So it’s time we talk about the stellar show Haywyre and KOAN Sound put on in Portland last week. For those that don’t know, American producer Hawyre and British duo KOAN Sound’s co-headlining tour ‘In Parallel’ is currently underway. After playing a few UK shows, they hit their first stop in the North American leg of the tour starting in our very own Portland, Oregon. The two acts took over 45East in an uncharacteristically immersive event that combined pristine visuals and live instrumentation.
Dance Music Northwest had the chance to attend this event. Here’s a taste of what we saw and what to expect on future tour dates. We tried writing this with minimal spoilers!
As the opening DJ left the stage and Haywyre’s sound team set up his dual keyboard configuration, we knew we were in for a unique show. Haywyre entered the stage soon after, bathed in purple lighting. After a brief introduction, he immediately hopped on a set of his keyboards and fleshed out a melody with easy confidence.
As the crowd got a feel for what Haywyre was there to deliver, people started dancing with more energy than the mild swaying beforehand. The pro keyboardist traveled through time with his music, playing out groovy ’70s-Esque melodies and jamming out with some ’80’s-style synth. All of this was mixed into more modern EDM sounds that really elevated the mood, and brought some of that old jazz and funk into the future.
Much of the set included original Haywyre tracks, including his newest song Never Count On Me. For this song, he switched seamlessly between each keyboard, which were programmed to play separate tonal elements of the song. When the song dropped into its choppy synth melody the crowd went wild!
Another crowd-pleaser was With Me, off of his latest EP Panorama: Form. Haywyre dove into this song for its full length, and at one point dazzled the crowd with a seemingly improvised piano riff. It’s also no surprise that he dropped his most popular song Do You Don’t You, to much fanfare.
When Haywyre left the stage, we waited a good 20 minutes for KOAN Sound’s team to set up their booth. Going into this we knew there was going to be a particular focus on the visuals and how they relate to each track. This became apparent as the duo came onstage and loaded up their intro. KOAN Sound appropriately opened with Strident, the first track on their recent EP Intervals Above. The gradual, psychedelic buildup synced to kaleidoscopic visuals that looked like a red neural network, pulsating every time one of the bass notes hit. As Strident reached critical mass, it dropped into its funky bassline and the crowd got to jumpin’!
KOAN Sound played a completely original set that delved into past and current eras. We floated away with some of their newer atmospheric music for much of the beginning. Getting deeper into their set, they really got the party going with some of their characteristic drum and bass tracks. Will Weeks, who comprises one half of KOAN Sound, mostly played the drum pads while Jim Bastow mixed the tracks together.
As we mentioned in our review of Intervals Above, one of the tracks we were most excited to hear was Radiant. It turns out they did play that track and it was everything we hoped for and more! This upbeat track fitted in perfectly with all the cerebral drum and bass they were playing around this time.
By the time the night was over the crowd was begging for more. KOAN Sound could’ve easily played for another hour and the crowd would be no less energized. But alas, we had to let our musical duo go as they prepared for their meet and greet.
For more information on KOAN Sounds visual production, read the interview they did on Resolume. Also, check out this five-minute mini-documentary on the visual production below:
Don’t miss this tour!
It’s safe to say that Portland set the tone proper for the rest of North America. There was some clear synergy between artist and audience and we were very grateful to be a part of it. At the time of writing this, the tour already hit Vancouver, BC. The next Pacific Northwest date will be Seattle on the 21st. Tickets are still available, so don’t miss out on this incredibly unique show!
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