We are living in a time in which some electronic music producers and DJs receive criticism for overly simple, sometimes pre-recorded live sets. But 21 year-old Grant Kwiecinski—better known as GRiZ—dares to be different. Thursday night at the Orpheum Theater, he rocked the crowd with an electrifying set complete with his signature saxophone jams and stunning visual production.
GRiZ frequently incorporates saxophone in his music, which can best be described as electro soul funk. With hip-hop drum beats, slick guitar riffs and buzzing synths, he creates a unique sound evident in both his recorded music and live shows. He spends a good amount of time on stage multitasking between playing the saxophone and DJing from his computer and MIDI controller.
The opening riff from his popular single “Gettin’ Live” cued up right at 11 p.m., and the crowd immediately snapped to attention and cheered in anticipation. GRiZ took to the stage with his saxophone at the ready, improvising jams throughout the whole first song. Several choruses and drops later, the audience was enthusiastically grooving to the music. The high-energy sets included GRiZ originals as well as covers and collaborations with other artists. He played several songs from his side project with Gramatik—cleverly titled GRiZMatik—such as “Digital Liberation is Mad Freedom” and “My People.” A majority of the crowd seemed to be committed GRiZ fans who knew the songs well enough that they could shout out one-liner samples used in various songs. This contributed to the fun atmosphere and vibes that GRiZ fed off of.
Toward the middle of his nearly two-hour set, GRiZ took a break from electronic to amp up the energy with the Isley Brother’s classic “Shout,” which got the crowd jumping up and down and ushered in a second wind for many. He followed that with another crowd-pleaser, The Champs’ “Tequila.” Just as quickly as the electronic vibes had left, GRiZ brought them back in a big way by transitioning “Tequila” into a particularly dirty, in-your-face dubstep drop. The second half of his set contained more remixes and covers, but still packed a punch.
GRiZ left the stage at nearly 1 a.m., but the crowd wasn’t ready to call it a night just yet. They coaxed him back out, hooting and hollering for an encore. After several minutes, GRiZ returned to the stage and played another three songs, including his “Welcome to Jamrock” remix that got him exposure in the beginning of his career. He ended with another exceptional remix of Kanye West and Jay-Z’s “Niggas in Paris,” which rocked the house.
In addition to the music itself, GRiZ’s visual production, with moving lights and multiple LED panels, was awesomely stunning. They accompanied the music well and made the experience that much better for the audience.
It’s hard to believe that in just a year, GRiZ went from playing at the significantly smaller Segredo’s to nearly selling out the Orpheum Theatre. There’s no denying it: The sky is the limit for this young producer.