Flume’s eponymous debut album is one of those albums that I came across by chance- and I have not stopped listening to it ever since. From the first listen, I decided that I had to see Flume, otherwise known as Harley Streten, perform live. With its R&B-tinged electronic dance sound, it easily became one of my favorite albums of the year. Luckily, I had the chance to see the Sydney, Australia native perform at U Street Music Hall this past Wednesday.
When I entered the club, just as his set was starting, the first thing I noticed was that there were red paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling in addition to the standard disco balls. This provided for some atmospheric mood lighting, so appropriate for Streten’s music. Streten was playing underneath an unassuming backdrop: a large poster with FLUME emblazoned in large white letters over his album artwork. At this point, he been playing one of my personal favorites, “Sleepless” featuring Jezzabell Doran, but instead of playing it through, he tweaked with the vocals and turned it into an even glitchier and more stuttered version of the song. He then transitioned into Major Lazer’s song “Get Free.” I initially thought that he was going to just play the original, but as the song progressed I realized that he was playing the What So Not remix. When the body-crushing bass kicked in, the entire audience began to jump around and move to the beat.
As the set progressed and he played more rap music, like “On Top,” he reached out to the audience, prompting us to clap with the beat, as if to give cues for the forthcoming drops. However, this was an audience that was obviously familiar with his work; when the opening notes for the synth-cum-gospel track “Holdin’ On” came on, everyone cheered. During the swingy synths, Streten deviated from the original and unexpectedly mixed in the bridge from Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools.”
Streten closed his (surprisingly short) set with his bouncy remix of Hermitude’s “HyperParadise.” This wasn’t immediately apparent, however, because it initially sounded like an entirely new song. The only thing that sounded like the original was the vocal sample, although it was pitched a lot higher. Eventually, he lowered the pitch and transitioned smoothly into the version with which I, along with the rest of the crowd, was more familiar. The audience clapped to the beat throughout the entire song, and by a quick survey of the audience, I concluded that everyone was enjoying themselves. Flume is an artist that knows how to dance the line between hip-hop and electronic dance music, and he kept the crowd moving while having fun himself.