written by Nate Manuel
It’s always a pleasure to go to a performance, not knowing what to expect, and be treated to a real show. Not just flashing lights and a big flat-screen, but sets and outfits and dialogue. Flosstradamus’ recent Detroit show had plenty of flashing lights and a huge screen in the back, but it had all those other elements as well.
The duo’s “High Definition Youth” brand plays heavily on a military-industrial style. The stage was filled with barbed wire, radar dishes, and a large prison-like wall with the group perched on top. As Floss took to the stage in camo pants and bulletproof vests, the giant projection screen behind them lit up with tech-y military diagrams and bits of “code” that looked right out of an early 2000’s hacker movie. The HDY Nation (pronounced “hoodie”) logo was plastered all around – from the graphics behind the set, to the giant flags being waved by group member J2K, to the black hoodies being shot into the crowd from a cannon.
From start to finish this was an energetic set. There were times when they would bring the pace down, like playing a nearly full-cut version of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”, but in general kept it on the headbanging side. The two producers showed a deep love for complimentary sample cuts and song mashups. For each transition between tracks there would be multiple vocal snippets thrown in with matching or overlapping lyrics. In particular, a mashup of Flume’s “Never Be Like You”, Jack Ü’s “To Ü” and The Chainsmokers’ “Closer” caught my ear with unexpected fluidity and grace; it didn’t step all over itself despite such heavy hitting source content. Flosstradamus was prepared for this Detroit stop too, pulling out some semi-deep cuts from The White Stripes and DJ Funk, rounding out a performance that touched a long list of genres and moods.
The duo stuck to clear roles onstage. Group member J2K was hyping up and interacting with the crowd, and Autobot held down the gear up top. At times they swapped in for each other, but only very quickly to get a point across. Flosstradamus were insistent in their mission, self described as “Peace, always about peace.” Despite the military getup and aggressive tone of much of their catalogue, they really did display this message of “peace, love, unity, and respect.” They brought out the openers to help – Whethan aimed the hoodie cannon, and Slushii went b2b with Autobot for a few minutes. They spent some time preaching peace to the crowd before playing an encore song and had the whole crowd yell, as a final double-entendre goodbye: “Peace!”