Is Mainstream EDM Losing the D?

Haywyre at the Roxy Theatre

Haywyre at the Roxy Theatre

Maybe. But it’s Definitely Gaining the M.

A Review of Haywyre’s Show at the Roxy

If you follow electronic music trends, you’ve noticed a new wave of artists who are rejecting the button-pushing, fist-pumping DJ paradigm by displaying true musicianship in their productions and live shows.

A leader of the pack is Martin Vogt aka Haywyre, who is making a name for himself as “the piano guy,” which is how the parking attendant of the Roxy Theatre so accurately described him.

Ah, the Roxy—an iconic Hollywood fixture on the Sunset strip but an odd choice for a show like this. Regardless, I’d put on my baddest “music before all else” attitude and bought a ticket to the (cue cringe) all ages show.

Why? Only after experiencing Haywyre’s reinterpretation of “Smooth Criminal” can you fully understand my excitement when I’d heard he’d be stopping in LA on his debut tour. Now the musician’s claim to fame within the electronic music community, the go-pro filmed performance video showcases the young producer’s undeniable talent and self-described “post avant-garde, pre-futuristic, jazz-fusion” sound.

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I hadn’t been to The Roxy in about 5 years and was curious to see how much it’s changed. (FYI- it hasn’t changed at all.) Sidestepping a Bostonian woman who was loudly hurling slurred insults at the bouncers, I approached the annoyed men for the routine ticket scan and ID check. (Hello 21+ wristband!) Once I’d grabbed an unusually strong cranberry-vodka, I navigated through the small crowd to the center where I like to groove.

And that’s when something (soon identified as a pair of Superman-themed boxers) came fluttering through the darkness and draped delicately over my right arm, stirring the jaded-looking crowd into a fury of laughter.

Shit.

I smiled awkwardly, let it fall to the ground, and gave a little golf clap before backing slowly into the shadows to wash my arm and grab a much-needed second drink.

haywyre As my mind swam with legitimate questions like Is someone walking around without his underwear? and Did he bring an extra pair? the opening DJ, Orri Sachar, apparently also a label manager at Monstercat (to which Haywyre is signed) brought me back into the moment.

Playing a series of future house, G house, and chill tracks, many of which I shamelessly Shazammed (yes, that’s a verb now), he readied the room for the main act and lured my reluctant self back to the dance floor.

Orri played a solid set and after an hour of bobbing heads and general vibing, out came Haywyre with his keyboard under one arm and a laptop under the other. If you noticed earlier, I referred to him as a “musician” and that was no mistake. The guy has been playing the piano since the age of six and it really shows.

He played his entire set live, fingers dancing over the keys with intense concentration and dexterity, weaving a refreshing and truly unique blend of jazz, funk, glitch, even classical elements into an electronic landscape, stopping only occasionally to pick up the mic to address the room.

When he finally led up to his grand finale (“Smooth Criminal,” of course), the crowd was galvanized again, to an intensity surpassing even the flying boxer incident. Three enthusiastic encores later, he thanked everyone and was out.

But back to our title. As great as the music was that night, it wasn’t really danceable. You could bob your head, throw up an arm, and get a subtle groove going but it was very different from the jump-inducing mainstream EDM that’s saturated the market. So heads up to those that hate on all things EDM: the current is headed in a different direction and it’s being navigated by a growing group of very talented producers that will blow your mind. Just don’t expect to shuffle.

By: Aleen Bedrosian

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