On Aug. 12, electronic musicians Porter Robinson and Madeon released their long-awaited collaboration “Shelter” to critical acclaim. They announced soon after that they would be embarking on a worldwide tour in support of “Shelter:” the Shelter Live Tour. With 44 shows across three continents in five months, this ambitious undertaking was a well-received surprise. On Friday, Nov. 25 at 8:00 p.m., the Shelter Live Tour will have its third and final performance at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco as Robinson and Madeon take the stage with opening support from up-and-coming future bass prodigy San Holo.
The world of electronic dance music is no stranger to talent, but it has rarely seen the likes of Robinson and Madeon. At 24 and 22 years old, respectively, the two have already established a reputation for unparalleled musicality and uniqueness. Sharing a distinctive indie dance sound replete with tastefully layered beats and basslines, the Shelter Live Tour was a long time coming. Robinson and Madeon are longtime friends, having met as teens online before the world of electronic dance music exploded into the mainstream. The pair, having found separate paths to success, now find themselves atop the bastion of stardom that defines contemporary electronic music.
Robinson and Madeon began their journeys in electronic music when they were both teenagers. Robinson broke out in 2011 with the release of “Spitfire,” an 11-track EP on Skrillex’s OWSLA Records. Infused with grinding basslines and a youthful energy, “Spitfire” shot quickly to the number-one spot on the iTunes Dance chart at the Beatport charts. His first studio album, “Worlds,” accompanied by an eponymous tour, represented a significant departure from his previous style, infusing Japanese anime influences from the Vocaloid to pentatonic melodies within his music, a pattern that began with his collaboration “Easy” with Mat Zo. “Worlds” is emotional; “Worlds” is heartfelt. It is sadness and excitement and longing and peace — given life through the sound of music. It is not so much listened as it is felt — an apt testament to Robinson’s artistry.
Madeon, meanwhile, found success through YouTube, releasing a live mashup of 39 songs called “Pop Culture.” The video went viral, amassing millions of views within days of its release. He soon released “The City” EP, developing a unique brand of synthy, bouncy electronic dance music. He continued that style with “Adventure,” released in March 2015, embarking as well on a North American tour to promote the album. “Adventure” flows seamlessly from track to track as the waning melodies of one track segue into the central motifs of another. Madeon’s characteristic sample-based, clean-cut musical style shines in “Pay No Mind” and “Okay,” but his artistic capabilities extend far beyond these lighthearted vignettes. Madeon effortlessly crafts light-footed, waltzy dances — only to then create a rhapsodic ballad. “Technicolor,” for example, proffers a fresh artistic perspective on contemporary electronic music, taking the listener on an poignant, cinematic epic through music, traversing multitudes of feelings, emotions and sounds.
Somehow, the two artists have maintained an ineffable thread of artistic commonality — an innovative sense of tasteful crispness juxtaposed alongside profound emotiveness. But until the release of the single “Shelter” this August, Robinson and Madeon had not released any music together. “Shelter” was an overdue but well-received gift to the electronic music community, having accrued over three million plays in the preceding months. Musically, “Shelter” is the spontaneous result of years of artistic maturation, a stark departure from the bouncy, driving complextro grooves of the pair’s artistic youth. “Shelter” has a powerful, emotive feeling that stirs slowly about the sentimental backdrop of chords. It is poignant, nostalgic; it cries for a home, for a “someone.” Or perhaps we feel joy and comfort, a sense of security and safety — of shelter.
As Porter Robinson and Madeon make their last stop in San Francisco Friday night, we the listeners should experience nothing less than unadulterated amazement. Expect scenes of innocence, expect scenes of loss. Expect to hear the sound of euphoria, expect to hear despair. But most of all, expect to be fulfilled. Expect to be awed at the opportunity to stand witness to the ritualistic musical spectacle, borrowed — if only for a few hours — from the imagination of Robinson and Madeon.
Contact Trenton Chang at tchang97 ‘at’ stanford.edu.