The Wiltern is an oversize version of your high school’s auditorium. Looking up, high ceilings and three tiers of audience space big enough to host three talent shows simultaneously is where the festivities will take place. This venue is bigger than those used by other Redbull Sound Select events and boasts a luxurious interior lobby. Portable bars post up in every corner while #30daysinLA gleams from the large neon sign. The lobby facilitates all those wanting alcohol, those who need to take mandatory selfies or just get a breathe of fresh air, but good luck with that, the lobby is just as packed as the concert it self. Tonight features a duo of electronic producers from Britain, known as Snakehips.
The attendees are largely a mix of groups of friends and couples whom you can see clustered together as they dance in each other’s gravitational pull. Concert goers need no warm up or hype from DJs yelling hype-scenities to incite crowd participation and rowdiness. This looks to be the most organic form of a good time as participants engage with one another and enjoy the music, uncoaxed. Down in the pit, an area where fans are closest to the stage requires a special wristband when usually these areas are open to all paying concert attendees. An added layer of security definitely keeps separatism alive and well in a venue that seems to only be concerned with having a good time rather than exclusive access. Security is overwhelmingly taking the ‘easy going’ spirit out of the experience. The pit is where there’s is enough room to actually dance with someone, unlike other experiences where those nearest the stage get subject to an array of standing room only abuse i.e. stepped on feet, armpits to the face, sweat exchanges and the like; rather than fight to see the stage, the biggest plunder in this “dancery” is dancing room. Those who aren’t privileged enough to be in the pit are forced to make due in the crowded commons of the main area and the balcony with much less personal space.
Down on the floor, the stage goes dark, a cheering crowd is a reflection of the anticipation for the British duo. A graphic of a woman appears on the backdrop of the stage, lights and lasers begin to flash in conjunction with more background imagery, Snakehips arrives on the scene with a light show bright enough summon extraterrestrial communication. Silhouettes of the artists can be seen behind the video projection, their heads bang to the onset of the first music drop, bass erupts from the speakers and the crowd responds as a boiling pot of jumping, shuffling feet, raised hands and bobbing heads. The music mix is a segment full of cross genre songs and an influx of seamless tempo transitions from songs like remixes to 112’s “Peaches and Cream” to Missy Elliot’s “She’s a Bitch”. Snakehips rocks out to their own genius fueling the venue’s energy. Countless bottles can be seen on the group’s table, and they can be seen taking gulps as they tweak the knobs on their devices. The two do a trade off and switch positions ending up at one others’ computers, this musical chair-esque business continues throughout the night.
Midway through the show Snakeships asks if they can play some “new shit,” and someone off to the side says, “we don’t know your new stuff.” Insinuating that the crowd would rather hear music they are familiar with, Snakehips nonetheless continues with a track from Tory Lanez. Zane’s “Cruel” is also among one of the tracks that gets the crowd going. Syd the Kid’s “So Gone,” which is produced by Snakehips themselves, puts people in a trance as they sing along with their eyes closed, but break their meditative state when “HEEEEY!” comes on, the most quotable part of the track’s lyrics.
A treat for this LA performance is the track “Falling” which features an actual guest appearance from Malika who kills her performance demanding attention with her larger than life vocals, her stage presence stealing the scene and for a moment that crowd members could easily forget was in the middle of Snakehips’ set.
A few songs later, another guest arrives on stage. It’s Raury wearing a open jacket with no shirt. He sings passionately about a girl he want to “love right” on a song titled “Cigarette Song”. Raury’s performance matches the intensity of his lyrics as he sings with his eyes closed and his jacket flailing behind him. Raury lights a cigarette on stage and takes a few puffs before exiting into the backstage abyss.
The party starts back up again as couples sing to one another and dance affectionately, as nearby others laugh with one another as they perform silly moves, endless cameras never leaving the air as phones raise up to capture these moments for social media.
The most difficult part of the night isn’t technical difficulties but the difficulties in the technical aspect of dancing. The floor is layered in a film of sticky drinks that have been spilled on the floor through the night. It feels like super glue, and it’s very difficult to get out a decent two step or put on suave moves on “Snap” for all to see. Nevertheless dancing happens but feet are literally as hindered as rollerskate stoppers on a skating rink floor, but that doesn’t stop the crowd from making due. In such a show where the music is the highlight, communal gathering and shared experiences are the focal point rather than the artist on stage. Jay Z’s “Big Pimpin” and a tube by A$AP Ferg are also among the songs played tonight; a mashup of past and current hits.
But no song played that night is more “now” than “Money on Me,” accompanied by a surprise visit from Anderson .Paak, bringing the energy of an intergalactic comet to the stage. Back-to-back performances keep the crowd from becoming complacent. Entering right after Anderson is yet another guest. “All she want to do is smoke that broccoli!” D.R.A.M. runs from backstage to “Broccoli”, rocking out with the crowd before jumping off stage to perform with the people in the pit. The guests turn this set into an impromptu “popcorn” style concert from some of the most popular names in music further solidifying Snakehips as connoisseurs of their craft with a pulse on the most relevant names in music.
The climax of the party is the very end, after back to back performances from surprise guests the duo plays “All My Friends” a track from the group’s 2015 collab with Tinashe. The crowd goes into a frenzy singing gleefully to the lyrics “All my friends are wasted…” This song is the perfect soundtrack for friends that came together, got drunk together and are having what seems to be the most memorable night of the week. The whole venue sings together like a choir before all the stage lights go out and the show ends. A true party this is, much unlike the artist specific shows from Redbull’s other concerts, tonight’s focus is the music and the people’s connection to it. Redbull has done an impeccable job at joining the people who love music with venues that cater to this sub culture of music heads. Another Sound Select event ends a wonderful Saturday night. Luckily there’s 11 more days to enjoy more extravaganzas like this.