“Tonight’s show involves bright flashing/strobe lights during the performance. If you are susceptible to seizures, do not enter the show.”
That was the message show-goers found on the door of the Majestic on Thursday night as they geared up to see Colorado-based Paper Diamond. That is, once they made it to the door. The line for the sold-out show was a heaving mass of bodies all elbowing, pushing and cutting to get inside to the bright lights, the bass and the beer.
Once inside, the crowd joined the already-packed dance floor, forcing themselves into the thin cracks that constituted personal space. Fueled with Thursday night adrenaline and beginning-of-semester indignation, the crowd was ready to party.
When Paper Diamond took the stage just after midnight, a wall of sound burst from his speakers, shattering the silence and the reserve of his now-captive audience. If the show wasn’t going to be good, it damn well was going to be loud.
The name Paper Diamond arose from the concept of making something complex out of something simple, a feat the producer repeatedly achieves by complicating the notion of electronic music.
His sound is not quickly classifiable, straying at times into heavy, dense dubstep, then diving headfirst into glitch hop before careening into cascading electro beats. The only constant in Thursday’s genre-traipsing set was the quarter note beat that allows Paper Diamond’s music to be vaguely described as dance.
Perched behind a DJ booth with the iPad he mixes with in hand, Paper Diamond opened his set with a hip hop-laden track that set the dance tone firmly to “head bob.” Sated with table-shaking bass and the blur of the strobe light, the crowd abided, ebbing and flowing to the sounds.
After coming on strong with a half dozen danceable tracks like his Drake remix “Throw It In the Bag” and Tron-esque “All Green Lights”, the set lulled a bit, devolving into chiller, more down-tempo beats with less erratic lights. Perhaps seeing the effect on the almost confused, swaying audience, Paper Diamond abruptly changed courses, throwing up a Knife Party track followed immediately by Rusko’s “Hold On.” When the lights flared up, so did the energy.
His light setup traveled nearly 1,000 miles to visually assault the willing crowd with machine gun strobe lights and pops of rainbow color. When the crowd wasn’t gleefully blinded by the lights they were warned about at the door, they could catch glimpses of Paper Diamond moving to his own music. He was free to twist and bob to his tracks, his mobility limited only by the iPad glued to his hands.
The neon baseball-capped and midriff-bearing audience was so dazzled by the lights and wooed by the flow of the set that not one but two enthusiastic fans leaped onto stage to touch Paper Diamond. The first shook the producer’s hand before being quickly escorted off stage; an hour later, the second snatched a hug before jumping back into the crowd. The ear-splitting cheer that erupted when Paper Diamond cried for the crowd to “make some motherfucking noise” soundly confirmed the crowd’s approval.
While the glowstringers in the audience found themselves with not much to work with and the few candy kids were dispersed amongst a mostly drunk, mostly collegiate crowd, the overall vibe given by the audience was one of primal pleasure.
Winding down his set with Paper Diamond show favorite “Can We Go Up” and a remix of Kanye West’s “Power”, the DJ heeded the call of “one more song,” playing a track from his upcoming EP Paragon. When the last beats had faded and the lights stilled, the Majestic was full of blinking show goers whose senses had just been fully overloaded. While a return trip to Madison is not yet in the works, when Paper Diamond does make it back he’s sure to kill another sold-out show.