The Chicago trio taps Lady Gaga’s choreographer and an all-star production team for their first headlining tour.
“You know I’ll sleep when I am dead” sings Jahan Yousaf on “Live For The Night,” the opening performance of Krewella’s “Get Wet” tour and a song of declarative credos from a group that specializes in them. The tour kicks off tonight in Austin, Texas with over 40 dates scheduled across North America this Fall in support of their debut album of the same name, out September 24th through Columbia Records. Last week, on the afternoon of her 24th birthday, Jahan and younger sister Yasmine stormed through a private rehearsal of their Get Wet tour, working up a sweat as they pounced around a reflective multi-tiered, lit-up geode structure being dubbed “The Volcano,” proving they are well on their way to cementing their formidable presence within EDM, and very possibly as a crossover act.
While “Live For The Night” hasn’t yet matched the success of their breakthrough hit “Alive,” the rest of their new album is a hit parade, designed for the kind of epic performances this tour demands. New songs like “We Go Down” get a full court delivery in their original form while older tracks like “Killin It” and “Play Hard” are presented in a remix form (“We have some great remixers, so why not?” Jahan says).
It was only a year ago that this trio of Chicago natives were ping-ponging across the country in a van, often without the luxury of a bed and a shower in between shows. Since then, the group has signed to Columbia, relocated to Los Angeles and teamed with Richy Jackson, known for his work with Lady Gaga, on the show’s creative direction. Absent from this rehearsal as well as several recent tour dates has been the male third of Krewella, Kris “Rain Man” Trindl. While he is expected to join the Yousaf sisters on tour, the pace of the past year has led to a bout of exhaustion. Though the group promises he remains a part of the full performance that is Krewella and will be on tour with them again soon, there is no date set yet for his return.
Whenever Trindl does come back, there is not only space for him on The Volcano (two different platforms accommodate a DJ booth that Jahan mostly uses in his absence) but also in the hearts of the group’s fanbase. A huge part of Krewella’s appeal is the relatability of its members. On social media, in meet-and-greets and in the press, Trindl and the Yousaf sisters have been able to shine as the rare dance music stars who are “just like us” in the eyes of their young fans. The Get Wet tour makes good use of this magic, placing both women literally front and center as much as possible, keeping the choreography to the minimum, and allowing the spectacular light show of the structure behind and beneath them to showcase their swagger.
Designed by Vello Virkhaus and Amanda Hamilton of V Squared Labs and constructed by Stefano Novelli, the Volcano is a 30 by 18 foot structure of LED mapped crystal-like compartments, made of two-way reflective material that allow for the appearance to change from the inside - an effect being called “reflection mapping.” While Jahan and Yasmine spend the majority of their time on stage in front of the Volcano, they also climb its hidden steps to the DJ booth/mixing stations, appearing as though they are ascending a mountain.
“We decided to pursue the idea of crystals because we felt they represented the rock vibe of the group,” explains Jake Udell, one of the group’s managers. “At our first meeting when VSquared mentioned the concept of building the crystals out of mirrors, my eyes lit up and I immediately became infatuated with pushing the boundary of possibilities.”
The entire rig takes two tractor trailers to transport, a far cry from the van of a year before, and part of an operation that Krewella’s other manager, Nathan Lim, describes jokingly as “an expensive marketing tool.” But both he and Udell agree that this tour is not about “getting rich.”
“Having been at over 100 shows in the last year, we know how important the live element is to an act's longevity,” Udell explains.
Equally impressive to the stage itself is the alacrity with which Krewella and their team have been able to capitalize on the momentum of their breakthrough success, prompted by “Alive.” While other EDM artists with a surprise hit single (Zedd, Baauer) have improved the quality of their tour productions, none have so blatantly attempted to expand their audience beyond dance music quite like this with a tour this elaborate.
The irony is, the Yousafs are charismatic enough to offer a compelling show standing on a cardboard box. But with the Volcano, they have a an opportunity to show a large-scale audience the range of their talent on their own terms, focusing largely around their vocals.
In fact, were it not for the moments where Jahan was behind a set of decks, twiddling knobs and such, this might be appear to be more pop concert than EDM show. What the Yousafs’ voices lack in pop gloss they make up for in solid pitch and fearless delivery. As firm as they plant their feet on stage, they deliver each note of their songs with a gusto that leaves no question of their intent to conquer.
Towards the end of the show’s first act on the song “Dancing With The Devil,” they sing about being here to leave a legacy. With the “Get Wet” tour, they are primed to do just that.