Act: Virtual Self
Date: September 29th, 2018
Location: San Francisco
Virtual Self, Porter Robinson’s Side Project, launched itself over a year ago with no warning. His self-titled EP garnered a lot of attention in the EDM scene for being so different than anything else at the time. Virtual Self combines 2000’s IDM, Japanese DDR tunes, old internet message boards, and underground club vibes into one singular sound on his EP and his attention to detail shows. Songs like Ghost Voices were praised for their originality and their combination of new and old trends in electronic music. Porter Robinson has a history of awe-inducing live sets, with his Worlds Tour and Shelter Live shows being praised by concert goers and critics alike. His Virtual Self Utopia System Tour is no different, being one of the best live shows I have personally seen.
The show opens with Raito, the only opener to the main act. Raito is a techno and rave producer and was on the Virtual Self remix EP with his two different Ghost Voices remixes. His sets felt something akin to the legendary Berlin underground rave scene in the 90s, except with a bit of influence from the modern era of techno. He played a mix of trance, techno, and old school house music that was chill but still fun to dance to. While his sets didn’t get as many people jumping as the main act, the vibe was wonderful and transitioned into Virtual Self’s set perfectly.
Virtual Self came on shortly after, and proceeded to open with the best opener I have ever had the pleasure of seeing live. With a slow buildup done by a robotic voice filled with his iconic Virtual Self esque phrases such as “Has my virtual-Echo been forgotten?” and “The digital-Angel-Awakening has reached Limit Self.” As his slow buildup reaches its climax he ends with one last “Virtual Self” before going into one of the most surreal visual experiences I’ve everhad at a concert. He then proceeds to follow that up with something even more surreal for his next drop, unleashing the full extent his Utopia System is capable of. Without spoiling any more, I’d recommend anyone who is into virtual self to check out the first 5 minutes of his live set on youtube.
The rest of his set was a constant blend of many electronic genres reminiscent of the early 2000’s and late 90’s electronic scene that covered a large range of different emotions. He split his live show into 2 sections, one for Technic-Angel and one for Pathselector, the two mascots of his Virtual Self brand. Pathselector played the first half with a more chill and house-y vibe while Technic-Angel took over the second half with a much more aggressive and hard hitting set. There were songs played from DDR games, old anime openings, and even Simple and Clean from the Final Fantasy soundtrack. It’s obvious his track list is very nostalgic and fond of that time period, but his set is much more than just a throwback. The amount of live edits that he plays would make you think he made the entire set himself. The set goes on for an hour before Virtual Self leaves the stage but comes back after a few minutes to close out with a very intense and explosive encore playing some of the hardest songs of the night. His last song is EON BREAK, ending the concert with a cinematic finale.
Music Choice: 9
Recommendation: Must go, especially if you like techno (but he’s not touring anymore)
If anyone has seen Serial Experiments Lain, it is just like Club Cyberia, which is the most I could have ever hoped for going into the concert.