Dillon Francis shook Pearl Street Ballroom in Northampton on Sunday night. That’s no metaphor; you could actually feel the floor move ever so slightly under the weight of the hundreds of excited fans as they jumped to the beat. His openings acts consisted of DJ Pointblank and trap artist Clockwork.
Trap is the latest EDM genre to gain overnight prominence via the Internet hype machine. Combining the sounds of the brand of southern hip hop that goes by the same name with the song structure of dubstep, EDM trap is all big bass, snapping snares and rolling hi-hats.
From opening his set with the national anthem and leading the near-capacity crowd in a pledge of allegiance to Francis, to his quick return to the stage for an encore after the chanting of “One! More! Song!” the electronic dance music producer had the audience in the palm of his hand for the entire performance. With skill and precision Francis expertly mixed huge electronic bangers that had the whole audience grooving to the beat. The performance only had two settings: high energy and higher energy.
Filling in for emerging trap star Baauer, who was unable to open to the show as originally planned, Northampton DJ Pointblank started the night off right playing a solid set of house tunes heavy on tropical beats and pitch-shifted vocals. While the early arrivers showed their approval by swaying to the beat, more and more people trickled into the venue until Pearl Street was packed. As far as opening acts go, Pointblank could have used a bit more variety, but was overall entertaining.
Following Pointblank was Clockwork, who will be providing support on the leg of Francis’ “Wet & Reckless Tour” that kicked off with the Pearl Street show. Known for his anthemic electro house tunes, Clockwork delivered an amazing set. While Pointblank had the first few rows moving, Clockwork had the entire audience dancing. Steadily raising the energy throughout his set, the night really began to go off once he started dropping tracks form his trap alias RL Grime.
When Clockwork dropped the RL Grime track “Trap on Acid,” which is quickly picking up steam online, audible shouts of “YES!” rang out from all corners of the audience. The song, which starts off with a Roland 303 acid house style bass line and then subsequently drops into ungodly amounts of bass, definitely pushed Pearl Street’s speakers harder than they are used to. Whoever ran sound for this show deserves props. The music was louder, the bass was heavier and overall the sound was just fantastic.
Unlike the change from Pointblank to Clockwork, the transition into Francis’s set was not seamless. The sound system went silent after Clockwork played his last tune and then after a few seconds rock began to play over the loud speakers. Changing the atmosphere of the venue completely, a playlist of metal and punk tracks left the audience looking around a little confused. No one was dancing anymore.
It didn’t take long for that to change, however. Emerging to the aforementioned national anthem introduction, Francis was received with deafening screams worthy of a rock star. Starting his set off with his newest single, moombahton banger “Bootleg Fireworks,” the crowd was with him from the get-go.
The first third of his set was pretty much a greatest hits compilation of his biggest electro house tunes, as well as other tracks classified in a genre known as moombahton. Despite only really being on the radar for two years now, Francis has a pretty huge catalog of tracks and he used this prolificacy to his advantage, dropping song after recognizable song and getting the crowd wild.
During the second third of his set, Francis began dropping dubstep songs into the mix. The uptempo swaying facilitated by house and moombahton was replaced with the throbbing lurching that wobble bass tends to accompany.
And just when the atmosphere of the room didn’t seem like it could get any more ridiculous, Francis launched into the final tier of his performance and began dropping trap tracks. Playing instant classics by artists such as TNGHT alongside trap edits of classic house songs such as “Satisfaction” by Benny Benassi, Francis had the crowd going insane. A particularly poignant moment occurred when he dropped the newest Baauer single “Dum Dum” and the room exploded in excitement. If only the up and coming producer had been able to make it to the gig, he would have been well received.
Throughout his performance, Francis stated over the microphone how much he loved the crowd and how glad he was that this leg of the tour was getting started off right, so it was more than a little sad when he finally left the stage for good and the huddled masses who had pledged allegiance to him began to file out onto the streets of Northampton. The overall mood afterwards was definitely one of joy, as hundreds of sweaty attebdees exclaimed how they couldn’t wait until Francis returned to the Valley.
Gabe Scarbrough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.