Flume Thrills a Sell-Out Crowd at Tabernacle
Following the release of his album Skin, Flume’s world tour was one of the most anticipated events of the year in every city he visited (or has yet to visit). Several of my friends and I all bought tickets immediately after the show was announced, and we had been waiting eagerly to hear his performance and to see his highly anticipated stage design, which we had heard about in rumors and leaks on music blogs.
I was even more excited when I found out that EPROM would be opening for Flume on this stop of the tour. EPROM is one of my absolute favorite rising producers in the bass scene and I was so excited to see him, and also curious to see how he would play to a room of Flume fans, who arguably prefer more chill and uplifting sounds.
EPROM played a great set, but for some reason the Tabernacle sound crew kept the volume way down during his entire performance. It was really disappointing to hear such a talented producer unable to showcase his sound. EPROM produces really bass-heavy music and it really sounded weak at the levels they were giving him, not to mention the crowd noise overwhelming it entirely. Instead of people dancing, most of them just talked over his set. The crowd was also absolutely shoulder-to-shoulder. We were at the very back of the room, just in front of the sound booth, and it was still difficult to get back to our group after making a run for over-priced beers and cocktails.
Between their ticketing relationship with LiveNation (TicketMaster), the price of their drinks, and their vague notion of what “oversold” looks like, The Tabernacle is rapidly slipping from its place in my top three Atlanta venues. For years, I have loved this place, and have seen some of my favorite shows of my life there, but the combination of ridiculous ticket fees and overcrowded shows are starting to wear on me. Even the younger folks there were clearly frustrated at their inability to move around anywhere without having to forcibly push through people, which nobody wants to have to do. I’ve been to plenty of sold-out shows at Terminal West and Aisle 5 and never had the same problems, as there is always enough room to breathe and move.
The one area where the Tabernacle always excels, however, is in stage backdrops. They have the stage space and vertical room to bring in some really impressive stage setups and I’ve seen some amazing stage designs at shows like Sleater-Kinney and Excision, and this Flume show was no exception. In addition to a booth made of infinity mirrors and LED panels, he also had a giant rig floating above his head of asymmetric boxes of LEDs, with semi-transparent reflective material in them which made it shine and shimmer really nicely.
Flume had loads of gear on stage, but it was hard to tell which parts of his set were live and which were just him DJing, except for at a few points where he leaned dramatically on his drum pad and pounded out a beat. The real treat of the show was his visuals, which were stunning and walked a thin line between psychedelic chaos and sublime beauty. Most of his visuals were derived from either flowers or weapons of some sort, leading to an interesting dichotomy of messages behind his music, and everything was 3D rendered. At one point, a giant demon appeared on stage, before slowly melting into goo and then assembling itself once again.
Flume put on a great show, with all his hits represented, and some interesting live edits of other people’s work, too. He played his edit of “Core” by RL Grime, which is a solid favorite of mine, and mixed some of his songs together with some really surprising and interesting transitions. At the end of his set, he abruptly said goodnight and walked off stage, but this was just a teaser for an encore. I personally think encores are a pretty lame gimmick, but the crowd went nuts when he gave them a few more songs to close out the night. He thanked everyone profusely for supporting his “computer music,” and genuinely seems excited to play for such an excited audience.
The crowd was mostly very young, and so the air was filled with screams and screens all night. It seems that everyone these days is obsessed with recording every show they go to, which I think is a real shame, because not only are they missing the show itself, but it’s an obstruction for anyone behind them, distracting from the stage lights and blocking the view. If you have any curiosity about what a Flume show looks like, just search YouTube, because if the number of cell phones in the air is any indication, there will be about 500 videos of his performance online. Fortunately, I’m tall enough to see over most of them, but it does make me wonder whether anyone else actually saw the show that night in reality, or if everyone’s experience was just coming at them through a 4.7” screen. After all, who needs memories when you have footage?
Photos by Teddy Williams for Bullet Music.