In the frosty weather that only ushers in the beginning of the holiday season in the PNW, hundreds of people poured into WAMU – dressed in their favorite jerseys and any number of glowing, glittery items – to watch Nick Miller, aka Illenium, play his magical, heart-gripping show on his “Ascend” tour.
With a second, throwback set quickly following it two days later, Illenium clearly came to give Wednesday night’s audience an live experience that makes you wonder what shows could be transitioning towards in the future (inevitably, a more interactive and memorable future for dance music).
William Black opened the show with a bass-heavy set that really made you want to bounce along to every beat to his signature style. More rave-centric than the other artists gracing the stage, Black threaded his tracks with hope and hype. It turns out bass and beauty is a powerful combination that really makes you want to explore his music more.
Dabin took to the stage next, switching gears and slowing the vibe down to something more melodic, and gripping the audience with his always emotional lyrics and ethereal visuals. With soaring melodies and uplifting synths, he elevated the experience to something more meaningful.
One of the best moments in his set came with an epic mashup of his gorgeous track Alive married with Seven Lion’s beloved track, First Time. Though he is not as recognized as Illenium, Dabin established himself as an artist who deserves to be placed in a higher category of musical talent. His set only emphasized how beautiful melodic music can really be, and prepared the crowd for the main event perfectly.
The crowd’s patience was finally rewarded when Illenium took the stage to deliver an epic experience. Since his 2018 drop of Awake Remixes, Illenium fans have been patiently awaiting new music. He delivered this year with Ascend, bringing fresh collaborations with friends new and old, exciting fans and only further elevating his meteoric rise to fame in the EDM world.
With every drop of this new album, Illenium only opened himself up even more to his fans, revealing a track inspired by his past heroin addiction and fully embracing his ultimate “Sadboi” status.
Illenium emerged onto the stage, walking out, guitar in hand, proving upon first glimpse that he is not your ordinary EDM artist. While his DJ equipment was utilized consistently throughout the show, he injected power and performance with live instrumentation, which sets him apart from other artists who do not typically throw that into the mix, which really adds new depth to any level of performance.
He was supported on stage by David Scott on drums (aka Day), Said the Sky (aka Trevor Christensen) on drums and keys, Dabin (back on stage) on guitar, and Annika Wells on vocals (singing both her hits, Crawl Outta Love and Sad Songs). With that crew by his side, Illenium put on a more rock-infused set than anyone would have expected to see. Yet he did so without losing an inch of his electronic foundation.
If you can expect anything from an Illenium set, it would be a mind-altering visual show. In addition to intense pyrotechnics and dizzying lasers, songs were accompanied by apocalyptic, cinematic visuals from Illenium’s album cover designer Stuart Lippincott, whose images included epic dramatic landscapes and a hooded female character scaling dynamic terrains. This show pulled out all the stops and, it was a show no one will soon forget.
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