In one of the undisputedly great episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the gang of friends who serve as the show’s protagonists start allowing underage kids to drink at their run-down, cash-strapped and perennially empty bar in an attempt to foster some sort of last-ditch cash flow for themselves to keep the place open. Through a set of ridiculous circumstances, three of the four friends end up getting suckered into being the prom dates of a group of the bar’s new regulars, while the fourth owner, Mac, who is in his late twenties, makes the crazy decision to go to the high school prom alone: tuxedo, limo and all. At this point you’re probably wondering what this has to do with Flume’s sold-out show at Terminal 5 on Wednesday night. That is an extremely valid question to have. The answer lies somewhere in the argument that you’ve certainly heard some EDM-loving friend make at some point in the past five years, that an electronic show is more about the atmosphere in the room than it is about the pre-recorded music that the DJ is pumping through the speakers. That argument is usually used to bolster the validity of paying top dollar to attend an electronic show, but in the case of Flume, it works perfectly in the other direction.
The average age in the crowd was probably around 16 and a half (it was an all ages night at T5), lacrosse pinnies were overwhelmingly the attire of choice, and it was difficult to pass any couch or stairwell in the venue without having to avoid the obstacle of a passed-out teenager being resuscitated by two or three of their best friends. We’ve all been there before. But the Flume show was the wildest high school party of the summer, and as a writer in his 20s, it was undisputedly one of the weirdest nights I’ve had in a while.
Some notable moments from the night included: a girl mentioning that she paid $180 for her ticket on StubHub and knew only one song “by” Flume, a remix of Lorde’s hit Tennis Court, a mob of peach-fuzzed bros who sincerely looked like a standing army of Justin Bieber impersonators, and an intoxicated kid who sprinted directly into a light pole on 12th Avenue on his way into the venue (observational humor, slapstick, this show had it all). Of course, this is not even to mention the decibel level that was reached after one of the opening DJs shouted, “If you’re from Jersey, scream!” into one of his microphones. But that’s enough picking on America’s youth for one show review. It is clear that, on the backs of Disclosure, the second wave of electro stars have touched down in America, and—at least in New York—Flume can certainly count himself as one of them.
What makes this a little surprising is that the U.K. garage/deep house stylings of artists like Flume or Disclosure are not exactly considered as accessible to a wasted 16 year old in a lacrosse jersey as the easy pop-EDM of artists like Avicii or Swedish House Mafia. Weirdly though, the crowd on Wednesday night was exactly what would be expected at one of the latter’s shows. But as they say, whatever makes people dance will make people dance, and Flume certainly did that all night long (well, at least until the show ended at 11:30). Flume came out with his full arsenal, a glowing hexagon as the centerpiece of his DJ setup, fluorescent lights flashing all throughout the performance, an artsy HD video wall behind him, and even a few electronic toms that he could bang on from time to time. He remixed Major Lazer, he remixed Disclosure, he remixed his Future Classic labelmate Chet Faker, and fortunately that girl on line got her $180 worth, because he remixed the hell out of Lorde’s Tennis Court. All his hits were played too, Hyperparadise (itself a remix of the Australian hip-hop group Hermitude), the hip-hoppy On Top, the dreamy Sleepless, the crazy catchy vocal hook of Insane and of course his biggest hit, Holdin’ On, which he broke into a 20-minute rendition of, even throwing bits of Freddie Gibbs’ 2013 vocal mix into the fray.
The show was the first of three sold-out nights for Flume at Terminal 5 this week, which is a testament to just how big this guy has gotten in the U.S. In the electronic world, increased popularity comes with increased hoards of debaucherous teenagers making asses of themselves at your shows, but hey, as long as they’re having fun and Flume’s making money then what is there for anyone except me, feeling like the world’s youngest grumpy old man, to complain about?