Odesza + Big Wild
words + photography Sunny Chen
December 1, Commodore Ballroom (Vancouver). The youth were already filling the dance floor when I entered the Commodore Ballroom, a colossal venue on the infamous Granville strip. Opening act Big Wild was leading the dancers into a lush, forested dream. Through softer sounds that reminded me of the oceans and jungles in the uninhabited world, echoed by pounding ambient rhythms, Jackson Stell's boyish sincerity and musical playfulness charmed us all.
Girls swathed in summer clothing swayed around me, their skin emblazoned with neon jewelry that radiated light in the cool darkness, and I wished I was too while capturing photos of Big Wild in his calm, natural state amid the spotlight.
After Big Wild thanked his audience and disappeared inconspicuously backstage, it was time for the second opener. Hayden James jumpstarted the party with his set, flooding the gigantic venue with soulful vocals and rolling, reverberating beats.
And then it was time for the main act. It started with complete, unannounced darkness and heart-stopping bass. Then white light began flashing simultaneously with the isolated beat, sending shivers down my spine. The crowd cheered with anticipation to welcome Odesza onstage.
The Odesza show was a spectacle to behold in person. The choreographed lights, the endless rotation of emotion-inducing projections, and the assured way Clayton Knight and Harrison Mills carried themselves on stage all co-conspired to drive their music straight into our hearts. The floor was a mess of dancing bodies, loose limbs, and sweaty palms. Glowing beach balls bounced high above the raised hands and arms; I thought they would touch the ceiling. There was no reason for anyone to contain the innate ability to move along with Odesza's intricate, upbeat rhythm. I had never seen anything like this; it was breathtaking to be a part of something so big, yet united.
The show came to an end all too soon but of course the crowd wanted more. Odesza's encore tracks were distinctly bittersweet as everyone danced the night to a close.