Castle In The Sky: Gryffin

Last week, a couple of friends and I put off all of our schoolwork, braved the dreary weather, and went out on a Tuesday night. Why? To catch the Gryffin concert, of course. Gryffin is an enigmatic electronic and dance musician known for popular remixes of songs like Troye Sivan’s “Youth”, and Tove Lo’s “Talking Body,” and for some immensely catchy originals such as “Nobody Compares To You” and “Feel Good.” Last Tuesday, he brought his Castle in the Sky tour to the Rex Theater in Pittsburgh’s South Side Tuesday night, showcasing a mastery of production and mixing, and an artist’s grasp on physical instruments.

Supporting act Ayokay kicked off the night with a fairly conventional high-energy set to get the crowd warmed up. The set, while highly danceable, relied very heavily on famous samples from the pop music landscape. Towards the end of the set, Ayokay mashed up “Summertime Sadness” by Lana Del Rey, “Roses” by the Chainsmokers and “Midnight City” by M83 for a mix that seemed like it was designed to get maximum hands in the air.

Following Ayokay’s warm up, derivatives trader turned DJ Autograf took to the stage. He provided a singificantly more dynamic set by routinely engaging with the audience in between drops. He brought a songwriter’s perspective to dance music that I found compelling — as he played his current single “Sleepless in NYC,” he told us about how, as a DJ, he works twice as hard as he did when he had a day job, about how he loves every minute of it, and about how “Sleepless in NYC” thus represents his new life.

The modern laptop, and the advent of electronic music has made it so easy to make a good song that it can seem like there are enough taleneted DJs to overrun the entire music scene. How does one differentiate oneself? Ayokay leaned especially heavily on the stereotypical turntablist image. Autograf introduced an introspectiveness that is rare in EDM.

Gryffin, whose real name is Dan Griffith, uses a laptop and turntable to lay down a base track, and then performs the most interesting elements of his songs live: on an electric guitar, or a piano, or even a drumset, effortlessly moving from intrument to instrument, often within the space of a single song.

Since his debut in 2014, Gryffin has single-handedly made his mark on the EDM scene. The crowd proved to be a testament to that — I couldn’t find a single person sitting down during his set. Without missing a beat, he went from the piano to the guitar, to the electric drum kit, to the synth and then back to the piano. Watching him effortlessly transitioning between remixes and originals, hard hitting drop heavy songs and anthemic singalongs, I was wowed by his virtuoisity, and I could feel his enthusiasm washing over me and the rest of the crowd.

Gryffin is an incredibly talented producer, adding his own flair to whatever he touches. This Tuesday, I witnessed his equally incredible talents as a performer. Gryffin put on a very difficult to dislike show, with new takes on familiar music, catchy new music, a light show straight out of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the kind of energy that can kept the crowd going all night long.