A Party from the Back: ODESZA at the Roseland Theater

Vortex Music Magazine

Earlier this month, ODESZA played two headlining shows at Portland’s Roseland Theater. On night two, Vortex observed from the back of the room and watched the party that the music brought. Photos by Kai Hayashi

Fans revel at ODESZA at the Roseland Theater earlier this month—click to see a gallery of photos by Kai HayashiFans revel at ODESZA at the Roseland Theater earlier this month—click to see a gallery of photos by Kai HayashiFor most shows, I have a standard formula: Front row or go home. No matter how long you have to wait in the cold or how tired your legs begin to feel, it’s barricade or nothing. But sometimes, that same old formula gets tired.

On December 4, Seattle electronic duo ODESZA played their second sold-out night at the Roseland. Usually for a show that in demand, I would have arrived hours early, braving the December air for a spot at the front of the line. But this time around, I deliberately arrived 10 minutes after doors.

Without the stress of rushing through a line inside, I took a place at the back of the room, away from the push of the crowd. Neon-colored clothing and glow sticks poured inside. I had free rein of the room. It was a welcome change to not be shoved around.

Through a couple opening sets by Hayden James and Big Wild, the crowd inside grew larger. With every song played, the fans started to move more and more. By the time ODESZA took the stage, the room was packed. What was once empty space had become a swarm of bodies ready to lose all control with the first bass drop by the headliner.

Click to see more photos by Kai Hayashi of ODESZA at the Roseland Theater on December 3, 2015Click to see more photos by Kai Hayashi of ODESZA at the Roseland Theater on December 3, 2015As I stood in the back, stuck between the wall of the soundbooth and a sea of ravers, ODESZA took the stage. The visuals that beckoned them could only be described as spectacular. I’ve seen a lot of shows at the Roseland, but none have come quite to this level. As the Seattle duo lit up the night with their electronic orchestra, aided by trumpet, guitar and plenty of non-computerized instruments, the gargantuan screen behind them illuminated the room with visuals for every note, strobing and moving to the beat.

From my usual spot in the front row, my view would have been just the stage, the band and an odd angle on the production. But from the back of the room, everything fell into view. The stage, the band, a clear view of all the visuals, the pulsing reaction of the jumping fans, some decked in glow sticks or unicorn masks. It was truly how the show was meant to be experienced.

As ODESZA closed the set, I looked out at the crowd. I moved against the wall to see the show from different angles. I listened to the beat and the crowd singing along to every word. I thought about what the show would’ve looked like if I had waited for hours on end to get a spot front and center. And I decided that the back of the room may be my new home.

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