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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

The Chainsmokers play to a packed house at Ace of Spades

The Chainsmokers play for UC Davis students at the Ace of Spaces in Sacramento, CA. (JAY GELVEZON / AGGIE)
The Chainsmokers play for UC Davis students at the Ace of Spaces in Sacramento, CA. (JAY GELVEZON / AGGIE)

A night of revelry and dance in the midst of midterms

On Thursday, Feb. 4, a few hundred UC Davis students waited outside of the Ace of Spades venue in Sacramento, anticipating the appearance of The Chainsmokers, an electronic dance music duo who were headlining an event made possible by the Tilt app.


Entering the venue was a nightmare, as the will call process was abandoned and floods of students were allowed into the venue without tickets or IDs, although most were just happy to be near the music and out of the cold.

Sydewaze, another EDM duo made up of two UC Davis students, Brandon Bolender and Nick Casas, opened the show. They kicked off the evening with some of the most popular tunes in the EDM scene, mixing well-known bass drops with sing-along vocals. The excitement in the room was palpable as more and more students entered the venue to see two of their own on stage. Sydewaze’s opening performance was indicative of the general vibe of the night. The duo knew their crowd and played favorites for an hour, with the crowd’s anticipation for The Chainsmokers growing with every bass drop.

The Chainsmokers came onstage to a tumult of applause, wearing plain T-shirts and jeans. Perhaps their outfits proved that they knew what they were there to do — entertain college students, give them a little freedom and an outlet from studying and stress. Generally, the duo’s brand of EDM is Top-40 pop. They are best known for their remixes of Indie hits, including “Pumping Blood” by the NONONO, “Habits (Stay High)” by Tove Lo and “Sway” by Anna Of The North. They played all of these tracks and more, sometimes slowing the beat down or dropping a different, unexpected bassline.

The duo played their well-known track “#Selfie” about 20 minutes into the set, introducing it by telling the crowd to put their middle fingers in the air if they hated it, making it clear that they had moved beyond the kitschy hit that had once defined them. The new arrangement of the song made the old bassline nearly indiscernible, but the crowd did not seem bothered by the unexpected twist. Having gotten their first hit out of the way, The Chainsmokers continued to play crowd-pleasing vocals mixed over huge and frequent bass drops.


One of the defining moments of the performance was the duality The Chainsmokers expressed with one of their bigger hits, entitled “Kanye.” When they first mixed in the track, the crowd grew visibly excited. The high-pitched, confectionary vocals melted over the bassline, proclaiming, “I wanna be like Kanye / I’ll be the king of me always / do what I want, I’ll have it my way.” The multicolored lights matched the bright pink hearts smattered across the screens surrounding the stage, striking a clear image of the overall vibe of the night — bright, easy, Top-40 fun. Just when the set began to feel like a radio jam, however, the lights changed to a mixture of blue and gold, and the screens were pasted with a plain black image. The bass dropped deep, much closer to a hardstyle EDM song than the more pop versions The Chainsmokers usually employ. It was, as one student proclaimed, “dirty.”

Besides this unexpected and promising moment, the rest of the set was fairly tame. The crowd was not nearly as energized as it was during the early portion of the performance, excluding a high moment when “Californication” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers was introduced as “some sexy throwback California music.” The Chainsmokers ended the set rather abruptly, heading backstage for about a minute before they came back out and played a brand new song entitled “Don’t Let Me Down.” The song itself was nothing special, but what was noteworthy, however, is that the song was played for UC Davis students two hours before its official release.

Overall, the event was successful. Though The Chainsmokers’ set finished on an underwhelming note, Davis students swayed, sang and jumped their way through a couple of stress-free hours on a Thursday night.


WRITTEN BY: Sara Williams – arts@theaggie.org


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