Above: Jordan Speer and Jesse Maida with Krewella sisters Yasmine and Jahan Yousaf
Endless energy, massive bass drops and beautiful lyricists; three things that will surely dominate a conversation between those who have experienced a Krewella performance live. This young trio who calls Chicago home consists of producer Kris Trindl, better known as (The) Rainman, and his two edgy vocalists, sisters Jahan and Yasmine Yousaf. The krew officially formed in 2007 following the addition of younger sister, Yasmine.
This past June the trio released their self produced EP “Play Hard”, successfully debuting at #1 on the Beatport charts. Since the release Krewella has had a full tour schedule, headlining shows, opening for acts such as Diplo and Savoy and earning spots in major festivals such as Electric Zoo. They even found time to play a set at VELDfest, Toronto’s ground breaking EDM festival that invaded Downsview Park this past August.
Our crew arrived in Hess village at 10pm, early enough to check out the venue. The facility itself was rather classy with a large wooden deck outside, candles on the tables, curtains, it was really quite striking. This theme continued as we entered, it felt more like we were underdressed for a dinner date with the Yousaf sisters rather than waiting to rage with them (something neither of us would object to by the way). We were then greeted by the Volv promoters who directed us up a steep set of stairs, which opened into a multi level, long and narrow dance floor. The DJ booth sat high atop the bar at the very front of the room and with Kewella’s history of crowd surfing, we knew this set up could potentially be a problem. Crowd surfing aside, the elevated booth eliminates about eight feet of raging space (because nobody wants to feel like their sitting front row at a movie theatre and then have to deal with neck pain the rest of the week) and also has the threat of diminishing the connection between fans and the performers.
As spectators, we ideally would like to feed off the emotion and energy the performer brings to their gig, see the enjoyment they are getting from the crowd reacting to massive drops or when singing along to the lyrics of a track. This is especially important when it comes to Krewella, whether it’s Jahan whipping her wavy locks, Yasmine with her devilish hand gestures, or Rainman raging to his own beats, it is very clear that besides feeding off the crowd, they feed off the energy of each other, a double dose of energy.
After all of these epiphanies subsided in mere minutes, we were able to catch some of DJ Massacre‘s opening set and to be honest he did not blow us away at first. In his defense the early crowd was not providing much energy for him to feed off of. Once the crowd began coming in waves, Massacre started a forty-minute countdown in anticipation of Krewella’s arrival, thus immediately lifting everyone’s spirits. It was as if Krewella themselves took over the decks. Massacre started to pick up the pace, clearly saving his best for last, giving the crowd just enough foreplay to get them ready for the snarly bass drops Rainman would surely have in store for the us.
As Massacre’s set was near its completion, whispers of Krewella sightings off to the right of the DJ booth began to work their way around the crowd. Minutes later, Rainman, Jahan and Yasmine emerged through the smoke and darkness to a roaring crowd. The trio known for there no sleeves look led by sleeveless queen Yasmine actually entered fully clothed, perhaps to combat the cold climate north of the border. Sure enough this was only the pre-game wardrobe as she unveiled a sick relatively new Drop Dead UK tank filled with one of Krewella’s favorite things, cats.
Krewella kicked off their set with Play Hard, the first song on their EP, a very logical choice as it gets the crowd hyped to do exactly what the title of the track states. This was the start of a magical two-plus hour journey we were about to embark on. As expected the other five songs off the Play Hard EP (Killin’ it, Alive, One Minute, Can’t Control Myself and Feel Me) were mixed in throughout the set. Each Krewella fan expects to hear these songs so they can sing along to the sexual nuances and get sweaty to the erotic-electro beats.
Krewella also played Strobelights, which seemed to be a crowd favourite as well as their vocal edit of Summit by Skrillex and Rise and Fall a collaboration they did with Adventure Club. Both had the crowd in a hypnotic-like trance, with each member of the crowd belting out the incredibly catchy chorus’. Their vocal edit/bootleg of Zedd’s Scorpion Move had everyone off their feet, jumping as high as they possibly could. It was surely one of the most energetic tracks of the night and a personal favorite of ours. They dished out multiple Knife Party songs including their Fire Hive (Fuck on Me Remix) and everyone’s dancing favourite Until They Kick Us Out.
Perhaps the most memorable segment was when Krewella gave the crowd a taste of hip-hop by dropping a Crizzly and AFK remix of Jibbs’ catchy anthem Chain Hang Low and yes everyone still knew the words. This was followed by the classic Netsky remix of Rusko’s Everyday and not much later they unleashed I Can’t Stop, the powerful creation from Flux Pavilion. Some of the more surprising songs that really stick out are Laidback Luke’s new single 1234 featuring Chuckie and Martin Solveig and a funky electro remix of the 1997 smash hit Sex and Candy by Marcy Playground. These were by far the most surprising songs of the night, and took Krewella’s performance to the next level, a level of greatness.
If we had to choose a favourite moment from the set, this would undoubtedly be when they played the fourth song from their EP, Alive. This is their most complete song and it brings out emotions of happiness from everyone. When we hear this tune we close our eyes, sing along and can’t help but smile, it is truly a masterpiece – you can’t help but feel alive.
Ones bravery to drop everything to follow a dream is an action usually confined to modern films these days. The fearless commitment shown by Krewella to reach the level of success they have now achieved is truly inspirational. We were very blessed to have the opportunity to meet these wonderful individuals. It isn’t through the use of words, but through their presence and the happiness they exude from living out their dream that provides a spark needed to dream big and to touch the sky.
Jordan Speer and Jesse Maida – EDM TOR