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Subtronics dominates Columbus with two sold out nights at KEMBA Live

Evan Smith
Subtronics locking in during his set in Columbus at KEMBA Live.
Subtronics performing at KEMBA Live.

KEMBA Live was left in utter shock and awe this weekend after Subtronics unleashed his Tesseract tour in an incredible two-night performance. 

Hailing from Philadelphia, dubstep veteran Jesse Kardon has been sending waves throughout the music industry with his recent tour celebrating the release of his sophomore album titled “Tesseract.” While Subtronics has been on the rise for several years, his momentum is only growing with his releases that redefine dubstep and his bravery to take his sound beyond what many thought possible. 

While his solo projects represent his detail-oriented style within his sound, his collaborations serve as an extension of his song’s organized chaos. Subtronics has released a handful of bass-filled bangers with dubstep giants such as Excision, Sullivan King, GRiZ and Zeds Dead. However, he’s also had the privilege of working with artists outside of the dubstep genre such as doing remixes for Deadmau5 and Kaskade’s song “Escape”, John Summit’s billboard hit “Where You Are” and the dance classic “Runaway (U & I)” by Galantis, each time delivering his crazy style that complements the established dance genre.

This combination of exciting solo and collaborative releases follows into his “Tesseract” album. Subtronics has captivated audiences through his songs “Amnesia” and “Alien Communication,” contrasting his funky upbeat style with chill bass lines. However, returners such as Grabbitz and Rezz have provided extraordinary performances on their respective tracks “Insidious” and “Black Ice,” highlighting Grabbitz’s beautifully sung lyrics with Rezz’s hypnotic bass that continues to keep audiences coming back for more. 

A few artists have also made their Subtronics debut, with rap artist Kwengface delivering fast-hitting verses on “Paradox Parabola (Slap) (Feat. Kwengface)” and recent billboard climber Hol! who delivered his head-pounding riddim in his track “Mind Pluck.”

An album of this caliber is something truly special and the excitement of the album hitting number three on the top USA Spotify debut albums only intensified the interest in his inevitable tour. 

Before his album officially released, the lineup of the “Tesseract” tour contained a wide variety of up-and-coming talent with the Columbus stop assembling a team of drum and bass artist Skellytn, groovy electronic artist Jon Casey, underground electronic artist Saka, blazing drum and bass star Hedex and dubstep heavy hitter Wooli. Originally scheduled for Feb. 23, the demand for the tour at KEMBA Live sold out the first night, weeks ahead of the show. In response to this, a second night was added on Feb. 25 in replacement of one of the two Kentucky stops. 

But with all of this in mind, did the show live up to the hype and high anticipation by fans?

The progression of openers was perfect, Skellytn’s drum and bass attracting the initial crowd and Jon Casey and Saka playing out their chill tracks paved the way for Hedex and Wooli. Hedex hit the crowd with a disgusting dose of UK drum and bass and his energy was only carried over into Wooli’s stampede of dubstep anthems. 

After the conclusion of Wooli’s set the sold out crowd shouted in excitement for the reveal of Subtronic, still bustling with energy from all of the fantastic openers.

As Subtronics burst on stage the first night, he spent no time getting the crowd riled up, playing his tour intro and hitting everyone with a high dosage of pyro and lasers to complement his first song. Throughout the night, there was a high focus on his more recent songs from the album, lots of VIPs (Variation in production, or edited versions of the DJs songs by the DJ) that surprised the entire audience and the type of energy you expect a sold-out crowd to bring to a show. The mosh pit was going the entire time and Subtronics didn’t hold back from showing Columbus his true self. 

However, Subtronics surprised the crowd with a variation in his setlist the second night. 

That night, there was an apparent difference in the song selection list that Subtronics was using. While the album songs were played out, there was a surprising amount of throwback songs from him, some dating back to as early as 2018. This spotlight on his older selections was complemented by a heavy hit of riddim, causing absolute madness in the mosh pit compared to the previous night. The pit was so much bigger on night two that it expanded all the way from the right side of the floor to the left, engulfing spectators in a whirlwind of fans. 

Each night presented a brilliant take on how an artist can differentiate their act while still keeping their core style. Subtronics was able to show that not every show will be the same and to expect the unexpected. You might catch a regular tour set like the first night or be in for an absolute treat with a surprise throwback set the night after. He truly encapsulates the element of surprise in his shows.

Even though his rampage through Ohio may be over for now, Subtronic’s potential return may be highlighted later in this year’s Lost Lands lineup. Being able to stick to his chaotic sound while still maintaining an astounding level of creativity is truly admirable both inside and outside of his shows and examples how an artist can completely change the landscape of a music genre. Now is the time to join the Cyclops Army and join in on the hype surrounding Subtronics as he continues to take the dubstep industry by storm. 

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