Pryda and Friends live up to tour’s EPIC acronym
Expectations were high – the line outside Hammerstein Ballroom both nights stretched a full avenue, and Marquee was overrun with club patrons, fighting for the bouncers’ attentions. Full of Prydz disciples restlessly chattering and chain smoking, the scenes outside the venues waeresoaked with drunk excitement. It had been almost a year since Eric Prydz took New York by storm, only this time, he was bringing EPIC 2.0 with him, a spectacle that only London has ever seen.
The reason? The original production two years ago was too large to be transported. In fact, it would not have fit on the Hammerstein stage, one of the largest venues in a town brimming with performance halls. But it was finally in New York City for its US debut, and a legion of Prydz faithfuls eagerly awaited its debut.
Outstretched like wings, the production spanned the length of the stage, consisting of distinct horizontal levels of LED screens, each layer of panels longer than its adjacent bottom one. Near the center where the booth sat, effects were amplified by a truss that jutted out towards the crowd, which manipulated the visuals. Worthy of most festivals, the production was fantastic, complemented by a barrage of lights and lasers that fired the full spectrum of colors in coordination and intensity.
The sound at Hammerstein was a bit uneven between the two days. Friday’s show seemed a little restrained, and Saturday was overpowering, almost to the point of distortion at moments. While sound quality was not awful – many in the crowd probably found it just fine – it was noticeable to careful ears. A minor flaw in an otherwise perfect night, the small imperfection was easily overshadowed by Prydz’s performance and the visual spectacle of the EPIC 2.0 experience.
This show was all about Eric though, even if he brought his Pryda label mates on the tour (Fehrplay and Jeremy Olander played an unbelievable b2b2b hour set with the master on Friday night). Neither played more than an hour on either day, and only Prydz played at Marquee. When they did get a chance to perform, the opening acts spun their sets shrouded in darkness save a few spotlights. Though personally a fan of both, the message was clear: this was Prydz’s house.
When the show kicked into full gear, the initial visuals were blinding as the contrast from heavy darkness to vibrant coloration jarred the eyes. They adjusted shortly, just in time to view the amazing detail on the LED screens shimmering at mesmerizing full strength. Immediately introduced to Prydz’s wonderland, he opened with an unidentified track hummed in the background and a booming distorted voice that welcomed the guests, declaring “Welcome to my House.” The shadowy contour of Prydz in front of the massive panels appeared on stage, and as the hi-hats build, “Rotonda” marked the start of the beginning of the EPIC experience.
While the two Hammerstein sets had some overlapping songs – his edit of “Power Drive,” the famous Cirez D “On/Off” with Harvard Bass and Green Velvet’s “Laser Beams”, and crowd favorites “Every Day” and “Pjanoo,” the rest was refreshingly different. In the Friday show, I finally got to experience two of my favorite songs live, his edit of Paolo Mojo’s “1983” and his brilliant edit of “Europa” with Everything But the Girl’s “Missing.” Saturday was much more techno heavy with the In the Dark edit of “Glow” and The Drill’s “The Drill” as the centerpieces before Cirez D pounced from the night’s shadows in full force at Marquee, flooding the packed club’s walls. His “On/Off” edit there received an incredible new treatment I had never heard before, one that may have been the crown jewel track of the entire weekend.
The true EPIC experience came in the variety and originality of each successive Prydz performance. In fact, in our private interview with him earlier in the week, he clearly states, “The scale of the production, the pre-planning and pre-programming to make everything work together — it’s too static and boring. With EPIC 2.0 my team and I decided we didn’t want to do that, we didn’t want to be boring, so we are doing it live. It’s not just me playing whatever tracks I want, it’s live across the board, the visuals are live, the music is live, it’s just like we are all jamming.”
These shows were collectively a complete event. Friday at Hammerstein would not end until Saturday at Marquee – Eric had prepared one fully designed experience for New York, not individual shows:
A lot of people bought tickets to both shows and I want people to get a unique experience each time they come to an EPIC show. For me personally I want to do something different every time to keep things interesting.
He explored his full library, digging out unreleased edits only shown in live settings and his EPIC radio podcast. For fans, the obsession of Prydz music begins with the unique textures, layers, and intricate melodies of his tracks, but the full appreciation only blooms when listeners realize that he continually tinkers, improves, and perfects his music, especially for performances. The first Prydz show fans attend, he dazzles with a marvelous set. The next show will be different, with another set of songs from his collection in another perfect mix. And every successive experience after that will continue to engage and delight even the most diehard Prydz fan. The discovery of the depths of his genius is at the core of all the fun, and why his fans may be the most dedicated in the industry.
Photo Credit: Andrew Rauner/AJR Photography