfway through the set. From there on out, the show became a hit fest, showcasing “Never Be Like You,” “Say It” and “Drop the Game,” while the crowd sang along at the top of their lungs with every word. It is hard to believe that Harley only has two albums under his belt with the range of songs he played.

And while Flume’s music is really good, it was his stage setup that took the show to the next level. With a cubic table holding his equipment, and cubes hanging from the ceiling all around the stage, it felt as if all of Picasso’s deepest dreams came true. The cubes projected various colors and lights all while a giant LED screen took concertgoers on a trippy experience of plants growing, abstract visuals and warm hues of color that all seemed to vibe with the music perfectly. It all combined to make a multi-sensory experience that was nothing short of phenomenal. Whoever does the lighting and stage design for Flume’s shows deserves a giant high five.

It felt as if something was lost in the experience of the show, though, because there was no room for people to really dance. The limited space led to many fist bumps from the crowd, but Flume isn’t exactly a “fist-bumping” artist. His music needs to be experienced in a more spread-out setting, either an arena like Chaifetz or in a giant field at a festival. The good news is that I have no doubt in my mind that Flume will graduate to much larger venues by the time he returns to St. Louis and there will be ample room for fans to dance. Te only lingering question will be if his fans have graduated high school by that time. We can only wait and see.