Two perspectives on Eric Prydz’s career-defining EPIC 4.0 [Editorial]
To celebrate the long-awaited release of his debut album, Opus, Eric Prydz launched EPIC 4.0. Achieving what was easily the most anticipated edition of his deeply acclaimed concert series, Eric Prydz utilized an unprecedentedly advanced stage production to evolve his musical vision. Dancing Astronaut compiled two perspectives on Prydz’s most recent development for his stop at San Francisco’s Armory. The primary consensus seems to be that Eric Prydz melds his musicality and avant-garde stage production to proffer an experience that is far bigger than himself.
The perennial evolution of Eric Prydz
A DJ’s primary avocation has always been to pick up on the mood of a crowd, selecting songs that will captivate their attention for hours on end. The ability to masterfully slip from one song into the next through seamless, fluid transitions is arguably one of the most powerful tools in a DJ’s arsenal. Herein lies the crux of Eric Prydz’s music, and the EPIC 4.0 production.
Set in one of San Francisco’s historic buildings, The Armory, EPIC 4.0 descended on the venue for two nights, temporarily transforming the stone alcazar into a pulsating, laser-filled cosmos. Interestingly enough, Sébastien Léger, who warmed up the decks, performed a set completely devoid of visuals — a stark contrast to what would follow.
Prydz’s primary goal for each EPIC installment is to outdo the last. Given that the series is now in its fourth iteration, this comes as no small feat, so to achieve his goal, Eric Prydz and his team of visual designers and sound engineers spare no cost in employing the most advanced technology possible for their productions. Technology aside, however, it is the organic beauty behind its production that truly sets EPIC apart from other shows.
For Prydz, music is less about the birth of a new creation, and more so a continual evolution, a quality that was carefully translated into EPIC 4.0. This evolution, or journey if you will, is a characteristic that ran throughout the entirety of the production. Blurring the lines between songs so much that it was almost difficult to tell what elements belonged to the former and which to the latter, Prydz’s track selection acted as a culmination of his career across all three of his monikers.
Seamlessly flitting between well known songs such as “Pjanoo” and “Generate,” then mixing in darker, haunting cuts from Cirez D, and rounding it out with dance-heavy Pryda classics, EPIC was a testament to the vast range of Prydz’s talent. Each change-up was backed by the iconic imagery akin to that alias – the only deviation from the otherwise natural and galactic visuals.
Over the course of the show, visuals of the sun, black holes, thunder, tornados, and clouds were displayed, perpetuating the natural theme that seems to be deep rooted in EPIC 4.0. It’s interesting to note, that while the visuals stay more or less the same from show to show, the track list changes – subtly demonstrating the fluidity and permanence of Prydz’s music.
During a particularly climactic moment of “Rebel XX,” Prydz unleashed thousands of razor sharp, green lasers, engulfing the Armory under a dome of light beams layered on top of one another, erratically piercing through the crowd. All the while, Prydz was masked by their light. Perhaps the most astounding, and humbling, aspect of EPIC is that the visual production almost hides, rather than illuminates, its maestro. Some may perform to be seen, but Prydz performs to be heard – expertly crafting an experience in which he is simply a piece of the equation, and not the focal point.
The Homeric nature of EPIC
EPIC 4.0 literally denotes the fourth installment of Eric Prydz In Concert, but Prydz’s choice of acronym clearly holds additional connotations that transcend the superficial magnitude that endows his live experience with its “epicness.” Prydz’s artistry in fusing his diverse compositional catalogue with his mature stage production creates an experience that exists outside of himself, and at times, seemingly independently. With this in mind, the EPIC experience achieves a narrative structure that evokes tropes of the classical Greco-Roman epic.
By engulfing himself within his own experience, like Amon Tobin, Prydz’s performance transcends his own reputation. His vision takes center stage rather than himself, resulting in a powerfully emptive spectacle that entrances and engulfs spectators in his performance as entirely as he himself is. Given Prydz’s widely accepted iconic status, it’s unsurprising that for his debut album’s tour, he posits himself as utterly iconoclastic to the archetype of the “star” DJ, who supersedes the importance of his performance by being the star of the show. Rather, Prydz channels the connective nature of a Homeric epic, joining audience members in an audiovisual odyssey, and in separating himself from the crowd beneath his LED shroud, his detachment endows him with a certain god-like omnipotence.
Within his epic, Eric Prydz ventures from world to world, purveying a visual canvas as mature and varied as his own music. At times, Prydz resides on our earth, evoking the changing of seasons and supernaturally controlling the weather. Not content with merely conquering power over the terrestrial realm, Prydz ascends to the stratosphere and darts into the Wachowskian matrix like some sort of trans-dimensional explorer.
Not wanting to hoard all the fun for himself, Prydz also immerses spectators into his experience, utilizing lasers and further lighting external to his cube to engulf his audience as thoroughly as he himself is engulfed. As he purveyed a nearly opaque canopy of 2,000 lasers to complement his music’s resounding tones at his San Francisco stop, one concertgoer remarked that he felt as if he was in a cave.
Of course, most central to Prydz’s immersive experience is his music itself. Amidst the stunning magnitude of his visual production, it can be easy to forget that the lights of EPIC 4.0 supplement the music, and not vice versa. Through his marriage of music and video, Prydz manages to control a full spectrum of emotions across his odyssey to an unprecedented degree. At times dark, and at times inimitably ethereal, Prydz draws from all temporal stops along his vast and varied body of work. Announcing cuts from his Cirez D and Pryda alter egos by emblazoning the respective acts’ names across his fortress when appropriate, Prydz declines to shy away from diametric energies and always ensures that the proper energy is reflected upon his visual canvas. When the tone is mellifluous, Prydz’s cube acts as a freeing beacon of hope, but when ominous, his fortress may take on the barred form of a cell.
Welcome to my cube…
Posted by Eric Prydz on Sunday, 21 February 2016
The fleeting nature of fame in the dance music world entails that, like the seasons, DJs often come and go. However, an impactful body of work will endure far longer than its composer. By shifting the spotlight of EPIC from himself onto the performance — continuously evolving, and conceiving a uniquely experiential narrative structure in the process — Eric Prydz is ensuring that his legacy will survive for years to come.
Photos by Rukes