This music is the other side of what’s referred to as EDM (another vague title), the logical counterpoint to the spine-snapping tunes, caffeinated and heavily influenced by trap, that dominated mainstream dance music in recent years. Pop culture is quick to evolve, so it's not too surprising that variations on “tropical” are now riding high. In 2014, Robin Schulz’s remix of Mr. Probz’s “Waves” – which is slightly speedier than the average Kygo song -- claimed the top spot in a number of countries and crested at No. 14 on the Hot 100 in America. Last year, Justin Bieber sprinkled Kygo-like dust on “What Do You Mean” and “Sorry,” both of which went to No. 1. The German DJ Felix Jaehn’s remix of Omi’s “Cheerleader,” which explored similar territory, was also a No. 1.
Kygo performed at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn last night with support from MØ and Conrad Sewell, and he pulled out all the stops to combat a cold New York night and an impending blizzard. Images of palm trees flashed behind him several times in bright neon hues; lasers etched colorful linear patterns in the arena air; balloons dropped at a key juncture; long, weeping-willow streams of confetti soared over the crowd.
The DJ cycled through several of his singles, some of his best known remixes -- offering his take on Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” along with his reworking of the Weeknd’s “Often” (the clean version) -- and a few tracks that he announced will appear on his debut album, due later this year. Throughout the evening, the focus was on Kygo’s musicianship: as beats drifted through the confetti-laden air, the cameras zoomed in on his fingers, which dutifully looped through the symmetrical riffs that form the principal melodies in his tracks. At crucial moments, the backdrop’s kaleidoscopic array of screens all projected his keyboard work at once, suggesting an army of pianists -- each one wearing a backwards hat.
Modern dance music stars frequently work with an interchangeable cast of vocal collaborators, and Kygo brought out several singers to strut below his elevated platform of electronics. One in particular stood out: Shaggy made a surprising appearance, appealing to Brooklyn pride as soon as he took the stage and earning one of the night’s loudest salvos of applause. He also performed his classic single “It Wasn’t Me,” which temporarily turned Kygo into a sideshow.
Conrad Sewell Talks Debut EP, Performing With Kygo & More
The DJ’s other collaborators, Maty Noyes and Parson James, were more deferential. Noyes trotted out to perform “Stay,” Kygo’s latest single. James, dressed in a flat-brimmed hat and what looked like a scientist’s lab coat, appeared toward the end of the evening for a rendition of “Stole The Show" from last year. As the song pushed towards its peak, James executed a series of twirls, sparks erupted, and confetti spewed from the stage. But Kygo's fingers stayed busy, urging on the crowd with the sound of a pan flute.
Kygo - Live At The Barclays Center Album Review