Driving from North Jersey to Philadelphia in rush-hour traffic on a Friday after a long work week, only to turn around and head home a few hours later, may seem a bit much to most. It boiled down to almost five-total hours of driving across 250-plus miles, but in the end taking the trip to the “City of Brotherly Love” was worth every ticking second and driven inch. This time, Porter Robinson and Madeon, two DJ’s that enjoyed meteoric rises to the top of their game, were at the other end of the trek. Midway through their back-to-back Shelter Live Tour, the duo has routinely been selling out every stop.
The renowned Electric Factory was the location — a good, old-fashioned, gritty, warehouse venue positioned on the edge of Northern Philly, three blocks from I-676’s exit. From the street, through the 12-foot-high fence wrapped around the property, it didn’t look like much. Yet, with the bass building on approach, it told everyone that this big-room club had more to reveal. Adding to the hype were clear snippets of music, heard by all standing in line as the doors opened-and-closed by people feverishly jetting in.
Stepping inside unveiled the full picture. The completely decked-out venue was filled with LED screens flashing branded graphics, flat-screen TV’s live-streaming the decks to the back of the crowd and speakers that were found in every crevice. A sea of extremely diverse, joyful people danced as one to Robotaki’s beat, who set the mood for what was to come later in the night.
Separating the main floor from the bar area, which ran the entire right side of the house, was a tall railing that gave security the ability to stomp out under-age drinking — a truly well-designed space. With the second-floor balcony hanging over the bar, forming an L-shape and encasing the back of the dance floor, the crowd ramped up a notch as Danger took over. His set was deep, dark and pure techno, mimicking his persona that engulfed the crowd.
After about an hour of fire beats, perfectly teeing it up for the headliners, the set wound down to an appreciative crowd that quickly began to murmur once the tour hands made over the stage. The palpable anticipation simmered for all of 10 minutes, just long enough to make the crowd restless as Robinson and Madeon ran out and took over.
Their set was electrifying and visually stimulating, one of Robinson’s calling cards. Present in all aspects of the production process, far past the endless hours honing his sound, his obsession to create the most well-rounded, concert experience is felt at each show. Madeon made his presence known as well, with his unparalleled live-mixing abilities heard throughout the performance.
Masterfully taking the crowd on a roller-coaster journey, they routinely built to heightened crescendos, only to drop the beat setting erratic, dance-filled fires through the crowd. Their meshed chemistry allowed for flawless, synced transitions between each other. Robinson wasn’t trapped on the decks either, he routinely switched between singing and live drumming, as well. Same for Madeon, who’s mixing was complemented by singing and keyboarding during it all.
Lasting until the dead of night, Robinson and Madeon put their stamp on the city. People who traveled for miles were as pleased with the decision to come as the locals who walked. It would have been easy to post up on the couch, but the spectacle these two, highly-talented DJ’s unleashed on all in attendance made every minute of the drive from North Jersey worth it. These truths aren’t just locked on this night, they run throughout all travel, no matter the distance. It’s usually by far the best choice, and if it’s not it most likely will make for one hell of a story.