Having each dropped a powerhouse album in the past two years, (Adventure (2015) and Worlds (2014), with no hint of new material since, Madeon (Hugo Leclercq) and Porter Robinson each began to stir the rumor mill as time came for an announcement. Whether it be a new single or album on the way, however, no one expected a collaboration between the two electro house legends in the form of “Shelter,” a single dropped right at August’s outset. Though a bit late on the scene to vie for song of the summer, “Shelter” came extremely close by playing to each artist’s strengths, yielding an infectiously catchy yet layered cut that set the electro world ablaze. Building on the hype, the duo simultaneously announced a tour behind the track, stopping by a sold-out South Side Ballroom on October 7th to share.
Following an audience-pleasing mix of hard-hitting electro classics and contemporary hits from Robotaki, and an excellent chillwave/indietronica set from Launchpad master, Fakear, a hush overtook the crowd as anticipation built for the main acts. As the opening piano keys of “Shelter” rang out, nearly 3,000 people crushed down toward the stage while massive cheering and applause erupted from the crowd.
For the next 80 minutes, the two artists presented a relentless audio-visual smorgasbord, splicing together their biggest hits into a continuous electronic symphony. A mashup of Robinson’s 2013 Mat Zo collab “Easy” with Madeon’s groovy Adventure single “Pay No Mind” sent the crowd further into frenzy, as did a later splicing of Porter and Hugo’s respective emotional powerhouses “Fresh Static Snow” and “Nonsense”. Though somewhat weighted towards Robinson’s Worlds, Madeon got in his fair share of cuts as well, especially surprising the crowd with his Launchpad masterpiece “Pop Culture,” the chimera of 40 different electro and pop songs that skyrocketed him to acclaim in 2011.
Both artists additionally surprised with the versatility of the show; though both are majorly known for upbeat, feel-good electro, the Ballroom at times was sent into what near approximated head-banging as the artists took familiar, cheery set staples and turned them into heavy hitters with earth-shaking bass drops. Such a subversion of expectation provided some thematic variation that greatly served the setlist as a whole, punctuating spans of anthemic synths with much-needed breakdowns.
The set excelled not only in the auditory arena, but visual as well. With each artist backlit by both an individual LED backdrop and a massive screen spanning the stage, visual layering played an important role in the show, either emphasizing a specific musician or unifying them through cohesive imagery. Marrying Porter’s abstract, Japanese-inspired Worlds imagery with Madeon’s atmospheric and geometric aesthetic into mesmerizing displays that captivated the audience. So too did the mastering exceed expectation; while heavy on bass, the plucky synths employed by both artists stood out just above the low end, leading to well-articulated yet powerful mixes that projected across the entire Ballroom.
Closing out the night with a powerful yet reserved rendition of Robinson’s “Goodbye To A World,” the two artists thanked Dallas for having them before playfully congratulating one another on an excellent performance. Whether the Shelter tour marks only a one-off collaboration between the two powerhouses or hints at more work from the duo in the future, the electro world is better off for the collaborative efforts of these two outstanding artists.