Jai Wolf Brings The Spirit of Indian Summer to a Cold Night in Atlanta
I’ve only been to a few shows which I considered to be almost entirely future bass, but artists like Jai Wolf and San Holo are two memorable ones which stand out to me. They both have really captured a sound somewhere between sugary pop and bass-heavy trap that manages to keep the spirits of the audience high while keeping a dance floor going and putting some emotional punch behind the music at the same time. I have seen the last few moments of a Jai Wolf performance once before at a festival, but seeing him headline Terminal West was a chance to catch him in his element, in command of a show, and to see his creative vision shine.
As I entered the building, Norwegian producer Jerry Folk was DJing to the crowd, off to one side of the stage. The main DJ booth was surrounded by a giant rig that was waiting for the headliner, but wasn’t lit up to full effect yet. The musical choices of the opener reflected that, and things were fairly calm throughout his set. He played some crowd favorites, and jumped around genres a little, but by and large, I felt like it was just a good time to talk to friends and check out the merch table.
Chet Porter, whose set I sadly missed had the most interesting merch offerings I’ve ever seen, with things like “watch Chet Porter get a swirlie - $50” and “watch Chet Porter get tazed - $30." I didn’t get to witness either of these events, but from good sources, at least two tazings did happen back in the green room, so I hope he made some good money that night. Jai Wolf had the most merch on offer, with pins, hats, shirts, pink tote bags, and even little pillows cut to shape and imprinted with the image of a sleeping wolf. Fair to say, his audience was strongly represented by girls, and his merch selections cleverly offered his fans the sorts of things they would enjoy owning.
The crowd was certainly mixed, but I was surprised to see so many young people with LED gloves in the crowd, offering shows to each other, and lending a much more “EDM” atmosphere than I had anticipated. My guess is that this is the first Winter after the first Summer of festivals for many of them, and they were just eager to show off their newly minted gloving skills. The crowd was calm, even at some of the heavier moments of Jai Wolf’s set, with hands up in the air and lots of swaying, but nothing too crazy. It was almost like being in a church, with all eyes fixed on Jai as he kept sending wave after wave of vibes our way. Behind him was a screen showing symmetrical visuals and a giant illuminated beam came around the front of the stage, like some massive Geordi La Forge visor.
If I had to compare Jai Wolf to San Holo, who I also got to recently see, I would say that San is a DJ who isn’t afraid to span genres and jump around in his set, while talking to the crowd and being very engaging. Jai Wolf is much more like a composer, never addressing the audience, and moving from track to track with ease. It was a lot less like a typical EDM concert, and much more a well-planned execution of very well produced, very well mixed electronic music. This makes a lot of sense given his background in violin and classical composition, but it was still interesting to note. The audience was enthralled, and everyone I saw had big smiles all night, so whatever he’s doing, he’s doing well. By the time he played his hit, "Indian Summer," all hands were up, and everyone was swaying to the warm sounds before we walked back out into the cold rainy night.
Photo courtesy of @anggalinetti