The Chainsmokers brings massive new show to San Diego
The World War Joy tour features pyrotechnics, floating stages and a ‘Globe of Death’
Typically, as a band’s popularity skyrockets, so does the production value of its live show, and this is certainly true of New York-based DJ/production duo The Chainsmokers.
But Alex Pall and Drew Taggart’s ascent was so fast that in many ways their performances have always been playing catch-up.
In three short years, the pair went from being discovered by Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak Records to winning a Grammy, going multiplatinum around the world, racking up billions of streams and YouTube views, and signing a multi-year, multi-million dollar Las Vegas residency with Wynn Nightlife.
And although a Chainsmokers live show has always come with plenty of visual bells and whistles, the duo has moved beyond just DJing and formed a live band that also includes drummer and music director Matt McGuire.
And on its current World War Joy tour, The Chainsmokers finally delivers the kind of all-immersive spectacle its envisioned from the beginning.
“Every tour we try to step our game up a bit,” Taggart said from a recent performance in St. Louis, Mo. “We’ve been planning this particular show for eight months, and this time I think we really have it down.”
“When we sat down almost a year ago,” added Pall, “we knew we wanted something aesthetically unique and something that had a bunch of ‘wow-factor’ moments. We were inspired by modern sci-fi films like Blade Runner 2049, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Ex-Machina, so that’s where we pushed-off from. But we also wanted to respect both our dance music and pop audiences, delivering something suitable for both of them.”
Taking its name from the band’s upcoming third studio album – which, despite having six of its 10 tracks already available, won’t be released as a whole until next month – the World War Joy tour shouldn’t have trouble appealing to any facet of The Chainsmokers fan base.
Continuing its tradition of gigantic LED screens and elaborate light shows, the new show ups the ante in a multitude of ways.
Taking a few pages from the KISS playbook, you’ll see levitating stages that put Taggart and Pall in the middle and above the audience throughout the night. There are also way more pyrotechnics: McGuire even performs a solo with his drumsticks ablaze – a not-so-subtle nod to the spark the adopted member has brought to the band’s creative process.
“Matt’s been a huge factor in developing such an elaborate show,” Taggart said. “He’s basically the project manager for the entire thing – both musically and production-wise. And he’s been a key part in helping us take it to the next level.”
“I think he also really ups the sexy-level of the group,” Pall adds with a laugh.
All kidding aside, however, the true centerpiece of the new tour is no laughing matter.
Affectionately called the “Globe of Death,” the 5,000-pound sphere is traditionally used in circus and carnival stunts. Taggert first sings from inside the contraption as it’s suspended over the crowd. And then later, the Urias family, a multi-generational quartet of self-proclaimed daredevils, rides motorcycles inside the confines of its 16-foot diameter.
It’s a lot to take in, but also part of the new concert-going experience that the pop and dance music titans are providing for their fans.
But with such an expansive take on the non-musical side of things this time around, is there room to make it even bigger on the next one?
“We’re always trying to push our shows,” said Pall. “We’re always trying to do something that people wouldn’t come to expect. So, I don’t know about it getting bigger, but we’ll always try to do something smart and unique. We just want people to say, ‘I’m going to a Chainsmokers show and I know I’m going to see some cool s--t.’ We want people to depend on us to have high production values. This is what we do.”
The Chainsmokers w/ 5 Seconds of Summer and Lennon Stella: 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24. Viejas Arena, SDSU. $49; find tickets.