You don’t need to attend a REZZ show to know that, for a virtual newcomer to the world of live music, she’s made colossal waves in the global EDM community in a relatively short amount of time. To know exactly why she is so popular is a different story, and so last Friday I dropped by the prestigious Electric Factory to see for myself--and with any luck, to give our readers an inside look into what went down at her second show in North America, as well as some idea what to expect if you’re thinking of catching one of her upcoming appearances across the continent.
Suffice it to say, if you are thinking of catching one...DEFINITELY DO IT! What I experienced was a roller coaster ride through every human sensation; an eerily spooky journey down the proverbial rabbit hole; a delightfully sumptuous feast of assorted sounds that left me hungry for more. At the end of the whole ordeal I was rendered, like most of the crowd, standing frozen and confused… as if I had just snapped out of a hypnotic spell. But hindsight, as they say, is twenty-twenty; read on to see my take on the young DJ’s performance and why I think it has captivated so many so quickly.
Though this was my first time seeing her perform live, I have been a fan of REZZ’s music since I was first introduced to it. I always felt there was something behind her signature rhythmic bass drops fused with dark, industrial melodies that grabs your attention. It was a whole different story live at the Electric Factory last week.
One thing I noticed right away was how her music had the crowd overloaded with energy--but not like other shows I’ve been to. It was a very unique sort of energy. I being myself caught up in the excitement, I couldn’t put my finger on it then. But hindsight as they say is twenty-twenty; looking back on the experience since then I have come up with my own thoughts on just what it is about REZZ and her music that might explain it… and maybe at the same time shed some light on her extraordinary rise to fame.
As anybody who has listened to her recently released debut album Mass Manipulation knows, the popular musical prodigy’s stays true to her trademark hypnotic style while pushing her creative boundaries to paint a totally far-out electronic soundscape that stands out on its own right. But perhaps the basis for her exponentially increasing popularity and quick success is owed to her live performances. Her return to Philly was marked by a diverse arsenal of sounds (including ornately intricate patterns, dark and wobbly dub elements, and seriously whack bass riffs) to induce the audience into a trance-like state, all the while looming over them from her industrial-looking stage set-up.
By diverse I mean diverse. She dropped material from her own album (obviously), but also mixed it up with older material and some surprise additions that set the current tour very much apart from her prior tours. After an explosive entrance she segued into the soft lull of the interesting guided meditation from the first track on the album, “Relax.” From there, she played a bit of everything, including some prime hits from her personal stash of favorites. Of course if you’re a fan of her already then you know how much she loves Zeds Dead, so no surprise when she expertly threw in a couple of their songs. But what really got me was when she dropped Space Jesus into the mix as well as Rage Against the Machine. That’s right… she threw down a heavy-hitting remix of “Killing in the Name Of” by Rage Against the Machine… And the crowd went insane. I told you it was diverse...
As only the second stop on the North American side of her tour (after New Orleans and before that, her adventures through East Asia), there is obviously a lot more to be said, but I am certain that her Philly stop in particular will be shown to have defied expectation due to the events here last weekend. If you live in Philly (and weren’t at Lost Lands this past weekend) then you probably already know just how exciting a weekend it was. In addition to REZZ’s stop at the Electric factory for her ‘Mass Manipulation’ tour, there were so many shows and pre-parties and after-parties that it felt like Philadelphia was consumed by a massive festival in its own right. With so many shows going on around town, the “word on the street” was that the Electric Factory might not even fill up for REZZ last Friday.
Well…“The street” was wrong.
There was already a sizeable crowd as the opening act, Drezo, threw down some intense bass music. But by the time REZZ took the stage the floodgates began to open, the outdoor smoking section became all but deserted, and before long the venue was brimming with a rapturous crowd of people. Even REZZ herself was impressed, at one point expressing (over a short reprieve in her edgy yet rhythmically soothing industrial onslaught of sound) “I can’t believe my show got so big.” Honestly I couldn’t believe it either. I was mesmerized from start to finish.
At the zenith of her performance I noticed that a big part of this mesmerizing effect likely comes from how REZZ appears to be in complete control, effortlessly manipulating the synapses of her unsuspecting concert-goers from behind that iconic pair of goggles. I know that description sounds intense (and maybe a bit extra), but that’s because it was REALLY intense. It’s no small wonder why her fans have taken to calling her their Queen.
The front display and red lights flash in in trippy patterns and illuminate the concert-hall only enough to cast a low, ominous glow across the exuberant faces of the crowd. The resulting ambience augmented the trance-like spectacle of her whole performance, and as I marveled at the flashing blood-red lasers as they zigzagged between the left of the house to the right of the house then upwards towards the balcony and back gallery, my sense of sight was overloaded just as much as my sense of hearing. It’s what I would imagine an out of body experience to feel like.
Seriously though… What a weekend for Philadelphia music fans. Even though there was so much going on in Philly and so many great artists to see, the above goes to show just why Electric Factory was the place to be last Saturday. At one point in the show I noticed that the sea of heads on every side of me was rolling like waves in near unison with the music, lights, and floor-shaking vibrations beneath my feet. They were in another place, and you can see why she themed her album and tour (and upcoming comic book) on mind-control and hypnosis. In fact, it makes you wonder if the real intention behind the Mass Manipulation tour might actually be the large-scale brainwashing of the planet’s unsuspecting masses. Not that I would mind if it was true… After the music ended and the red glowing lasers were replaced by regular lighting I was left confused and disappointed that there had to be an end to it. I can see why her online fan-base have dubbed themselves “The Cult of Rezz.”
Written by Brendan J. Kerr
Photos by Streak Photography