The OWSLA tour was something that I have been excited to see ever since they originally announced it a few months ago. Birdy Nam Nam was the primary reason. But also being able to see MONSTA and Nick Thayer all on the same night for the first time made this event an important one in my calendar. Ever since Skrillex released the 'Going Hard' Mix video back in July on Youtube, Birdy Nam Nam has been at the very top of my bucket list of EDM acts to watch. The expectations were high for the OWSLA night in Ottawa, but did the event deliver? Hell yes it did and I'll tell you why.
From their unique DJ set up to how they perform live, everything that Birdy Nam Nam is doing is fresh. Birdy Nam Nam is your answer if you're looking to see something a little bit different from your standard CDJ/Laptop DJ act. Not that there is anything wrong with DJs that use CDJs/Laptops, but Birdy Nam Nam takes what it means to perform live EDM to a whole new level.
I'm not quite sure how their live setup works exactly but from what I gathered it looked like each member had a Serato live setup, a Maschine pad, a mixer, and a Macbook. Each member looked like they had control of a certain aspect of the track and manipulated it as they saw fit. The way they set up their live performances I can assume that it will guarantee that no two live sets are exactly the same. This description of their setup is from my personal observations only, but I suspect that I am on the right track.
Birdy Nam Nam was the first act up among the headliners to play at Mansion last night as local DJ @Givehimmeds was given warm up duties. The crowd was sparse by the time Birdy Nam Nam took the stage but that all changed in mere moments as the place quickly filled up as everyone was won over by these four French DJs. Their music and energy was intoxicating as they set the tone with some heavy electro beats that served to electrify the enthusiastic crowd. I could not pick out too many individual tracks as the music all blended seamlessly together in an intricate and creative set. Each individual member of Birdy Nam Nam looked like as if they fed off each other's energy with DJ Pone being the main protagonist in bringing the crowd into their world. This was the first time that I saw Birdy Nam Nam but it won't certainly be the last. If you ever have a chance to catch them live, do not hesitate, and just go.
Following Birdy Nam Nam was MONSTA, the UK trio composed of two DJ/producers (Rufio and Rocky) and one vocalist (Skaar). These guys have recently burst onto the scene thanks to their signing to Skrillex' OWSLA label and the breakout track 'Holdin' On'. How Skrillex first discovered MONSTA was quite interesting because at first he thought that Skaar's vocals were actually an Aretha Franklin sample after his tour manager gave him a MONSTA track to listen to at SXSW.
Ottawa was lucky enough to be MONSTA's Canadian debut on the OWSLA Tour and they definitely left an impression. Their set was essentially divided into two parts. The first part was composed of Rufio and Rocky playing a dubstep infused set with the stand out track being 'Krome & Time - The License (Doctor P Remix)'. This track was also well received when Skrillex also dropped it at Bluesfest back in July. The second half was dominated by MONSTA vocalist Skaar as he gave a live vocal performance of their latest self titled EP . It took Skaar one song ('Messiah') to properly warm up his voice/groove and once he did you really felt his passion for this music flowing through him as he gave a solid performance of 'Where did I go' and my favourite 'Holdin' On'. As soon as Skaar left the stage Rufio and Rocky ended their set with Skrillex and Nero's remix of 'Holdin' On' which was a real crowd pleaser.
Nick Thayer ended the night with a take-no-prisoners high energy set that showcased some of the best tracks in electro, dubstep, moombathon, with a little hip hop sprinkled in. Although Skrillex wasn't present at the Ottawa show, Nick Thayer kept his music alive by dropping many of his hits including 'Breaking a Sweat', 'Make it Bun Dem', and. 'Bangarang'.
*Update: Following the release of this article Nick Thayer informed me on Twitter that "at least 50% of what I played was brand new unreleased material from me". Admittedly I had tried and failed to ID many tracks from Nick Thayer's set, which puzzled me at first, but makes perfect sense now following our Twitter exchange. According Nick Thayer, the yet unreleased track names are 'Worlds Collide', 'Rebirth', 'Dosimeter' with Crystal Method. Thanks for the information Nick!
The OWSLA Tour offered something a little different than your standard EDM event as this half of the tour showcased artists not often seen in Canada. Hopefully the OWSLA Tour is only the beginning of something bigger as this will help pave the road for more eclectic names to be booked in North America.
You can still catch the OWSLA Tour in Toronto tomorrow night at the Wrongbar and on Thursday, November 15th in Montreal at the Telus Theatre.