Pretty Lights at Ultra Music Festival, March 23

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

Standing elbow to elbow last night with people going out of their minds in front of the live stage, it was easy to forget that Pretty Lights' first Miami show was at the Vagbaond, just over two years ago. In October 2009, the then-cult Colorado producer born Derek Vincent Smith was still a club act for a smaller but fierce circle of fans largely from the jamtronica (or whatever you want to call it) scene.

Since then, his rise has been nothing short of meteoric, thanks to tireless touring and staggering popularity on the festival circuit. His warm, electronic, vaguely crunchy sound clearly has mass appeal -- as he headlined the festival's amphitheater, hordes of sunburned, tank top types descended. (It's perhaps a comment on the electronic music scene at large that Greek-letter clothing is now a common sighting at these kinds of huge events -- in the past, that would have been a mark for derision. Hmmm.)

Anyways, Pretty Lights himself is still a one-man act on a huge stage, keeping things relatively simple instead of trying to flesh out his act (yet) with a live band. It's something he should probably consider, but for now, it's just Smith, manning a Mac Book and some drum pads, sequencers, and a few other gadgets. Most of the "live" experience here, then, comes from an involved light show, the vibe of the dancing crowd, and the strangely overwhelming power of his music.

From the beginning strains, the overall mood of Smith's minor-key, smoky sounds were positively apocalyptic. All the songs seemed to build to some kind of epic explosion that never quite happened, creating a sense of tension throughout the whole set. There were chirpy vocal samples cutting in and out, stuttering hip-hop vocal loops, and an overall electrified boom-bap that just wouldn't quit. There were rains of water and beer, a bro who danced his way onstage and got wrestled off, and a guy dressed like a koala slow-winding behind me. In a word, it was completely psychedelic, even if you were sober.

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.