EDM mainstay Said the Sky eased into his performance at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium March 11. His crowd patiently bopped to his three openers before soft trilling synth resounded through the venue; stormy lighting and effervescent raindrops lit up the back screen as Said the Sky began his set to thunderous cheers and whoops.
Trevor Christensen, who performs under the stage name Said the Sky, bounced onto the EDM scene in 2014, with recent musical developments sped by his partnership with thrilling EDM artist Illenium. On tour promoting his sophomore album Sentiment, Said the Sky melded his practiced professionality from his career of more than 20 years with evocative emotion to thrill the crowded audience at Bill Graham.
For the show’s opener, smooth synth transitioned to thrumming vocals from Caly Bevier on the airy track “Gold.” “Don’t get caught up in the bad things,” read the screen behind Christensen. “So many great things out there for you.” Such positivity was a theme throughout the night; inspiring couplets would flit onto the screens between old school filmography, flashing patterns and live footage of Christensen and the band pounding away at their instruments.
Some of Said the Sky’s aesthetic choices diverged from classic EDM styles. During “Emotion Sickness” featuring Parachute and Will Anderson, a Tumblr-era-style font rolled lyrics over shots of a young couple on stands, in a car, sitting side by side, falling in love. Intimacy woven into the expected standard rave fare elevated the set, again bringing the crowd and Christensen together.
Much of the music Said the Sky played live was identical to the original tracks on Sentiment, sandwiched between remixes of other artists. All were received raucously by the crowd, which jostled and swayed back and forth, screaming lyrics at the top of its lungs.
The range of lighting arrangements aided this emotionality. From crystal-clear light blue beams and swirling galaxies in the dreamy remix of RL Grime’s “Atoms” to the fiery, pounding hearts and blood red rays during “Spider,” each flash coupled with a thrumming base drop encouraged fists to pound and arms to swing.
Many of Said the Sky’s tracks can be categorized as “simp” music, songs about what it is like to be deep in love or about longing for a partner’s touch. As a result, lulls between songs where love ballads would ring through the room to simplistic lighting allowed the audience to marinate in their feels. “Legacy,” with love-laden chords by State Champs, was a prime example, as spotlights lit up the room before sparkling as the bass dropped.
Contrastingly, songs such as “Go on Then, Love,” with vocals from The Maine, can almost be categorized as alternative rock-adjacent with their exciting mounting drum solos, to which Christensen’s live camera pictured him pounding away at a drumset. An abstract red filter overlaid this live footage, especially as the drummer took the beat into his own hands.
Raves can occasionally create distance between the artist and the crowd, as an EDM artist is not about to stop the action to engage in dialogue with the audience. However, Said the Sky’s splicing of his live footage — particularly when the bass would drop — facilitated his connection with the audience. The concertgoers could see that he was just as into this song or that instrumental as they were, making the music and the moment more personally meaningful.
The show wound down as Said the Sky freestyled a set of new remixes, most notably from alternative artists such as Panic! At the Disco. “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” was met by the crowd chanting and jumping to the iconic lyrics, with a simplistic neon guitar strumming on screen.
For song after song, a rainbow of lights beamed, flashed and poured onto the audience, building the energy up higher. During particularly animated moments, a set of fog machines at the head of the stage would spurt smoke into the air.
The night ended with the encore track of “Walk Me Home,” with vocals and mixing by Illenium and Chelsea Cutler. As Cutler’s vocals rang out into the pitch-black auditorium, the strumming of a guitar accompanied the crescendoing lighting and reentry of Christensen to the stage. Smoke machines blasted and blue confetti poured, with Said the Sky headbanging away as the audience belted lyrics.
The evening concluded as the auditorium’s lights came back on and the bonded crowd filed out to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” — the most appropriate tune for the love-soaked night to end on.