Arts & Culture

Plexapalooza 2018: A Night to Remember (Kind of)

The unmistakable smell of a concert: encased in the closed dome of the plex, exhales of vape smoke form misty clouds, emitting a perfume of freshly spun fruit-tinged cotton candy. Strong but not overbearing, the saline smell of sweat manages to puncture through the sweet aroma, which, complimented by smoke machines and sparkling LED’s, yields a bubble filled with super-concentrated heat and energy. Converging into a sanctuary fit for punchy EDM drops, the Plex did not disappoint, however, its performers could not deliver with the same intensity.

After the reveal of Plexapalooza’s headline as Cheat Codes, I was met with ambivalence. Cheat Codes emerged as a unique EDM trio in 2014, comprised of Los Angeles-based artists Trevor Dahl, Matthew Russell, and KEVI. Known for their sweeping synths and punchy beat drops, Cheat Codes produces electronic instruments and sounds to coop an energetic vibe. Their music has a lightness to it that allows it to compliment a variety of occasions, from a chill sesh to an EDM rave. With a distinct smoothness to their music, Cheat Codes manages to mesh insulated  tropical and jumpy dance into a sort of “island banger” vibe.

But even in such a unique sub-genre, Cheat Codes remains eclipsed by big names like Sigala, Felix Jaehn, and even Odesza. Their music is generic and pop-y, using the same treble-heavy percussion snares and synths littered around EDM culture. As a whole, their music has energy, but lacks the genius present in Kygo or Martin Garrix to set it apart from the multitude of artists in EDM. Amidst their uniformity, Cheat Codes does offer one unique aspect in their overall orchestration of music. The trio not only performs their own music, but writes and produces it as well; they are almost entirely self-sustaining, relying on minimal external sources.

In light of Cheat Codes’ reputation of generic hype EDM , Plexapalooza met my expectations, without surpassing them. Sure, they played some bangers, including a dope remix of Kendrick Lamar’s  “M.A.A.D City”, their chill party song “Sex”, and of course “No Promises”, which quickly transformed a crowd of almost 2000 college students into bouncing sea of cell phones. But Cheat Codes’ uniformity grew old fast. Their songs began to blend together after the 45 minute mark, Plexapalooza thereafter becoming one long compilation of electronic beats, each sharing identical structures- smooth vocals superimposed over rhythmic, whining keyboard synthesisers.

The overall mood of the crowd seemed to reflect a downward sloping line, starting off strong, initially buzzing with excitement over the young, hip Cheat Codes. But the trio failed to reciprocate, playing a predictable lineup of songs that only accentuated their music’s lack of variation. As a whole, Plexapalooza continued as it has in the past, providing a night filled with live entertainment, light shows, and guns shooting out crisp one dollar bills, offering a refreshing break from academic studies while ultimately blending in with almost any other typical EDM concert experience.

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