On an unseasonably warm Wednesday October 15th, Tropical House invaded Cambridge when Norway’s Kygo and Australia’s Thomas Jack took the stage at the Sinclair. The DJs, pioneers of the dynamic subgenre of Deep House that has been dubbed “Tropical House,” arrived in Boston with the intent of keeping summer alive for as long as possible via one of the last stops on Kygo’s Endless Summer tour.
In the past year or so both Kygo and Thomas Jack have risen from the ranks of mere SoundCloud DJs to high demand stars of the genre. This is especially true of Kygo (real name Kyree Gørvell-Dahll), whose near-meteoric rise to mainstream popularity is highlighted by over 100 million plays on his SoundCloud (and counting), a personal request by Chris Martin to remix Coldplay’s
second single from their new album, “Midnight” and, perhaps most impressive of all, his last-minute replacing of Avicii on the main stage of TomorrowWorld following the big-name DJ’s announcement that he could not perform due to health concerns. Oh yeah—he’s also casually signed to Sony Music as of July 2014.
And while Jack’s accomplishments seemingly pale in comparison to Kygo’s, there’s no denying the 20 year-old Australian’s innovative style, which has garnered him viral success several times in his blossoming career; he’s already hit the top spot on Hype Machine five times. It’s no wonder tickets for their show at the Sinclair were being resold on StubHub for at least $120—a full hundred dollars more than the original price when tickets were released in August.
While Tropical House is most popular in Europe, the DJs’ Internet following was enough to draw a completely packed crowd to the Sinclair on Wednesday night. The population in attendance was largely comprised of Boston twenty-somethings, ranging from college-aged to questionably thirty-something. Regardless of the amount of time they’d spent on Earth, many were Hawaiian shirt-clad and all were prepared to let the shimmering sounds of summer wash over them one last time before that Boston winter hits like a barreling bull.
Thomas Jack was first to grace the comfortable venue. His set can be described as a culmination of the overwhelmingly pleasant sounds of tropical birds chirping, waves lapping unto themselves, various woodwinds dancing to the thump-thump of the Deep House backdrop and sexy sax—oh, the sexy sax. Jack’s calling card is an inventive combination of tropical instrumentation and whatever flashes through his mind during the live set. Highlights of his set included the scintillating remix of the classic Israel
An incredibly involved performer, especially for a DJ, Thomas Jack never once hesitated to interact with his adoring audience; after a fan threw Jack his hat, he gestured his thanks, only to find the hat broken. He returned the hat to the fan and, once it was fixed, it adorned Jack’s head for almost two songs. The fan could have easily had lice or some rare degenerative hair disease, but Jack disregarded these possibilities and wore that fan’s Nantucket-red hat with pride. Jack was also refreshingly humble, responding to the audience’s booming chants of “THOMAS JACK! THOMAS JACK!” after his set with a visibly thankful smile and an aura of modesty that would be impossible to fake.
After Thomas Jack’s set was over, Kygo entered to deliver an aural flood of never-ending summer vibes. Needless to say, the blossoming EDM star lived up to all the hype and then some. While I was of the mindset that Kygo’s live performance would precede him, I was wonderfully mistaken. Not only did he perform his massively popular remixes, including but not limited to Seinabo Sey’s “Younger,” and Syn Cole’s “Miami 82,” he also incorporated popular songs by other Tropical House DJs into his
performance. These included the Mozambo remix of St. Germain’s “So Flute,” as well as the Gamper & Dadoni Remix of “Bulletproof.” Whether this was a purposeful plug of other acts in order to promote the genre as a whole or simply a way to fill time, Kygo’s integration of these songs made for an electric, non-stop party.
The live show itself was much more interactive than I would have expected of a DJ playing a small club. During the remix of Ed Sheeran’s “I See Fire,” as well as a couple of other select mixes, confetti rained from the ceiling onto the scores of exuberant fans of Tropical House or “Trop-heads” (which is a term I coined in this sentence). In addition to the confetti drops there was an ever-changing LED screen behind Kygo that projected tropical scenes, which were meant to complement the feel-good summery vibes of the music. He ended his set with an unreleased new track that is sure to keep fans’ dreams of summer alive and flourishing during the coming cold months.
While the studio versions of Kygo and Thomas Jack’s songs are characteristically mellow, both talented DJs were able to infuse
more than enough high energy into their live performances to keep the crowd grooving in full force for the duration of the show. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that, on the night of the show, the temperature in the area was twenty degrees above average for this time of year. Perhaps, on the night of Wednesday October 15th, two of Tropical House’s elites conquered all—even Boston weather—to deliver as close to an endless summer as will ever be possible.