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Wednesday nights in Boston don’t have a reputation for being particularly enthralling. Last night’s, however, was an exception. Down in the South End of Tremont Street, a long line like a black snake was curling out in front of Cyclorama. Cameramen paced about, photographing the queue of people who knew what was behind the doors. Everyone was wearing black from head to toe, several already sporting white paint on their faces, and talked excitedly among one another. To make curious onlookers even more confused, a white van with a massive satellite dish on its roof was parked outside. Whatever was happening was clearly a big deal – and a big secret.
Thanks to Music Experiment 2.0, a themed, social-media powered music series that connects passionate fans with their favorite emerging artists, Boston was the second leg of “The Music Experiment,” which launched in New York last month with Empire of the Sun headlining. MTV Iggy and Intel both dipped their hands in the game to churn it into the success that it was. Tickets to the secret concert were awarded to fans that visited the online website and engaged the most with their Facebook, Instagram, Vine, and Twitter contests.
If you’re familiar with Disclosure’s work, or even if you’ve just seen a screenshot of one of their videos, then the sketch-like white facial features drawn on them should ring a bell. The theme of Boston’s show was “White Noise”–a play on the title of the Disclosure single featuring AlunaGeorge–which immersed the crowd in the duo’s album aesthetic. Picture the venue being lit by blacklights, Intel laptops spaced around for everyone to take photos, projections cast onto the walls and ceilings, and a giant floor-to-ceiling light fixture that looked like bubble wrap when it glowed. At 9:45 PM, fans flooded in and professional face painters took over, turning everyone into walking sketches from Disclosure’s music videos in that exact space.
Soon the venue’s huge round room was filled in with people clapping for Disclosure to take the stage. Out walked the two DJ/instrumentalists, Howard and Guy Lawrence, brothers from Surrey, England who first took over the world by storm with their remix of Jessie Ware’s “Running” before releasing their own slew of music. They waved to the roaring crowd before launching into their own music, bashful smiles on their faces. Surrounding them were instruments and sprawled in front were a table of DJ tools and cords, all framed beautifully by three diamond screens behind them.
Settle, Disclosure’s debut album that only just came out June 3rd of this year, took over their set, much to the crowd’s delight. The taunting vocals in “When a Fire Starts to Burn” and the precise beats in “You & Me” saw massive reactions from the crowd, a group of twenty and thirty year-olds who were moving on the edge of their feet all night, unable to stop dancing far past midnight. Settle is another album of dance-pop, but their use of actual instruments (instead of a heavily reliance on all things sampled) shows their talents run much deeper than the usual ability to mix and match electronic sounds.
As a part of the Music Experiement 2.0 and Intel alliance for the show, the concert’s crowd included not only people there, but anyone who tuned in to watch from around the world. Palladia music channel screened the festival live, and in turn any fans watching who had a webcam (and chose to turn it on) were projected onto a giant screen at the venue which faces the stage – like they were seated and watching too, only from the comfort of their bed.
The real highlight of their set came at the end. Closing song “Help Me Lose My Mind”–a beautiful calm-down track whose vocals, provided by London Grammar, are soothing and euphoric–was then announced as not actually being the final song of the evening. ”Do you know this sound?” Howard said as he hit the fuzzy hook from “Latch”. The crowd screamed. “We’ve still got that song left… Welcome Sam Smith to the stage.” Out came the British singer and bewildered audience members couldn’t believe the featured singer from the track was here in Boston to sing it live. As their first hit to peak in the Singles Chart, it was without a doubt the high point for nearly everyone in the room. Smith himself couldn’t stop smiling as he sang as the rest of the room continued to freak out.
Disclosure have been brought out to perform at Glastonbury Festival in England and Primavera Sound Festival in Spain. Now they’re hitting the US shores and letting Americans get a taste of their electronic sounds live. Last night’s show may have been a secret, but word of their live presence and performance is already spreading like headlining news.