By: Corey McComb
The stage is huge, but only two black silhouettes stand in front of a shape shifting video screen. Floodlights wash over the arena as opening lines of the hit song “Runaway (U & I)” are teased through the PA system. Choreographed with all the colors, sounds, and smells of a summer festival, the songs immediately take over the night and morph Sleep Train Amphitheater into a space station dance party.
Remixing fan favorites like “Gold Dust” and sampling The White Stripes “Seven Nation Army” prompts singalongs and a sea of hands that clap in unison. Purple lasers cut through a bath of smoke. Feet are planted on top of every seat while the pit moves and chants barbarically. The 70’s funk curveball “Peanut Butter Jelly” rips the crowd into pandemonium while we watch our frontmen beat on-stage cymbals and dance with holographic sea foxes.
Swedish born Christian Karlsson and Linus Eklow were already in critically acclaimed music groups before they met, but decided to take their talents to the Baltic Sea, and discovered the collaborative chemistry that would become Galantis. Hearing the thousands of voices scream towards the stage, it’s hard to believe this EMD duo released their debut album Pharmacy only 8 months ago.
While Pharmacy is nothing if not an uplifting shot in the arm; it’s performed live where the deeper, darker seeds of the record really bloom. Striped down, the song’s skeletons are crafted from original piano and guitar arrangements that cut through the usual techno busyness. Choosing pure instrumentals as the starting point over looped beats and software is what sets Galantis apart from their peers, and you can hear that decision bleeding emotion and soul through the speakers.
By the time “Smile” is played, the crowd has been pulled up and down repeatedly by sonic string sections, robotic vocal blends, and dangerous soundscapes that take you over a cliff. House music newcomers and festival veterans free fall together into an intergalactic pop rabbit hole. Just as the last song is about to be played, two voices come through the color and fog to remind us, “WE ARE GALANTIS! And San Diego, you are AMAZING!”
Galantis continues on Kaskade’s Automatic tour through the end of the month.