When it comes to music, my taste lacks nuance. My analysis of live performances follows a simple flowchart. Does the concert move me to tears (example: Jeff Mangum performing solo at the Shubert earlier this semester)? And if not, does it make me want to drop everything and dance until I’m dizzy? If I cannot answer “yes” to either of these questions, I will deem the act unworthy of the effort it takes to see it live (even if the show takes place in my own backyard). Like I said, unnuanced. And my criteria for Spring Fling is no different.
3LAU, pronounced “Blau,” is the title name of Justin Blau, a young producer and mashup artist known for his remixes of Top 40 tracks. His performance occupied that critical final hour of the day, the transition period when Yalies make or break their Spring Fling dreams before moving on to Toad’s. Though his large online following gives credence to the catchiness of his remixes, a critical question remained. 3LAU’s tracks are invigorating enough when blasted through computer speakers, but would his onstage performance be enough to sustain that Spring Fling high during the later hours, making us forget our tired limbs and parched lips in order to dance some more?
The giant mosh pit that formed near the front of stage was enough evidence to suggest the answer: yes. Farther away from the stage, the dancing was a little less aggressive, with the rest of the crowd jumping and twisting to the familiar beats of their favorite party music. The tracks were heady as 3LAU took favorite pop tracks like Red Hot Chili Pepper’s “Otherside” and Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” and blended them with new sounds. His remixing did not contain any surprises, but it did take the music we already love to brand new levels. In a way, 3LAU’s whole performance felt like party-masturbation, allowing us to drink in pleasurable tunes that had been amplified, their appeal becoming even more overwhelming and visceral. Not exactly the type of music esteemed by the intelligentsia, but for college kids looking for an excuse to dance in a sweaty heap, it did the job.
Though 3LAU’s dancing and bouncing throughout the set kept the audience engaged, there were some moments when he and his table set-up looked small. The neon light and fog show was not enough to prevent him from looking swallowed up by the stage. Unlike other musical performances, the audience sometimes lacked a clear visual anchor on which to pin its energy.
But luckily he fed the energy in another way. He had a natural intuition about the audience, expertly using his beats to control the crowd. In each of his remixes, he created a taut suspense, waiting until the last moment to hit the crowd with his most potent sounds. The highest highs were reached during the mashup “Set Fire,” a visceral, urgent twist on Adele’s beloved pipes. During this track especially, Spring Fling dreams, previously disappointed by underwhelming performances of T-Pain and Passion Pit, were fulfilled, the audience turning into a wild, flailing tangle of arms and bobbing heads.
Some may protest that 3LAU’s music is only an unapologetic pandering to catchy, poppy, superficially appealing tunes. This may all be true, but to the people who were dancing under drunken veneers, his remixes had the perfect mix of new and old. The music itself was not life-changing enough so for audience members to pinpoint a single incredible moment, but as a whole, the performance was a good climax for the insanity of the day. Forget talk of musical innovation or complex chord progression to savor — music for Spring Fling only needs to be good in the moment. 3LAU was conducive to unselfconscious dancing, and, in the end, that was all anyone cared about.