The perk of Coachella season in Southern California is that many of the artists play supporting shows surrounding the two-weekend music and arts festival. So those who can’t afford the triple digit price-tag of a Coachella wristband can still have the chance to see their favorite artists.
The following is a concert review of Jai Wolf at one of these one-off shows at The Glass House in Pomona, written by me, but originally published for The Poly Post.
Jai Wolf turned The Glass House concert venue in Pomona into a dance club for the night when he played a sold-out show to a sweaty crowd on Friday.
Girls clad in crop tops and cut-off denim shorts filed in alongside guys in t-shirts and chucks to pack the open dancefloor so tight security was forced to outline walkways through the crowd with tape.
The New York native has been headlining various Southern California venues surrounding his Coachella performances this month.
Jai Wolf, born in Bangladesh as Sajeeb Saha, adopted the moniker to distinguish his new music from his dubstep past. While his remix of Skrillex’s “Ease My Mind” was what brought him notoriety, his music as Jai Wolf adopts the syncopated rhythms of hip-hop paired with the dreamy synths of ‘80s pop that has become popular in the indie scene.
His style of ‘80s-inspired synths is not the only nod to the indie scene trend. Jai Wolf has also collaborated and remixed several indie artists including Kiiara, Melanie Martinez and Kamtin Mohager of The Chain Gang of 1974.
While Saha has been working with fellow up-and-coming artists, his blending of past and present comes through in his live sets as well. He played a remixed version of Outkast’s 2000 hit “Ms. Jackson” mashed-up with current chart-topper The Weeknd. The latter provoked a louder sing-along, which was no surprise considering members of the audience were most likely toddlers when “Ms. Jackson” was in heavy rotation.
Jai Wolf has a knack for incorporating rousing anthems into his sets. The crowd erupted in unison to sing along as he teased a mash-up using The Killer’s “Mr. Brightside.”
The show remained consistently energetic with enthusiastic feedback from the crowd jumping and cheering. But as Jai Wolf dropped his rhythm and blues-tinged ballad “Gravity,” the audience fell silent as if consumed by the same force JMR sings about with the lyrics “How can I resist when a force like this pulls me under?”
Along with singles off his Kindred Spirits EP, such as his production-driven “The World Is Ours” and rhythmic “Like It’s Over,” Jai Wolf put his spin on plenty of recently released hits as well, taking Flume’s throbbing “Never Be Like You” and chopping it with percussive synths.
The electronica producer worked the reverse with “Something Just Like This,” taking The Chainsmokers’ bouncy pop rhythms and smoothing it out with fluid, ethereal synths for a dream-pop feel.
It was obvious the audience couldn’t get enough as they pre-emptively started their encore chant before the DJ even walked off the stage as he briefly paused before transitioning into the aforementioned collaboration “Drive” featuring The Chain Gang of 1974.
Before going into his encore performances, Saha took a moment to bring his manager, Ben Klein, out to be serenaded by the audience in celebration of his birthday.
The fluttering piano introduction of his most recently released single “Starlight” brought the audience back as he asked the crowd to light up the dark venue with their cell phone lights to create a starlit sight of their own.
Jai Wolf closed the show with the first dominating track off his EP, “Indian Summer,” paying tribute to his roots in South Asia incorporating Carnatic- style vocalizations with his lilting production.
Although Jai Wolf concluded his stint in Southern California with his second Coachella show on Sunday, he will continue playing festivals like Lollapalooza and Free Press Summer Fest throughout the summer.
[Feature photo is my own.]