The mood was rowdy even before The Chainsmokers took the stage, thanks to lively beats from the Virgin Voyages drum line. The percussionists were bangin' up a storm from the lobby to the GA pit as partiers nabbed Doritos-filled swag bags and free slices of DiGiorno pizza. Crown Royal cooked up specialty cocktails for the event, like the rather crisp and delicious Billion-Dollar Apple. Instead of World War Joy Tour opening acts Lennon Stella or 5 Second of Summer, fans grooved to a DJ's funky mix of mid-2000s dance hits and Calvin Harris sing-alongs.
The lights darkened and the DJ hushed as the “Closer” crew readied, only a fashionable 12 minutes past the scheduled start time. The crowd roared and cheered as a floating head on the LED walls welcomed everyone to “World War Joy.” Red strobe lights rocked retinas as the air filled with smoke and glitched synth chaos. Pall, Taggart and McGuire ran out from stage left and took their places behind a massive array of electronic instruments and a raised drum kit, respectively.
Phones went up fast and bass came down hard as the group ripped right into a heavy dubstep and hardstyle intro, but a few minutes in, Stella's raspy voice came stuttering through, signaling a slow down and a sing-along to The Chainsmokers' Illenium collab “Takeaway.” Ladies screamed as Taggart left the synths to sing right into the front row's faces. By the time they hit the second hook, the stage exploded in CO2 cryogenic beams.
It was a heart-pumping effects rush from thereon out. Dressed in all-Miami white, Taggart never really stopped moving. Either he was skirting around the stage singing and swaying, jumping around while slamming MPC pads with Pall in the rig, or slamming his fist into McGuire's cymbals along with the beat. They nodded to their DJ background by blending each tune with live electronic transitions and separated chunks of original songs with well-known mix-ins and covers. After “Roses” came a euphoric EDM take on Red Hot Chili Peppers' “Under The Bridge.”
After “Paris” and “Push My Luck” came the slap-happy synth wonk of Federico Franchi's “Cream,” better known to the Miami audience at Pitbull and Lil Jon's “Krazy.” They mixed the Isley Brother's “Shout” into a jock jam explosion of Yo Majesty's “Club Action” and 2 Unlimited's “Get Ready For This.”
The floating head returned to give Bebe Rexha's voice a vehicle during “Call You Mine,” which was itself twisted into a thunderous bass behemoth, brought to metal-esque proportions by McGuire's feverish drumming and Taggart's first go on the guitar. He kept the instrument handy as they dipped into “Don't Let Me Down,” shooting sparks and fire from the stage toward the ceiling.
Speaking of things that are lit, McGuire's drum solo gave the show it's theatrical peak. Not content just ripping his drum heads to shreds, the undeniably-talented monster actually set his sticks on fire and finished his solo in a literal blaze of glory.
After all that action, it was fair to cool down with a string of original hits for the lovers. First came “Who Do You Love” (the audience filled in for 5 Seconds of Summer on the chorus), then “Hope” with Winona Oak, and – after a quick hardstyle breakdown – Chris Martin's disembodied voice ringing clear through the theater on “Something Just Like This.”
There was time for a couple more dance drops, including Zombie Nation's generational classic “Kernkraft 4000” and an ode to The Prodigy with “Omen.” Time can't be stopped, though, and soon enough, Taggart was doing his best Freddie Mercury impression, leading the crowd in a series of “ayos” before tricking them into lines of their 52-week No. 1 anthem “Closer.”
Close the show with that one, they did, and while there was no encore for the Miamians, people walked out with a smile. It's not every day you get so close to the The Chainsmokers you can feel the flames, but it might just be the best way to experience their hybrid ride.