Concert Reviews

The Best Show of My Life Was at Lights All Night, Right When I'd Lost Hope

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A countdown appears, 30 is the top, and what happens at zero? Not much actually, other than an increase in both the sound's volume and the intensity at which Walshy Fire's dance moves flirt with a 50-foot freefall. The lights grow more violent, and highlighter colors fly, explode into dots and squiggle in a dozen erratic darts that threaten to tattoo darkened splotches onto brainstems. Now, there are two long-haired dancers on each side of the stage, spinning ropes of hair as their bodies contort, throwing beads of sweat that become airborne pearls when met with flashes of white. My God, it's all so beautiful.

See also: How Lights All Night Became Dallas' Biggest EDM Festival

The music has hit its stride, it's in full swing now -- a globally eclectic, electro-dancehall music that sounds like a dub house party from outer space. The crowd is drunk with elation, but nobody is having more fun than Diplo on stage. The fans feed off his whimsical fury, and as if connected by invisible wires, both audience and performer inspire one another to higher planes of enjoyment. This is the most sensually rich canvas dance music has enjoyed all weekend. The good mood and high-energy participation of the three performers is the main reason why. At various points throughout the night, each artist has made his way down from the DJ landing to engage the audience more intimately, whether that be through stage-side dancing, operating blowtorches of fog or, as in Diplo's case, walking over the crowd encased in a human bubble. The level of showmanship is unlike anything else at Lights All Night.

Too many high points, too many stellar singles: During "Bubble Butt," Walshy Fire asks all the "biggest assed" women to come upfront. Security guards escort them to the stage, and then, under eruptions of glittery steam, the liveliest twerking rally ever commences. This isn't merely electronic music, this is performance art. The scene is so silly and willfully vapid it's more funny and fun than crass or dumb. And the instructions from up on high keep raining down. "I want to see everybody take your shirts off," so we do. Shirts are now lassoes swinging overhead. A drum 'n' bass interlude precedes another command: "I want to see you throw your shirts into the air ... on the count of three." One ... two ... three, and you almost can't believe it, nearly everyone obeys; it's Mardi Gras inside the Dallas Convention Center.

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Jonathan Patrick

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