Gramatik draws out a sweaty EDM crowd

All photos by Jennifer McInnis
All photos by Jennifer McInnis

Gramatik was last in Vancouver to play on the #FVDED Stage at 2014’s Contact Winter Music Festival. He did an exclusive interview with Blueprint at the time where he rebuffed the EDM shackle, saying “we don’t want to be called that.” The Vogue Theatre last Saturday night begs to differ. New York transplant by way of Slovenia, Denis Jasarevic, aka Gramatik, performed live to a crowd that even twenty-somethings would think of as young with the all-ages inclusion inviting a swarm of pink baby young’uns to pack the front of the stage.

Sweaty YAMs (young adult males) took off their shirts in synchronized fashion while smoke from vapes and contraband cigarettes added a finishing touch of air pollution to the scene of raving party kids. In Sony’s now internet-infamous email, “Spidey Thought”, a middle-aged television executive sent in a memo his thought that EDM “is the defining music for Millennials.” Certainly for those who are graduating high school or starting university, that is a generalization that works.

gram2But Gramatik is not the average EDM superstar. Since beginning his music career back in 2008, his tracks have always been perceived differently by those listening to them. Online retailer Beatport labelled his hip hop as “chill-out beats.” Gramatik is a taste shape-shifter, and his positive enthusiasm for funk, soul, and jazz is apparent on his work from last year’s LP, The Age of Reason, to “Native Son”, his latest single from the upcoming Epigram EP. Incorporating elements from other genres into hard-style productions with trap and dub makes Gramatik a producer with multi-faceted sides. A pleasant expression of Gramatik’s varied musical tendencies was in his choice to play Haywyre’s cover of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal”.

Performing live for two hours, Gramatik mixed live instruments into his tracks through additional channels, with Russ Liquid breaking out the brass, and his electric guitarist flanking his left. Gramatik kept his tracks as they were and added loops, vocal samples, and stabs for momentous effects.

The energy at a Gramatik show runs on feedback. Everyone assumes the show will be good, where “good” means black-out rowdy, and that assumption creates an atmosphere of expectations that directly influences the evening’s interactions. Getting asked about being on something is de rigueur – like at all the popular EDM shows.

View the full gallery of Gramatik at the Vogue here.