AB Concert features GRiZ and Dan Deacon
Carnival means much more than shaky booths, underage drinking citations, and first-time marijuana experimentation; it also means great live music. In addition to the famed Wilkins Block Party, Carnival is the time of year that the Activities Board stages their magnum opus. The past thee years have seen performances by Lupe Fiasco, Icona Pop and Mac Miller, and RJD2 with Matt and Kim, but this year’s artist tops them all: GRiZ with Dan Deacon. While there certainly has been a lot of controversy surrounding this year’s pick — with some students calling for a more “mainstream” pick and everyone upset that the Tepper Quad construction has forced the concert indoors regardless of weather conditions — those with an uninformed yet open mind can be shown that this year’s concert is set to sweep them all.
25-year old Grant Kwiecinski hails from the suburbs of Detroit, a certified band geek who gained a spirited following DJing parties at Michigan State before dropping out to pursue music full time. His sound can best be described as a combination of funk, dubstep, and soul music often referred to as electro-soul or future funk. GRiZ combines heavy bass grooves with powerful horn lines that can get even the stickiest wallflower moving on the floor. Over the past few years he’s steadily climbed the live music ladder, from opening up for artists like Bassnectar, Big Gigantic, Datsik, and Pretty Lights to his own headlining tour in the fall of 2013 paired with the release of his sophomore full-length Rebel Era. Since then he has launched his own record label, All Good Records, to support fellow future funk artists and has been awarded by his native Detroit for his extensive charity work benefitting the city.
While GRiZ’s studio albums — 2012’s Mad Liberation, Rebel Era and 2015’s Say it Loud, all of which are available for free download at mynameisgriz.com — have played a big role in his proliferating popularity, its undoubtedly his incredible live performances that have catapulted him from fine print billing to main-stage headliner in only three years. Instead of just mixing tracks and asking everyone to “jump on one…. two… three … GO!”, GRiZ plays live saxophone over his songs. Watching him perform is more Bruce Springsteen than Deadmau5; he’ll queue a track, pick up his saxophone and play until his face is beet red, then queue up the next track, rinse and repeat. I’ve yet to see an electronic musician work harder on stage than GRiZ, and he has recently added the live guitar of Muzzy Bear to the show. The two are known to jam and improvise over GRiZ’s productions, adding that human “x-factor” that is so often missing in live electronic music.
Any heartfelt fan of electronic music, soul music, or music in general will without a doubt have a great time at GRiZ, whether or not you’re familiar with his music. He’s not only a dynamite performer, but his good-vibes only mantra of “Show Love, Spread Love” is exactly what Carnegie Mellon needs in these sad times.
The Baltimore-based Deacon is a graduate of the Conservatory of Music at SUNY Purchase and creates heartfelt electronic music crossed with indie rock sensibilities reminiscent of acts like Arcade Fire and Passion Pit. When performing live, Deacon conducts not only his impressive array of instruments and mixers, but also the crowd itself. The entire room comes together at the lead of Deacon, who leads in spiritual meditation and other activities aimed at breaking down personal boundaries and bringing the crowd together as one.
Deacon is another electronic musician who employs live instrumentation both in his recorded material and especially in his live show. Anything from multiple drummers to guitarists and a self-playing piano are fair game to see on stage when Deacon performs, and it’s a testament to the incredibly human nature of his music. Don’t sleep on catching Dan Deacon at this year’s Carnival, as it will certainly be a healthy mix of hippie sit-in antics and beautiful, love-infused music.