Flume melts faces at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom
Electronic producer Flume recently sold out three consecutive nights at the Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom in Chicago during his 2022 Palaces Tour. The EDM pioneer not only brought an amazing production, but also played a set which was simultaneously as chaotic and technical as his new album, which the tour is named after.
Before getting into the show, I want to just point out that whoever booked this venue for the tour made a brilliant decision. The Aragon Ballroom is an amazing place to see a show, with three floors, beautiful architecture (including 360-degree arches, separating the crowd from the outer concourse) and a ceiling painted to look like the Milky Way. This place definitely was the perfect venue to host the Palaces Tour, because it literally felt like we were in one.
Starting off the show was the lo-fi synth lord himself, Chromesparks.
This was my second time seeing him; the first was when he opened for Madeon during a tour in 2021. The Pennsylvania-born producer looked much more comfortable onstage and played a similarly moving set, which started out as a slow, melodic rhythm, which — over the course of the set — crescendoed into a certified groove. It’s sometimes difficult to tell when Chromesparks songs end and another begins, which — in my opinion — adds to the journey the set takes you on. The increasing level of intensity is almost hard to detect, because it’s so smooth that he will have you bobbing your head and shuffling your feet without even knowing it.
Following Chromesparks was a Swedish lo-fi house producer by the name of DJ Seinfeld. A bit more upbeat than his predecessor, yet still somewhat melancholic, DJ Seinfeld played a funky house set that had the crowd fist-pumping, priming them for the sonic insanity that Flume was scheduled to unleash.
Finally, the lights went low and Flume took the stage.
With a small keyboard and mixer on his left and right, and a singular white arch behind him, he began one of the most technically precise and somehow still wildly chaotic shows I have ever seen. This is the duality of Flume: his songs contain some of the most technically well-composed riffs in all of EDM, but also can disintegrate into madness at the drop of a hat. The range of sounds this man can make come out of a computer and the precision with which he delivers them rival the likes of dubstep legends like Excision, just without the over-aggressive baselines. Flume takes a more sophisticated approach to blowing your mind.
The show continued, alternating between old hits and new unsyncopated symphonies off of his recent release and third studio album, Palaces. Slowly, the singular arch behind him began to unfold, multiplying into multiple arches. As the virtual hallways evolved behind them, they mirrored the hallways of the Ballroom, completing the circle of arches that surrounded the crowd. Once it fully unfolded, the backdrop became a perfect canvas for the visuals that were being projected upon it. Fans swooned and faces melted as Flume rendered his orchestra of digital sounds unto the crowd. All in all, the show was made up of a beautiful combination of bangers — both old and new — and an epic encore, featuring a remix of Lorde‘s “Tennis Courts”, which ended the night by putting a smile on everyone’s faces. Flume’s Palaces Tour continues across the United States this summer and the rest of the world later in 2022. Be sure to catch the show at the nearest stop to you!
Photography by Sean Rider