Harley Edward Streten, aka Flume, has experienced a small meteoric rise as a wunderkind producer. Australian born and bred, the 22-year-old singer-songwriter received worldwide critical acclaim for his 2012 self-titled debut album, in addition to much fanfare for his breakout hit “Holdin’ On” and remixes for Lorde and Disclosure. After his first show at New York’s Terminal 5 sold out this week, two more were demanded, totaling three nights of 3,000 fans each. So, he’s doing quite well for himself.
But reviewing any highly produced electronic/keyboard-centric show is always tricky. There are always a contingent of music fans who love to complain that these shows aren’t ‘real’ music. Someone pushing buttons on a drum machine or laptop simply isn’t worthy of an audience’s attention according to that mindset. There is no shortage of such remarks (often phrased in much less kind terms) in the music blogosphere.
Clearly, no one can say that the skills required for EDM are the same as for guitar shredding rock-n-roll, the poetry of great lyrics, or the incredible musicality of a wonderful human voice. But ultimately it’s not the means but the ends that count for the audience. Are they being entertained? Are they enjoying the experience of the live show?
Last night’s crowd would answer with a resounding YES. From start to finish, Flume produced a sweaty, infectious movement of deep house that was far edgier than the big roosters in EDM. Never once did anyone stop in confusion, perhaps conditioned by the sophistication of Disclosure as they’ve eased into the mainstream. Or, maybe they were all just big fans of Flume.
There’s wonderful art to behold in the work of a great producer. The tools they employ may seem to make it easy to create — especially in today’s digital age — but actually producing music and appeasing even 10 people is a challenge in itself. For those that think otherwise, well, give it a try. There’s always another Cinderella story around the ones and twos.