One of the more buzzed-about EDM events of the season, Eric Prydz's EPIC 2.0 lived up to its name in some regards this weekend in New York for two nights at the Hammerstein Ballroom (Oct. 19-20). EPIC (meaning Eric Prydz In Concert) distinguished itself from other EDM shows by offering a more formal concert-like experience. The Swedish DJ/producer appealed to both Pryda loyalists and new fans with new tracks and edits, a futuristic live-show, and support from protégés/signees to his Pryda Friends label, Jeremy Olander and Fehrplay.
In an effort to distance himself from some DJs accused of “pressing buttons” (as opposed to DJing live) Prydz touted EPIC as a completely live event: a combination of music and visuals mixed completely on the fly that would never be the same twice. Prydz spun his progressive house and techno-tinged productions from the center of an curved LED set that displayed everything from soothing sunsets at sea during his 2008 hit “Pjanoo” to religious imagery for his remix of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus." The show’s intro video included a full hologram of Prydz himself, a process that involved him being laser scanned in 3D.
While this multi-city run of American shows boasted new motion graphics and updated 3D elements, the physical production was reminiscent of the first EPIC shows in the UK in 2011 — albeit in a more tourable version (EPIC will visit Chicago and L.A. next month). It was an impressive technical feat, but wasn’t exactly the radical innovation that many were expecting. The atypical stage arrangement provided a more immersive experience than standard set designs, with three-tier LED wings stretched outward towards the crowd like a set of open arms inviting fans inside.
To complement the video screens, strategically placed lasers penetrated the venue at just the right moments, adding yet another impressive visual element to the live experience. One truss in the center of the display extended outward above the crowd, framing Prydz himself with even more lighting elements and providing more depth to the effects. Unfortunately, acoustics in the venue were unbalanced and too bass-heavy, with sound distortion issues providing a slightly jarring experience to the many well-trained ears in Prydz’s fanbase.
After spinning two hours on his own, Prydz’s labelmates Olander and Fehrplay joined him on stage for a rare three way back-to-back-to-back set. The trio worked well together and had great musical chemistry, giving fans a special experience for the last hour of the night. It's a dream team combination for many Pryda Friends label fanatics, and the sight of three DJs perched atop the towering LED structure recalled images of the now-retired Swedish House Mafia.
The inevitable reality about shows of this caliber is that expectations run exceedingly high. The response both nights was overwhelmingly positive, despite the technical issues of night one. American fans have long awaited EPIC’s arrival and it made a strong showing for its first go around, even if it was more of a version 1.5 than a true 2.0.