The undeniable king of future bass has officially been crowned. Flume's latest LP, Skin, broke the top ten in five countries and topped the charts in his native Australia as well as the dance charts in the United States. He also just nabbed his first certified-platinum plaque in the U.S. for the smash single “Never Be Like You.” His current world tour might as well be a roving coronation, and what a celebratory feast of the senses it was.
Flume sold out not one, but two back-to-back performances at the Fillmore Miami Beach. He's no stranger to packed houses. He sold out two back-to-back sets at Grand Central last year, but the growth in pomp and production from then to now is nothing short of astounding.
Even before doors opened, rumors swirled that Flume had something crazy up his sleeve. Everyone was talking about the light show and, of course, the chance to see Flume perform his original music entirely live, which, in the case of an artist beloved for his production, is almost always a better deal than a standard DJ set.
There was no hint of things to come during Hermitude's opening set. The big rigs were hidden behind a simple black curtain, but the Aussie duo did strike a beautiful chord with the audience. Playful banter livened the mood between funky, fun tracks that most of the early birds recognized. Anyone who didn't know the affable twosome before certainly left as fans.
The back half of the theater filled in the 30 minutes before Flume took the stage. The better half of the audience was underage — the median must have been something like 16, although some kids ten or younger were rockin' out with hip parents. But the presence of children didn't mean any less weed smoke, and it certainly didn't halt the unmistakable wide-eyed and sweaty drug experiences happening in the crowd.
“We want Flume! We want Flume,” the crowd chanted. The mere suggestion of an intro track sent the place into hype mode. When the first ominous notes blasted hard and strong, a flood of white light blinded the audience. The ceremony had begun. He quickly worked his way into “On Top,” its optimistically boastful lyrics seeming to signify that Flume has done exactly what he set out to achieve since releasing his first album in 2013.
He's made massive strides in the last four years. Skin is littered with cool vocal features from Tove Lo and Little Dragon to AlunaGeorge and Beck. But Flume has never been cool because of those around him. Even when he remixes Disclosure and Lorde, two of the tracks that made their way into Saturday's performance, the hits are better for having met him. Earlier in the night, Hermitude played its hit “HyperParadise,” but by the time Flume gave his rendition, fans might have forgotten they'd heard the original an hour earlier.
It's hard to even remember your own name when you're bombarded with the synesthesia of Flume's jaw-dropping show. It's color-coded, perfectly timed madness. It's a descent into an alternate dimension where rainbows rule the world (and it's certainly not for the epileptic). One woman fell straight into her seat at the apex of “Insane,” and we don't blame her. Some of the images are ethereal, like the vibrant underwater coral in bloom. Some are downright spooky, like the rat-faced demon who slowly melts into a puddle only to blow back up in backward motion.
It all goes perfectly with Flume's strangely romantic sounds. Meanwhile, onstage, the artist flits between shadow, silhouette, and spotlight, always banging on his drums or clinging to his keys and samplers as if he could barely stand without them. Then he shoots his hands into the air and goads the audience into a clap. I've never seen so much clapping along at a single show. To be fair, hardly ever have I seen an audience so rapt with attention from start to finish.
For all his grandstanding, chart-topping, cornea-searing greatness, Flume remains, at the end of the day, one of the humblest superstars out there. Like, maybe he doesn't really get it yet himself.
“I get to play for so many people,” he told the crowd. “We did two of these shows, and you guys are the first to buy the tickets.”
Flume has so many hits. It's a bit bewildering. He performed some of his biggest songs in the first 30 minutes. He dropped the platinum “Never Be Like You” only at the halfway mark. He didn't even do “Holding On” because he just doesn't have to play every song at every show anymore. After an hour and a half of absolutely stunning imagery and epic sing-alongs, the chants for “one more song” could have been heard from the beach.
Flume, being a benevolent leader of dance music's new school, gave the people what they wanted. Or was it the people who gave it to him?
“Miami, tonight was loads of fun,” he glowed. “Make some noise for our openers… Make some noise for yourself. Make some noise for the people in the front, all the sweaty people. Make some noise for the people in the back. Make some noise for the people up top, to the right, to the left, and in the middle. Thank you for letting me do what I do. Thank you for listening to my computer beats. Good night. Peace.”
Then the lights came on and everyone remembered how boring a simple bulb was. Everyone stumbled to regain consciousness and proper balance and tried to blink away the residual flash burns. All the high school kids gathered at street corners for their moms or dads or older siblings to scoop them up, and Flume, no doubt, headed into his incredibly bright future, taking his white-hot stardom to the next lucky town.