gramatik

There’s no better time to catch an artist than right before their new album drops, especially when it’s poised to catapult them into the next level. Typically, they’re fired up, eager to share their new creation and watch it destroy the dancefloor. Last night, Gramatik treated the Wiltern to just that type of set, executing an extremely well-spaced mix of soulful electrofunk that touched on genres ranging from electro-swing to dubstep. Here’s a recap of my night.

No trip to LA is complete without traffic, so I missed Exmag‘s opening set. However, thanks to a huge shift in music culture around here, and Jason Bentley‘s good work at KCRW, there was an amazing mix of jazzy deep house on the radio to put me in a dancing mood. I arrived at the venue in time to catch the second half of Herobust‘s performance. But before hitting the dance floor, the Wiltern deserved a tour. It’s one of the most beautiful venues I’ve ever seen, with multiple stories and a gradually sloping series of seatless tiers that takes you down towards the pit. Due to size limitations, wristbands are given out first-come, first-serve for pit access, but I was more than happy to enjoy the show from one of the lower levels. The speakers were EQ’s perfectly, with just enough bass for that comforting rumble that instantly brings you home. Herobust’s set was a bit off, however, with 1 unique song to every 5 generic ones and lots of wasted noise. The crowd was also an awkward mix, with a solid contingent of high-schoolers mixed in with clubbers, music lovers, and DoLab-ers. Luckily, it was easy to find dancing room, and soon enough Gramatik was up.

He took the stage with guitarist F.A.Q., who wasted no time opening the set with a blues riff that reminded me of a Buddy Guy show I recently attended. There was no shortage of classic blues vibes throughout the set, a very pleasant surprise. After starting the night with some rock n roll, Gramatik reigned in the set with ‘Just Jammin,’ a favorite from SB Vol. 2 from the ‘laid-back hip-hop beats’ days. The set then steadily gained energy as he swept the crowd off its feet to ‘So Much For Love,’ ‘Fist Up,’ and plenty of unreleased tracks off the forthcoming ‘Age of Reason’ album. At first, I thought that some of the songs may have played out a bit too long, but it quickly became apparent that Gramatik has broken through to that next level of djing where the set isn’t about songs, it’s about a vibe, energy, and flow, and once 10 minutes went by, the entire crowd was flowing along. Many of my favorite moments were unreleased tracks, which is a huge indication that this will be his best album yet. Cameos from Gibbz, who brought an incredible disco voice, and Exmag, who closed out the show with ‘Creep Steady,’ rounded out the night.

Gramatik’s ‘Age of Reason’ tour continues through the end of the month. Check out dates here to see if he’s in your area, and watch for the album to drop for free on Lowtemp, his new label.