I think perhaps because of the lighter, nearly chilled-out nature of Paper Diamond's Levitate EP, I had managed to convince myself that his show at Cambridge, MA's Middle East Downstairs, too, would be light and chilled out. I sort of welcomed that, as this weekend consists of a mini-marathon of three shows in a row and it seemed wise not to go all out for show #1.
I arrived during opener Michael Menert's set and he definitely set the tone well for Paper Diamond while still representing the differences between their styles (Menert is probably more laid back than Paper Diamond, but even laid back stylings can seem pretty heavy when they're being blasted at a high enough volume). Both artists are on Pretty Lights' label, so it was hard to imagine the lineup not being a good fit (and also an appropriate pre-game for the Pretty Lights show in Boston the night after - though in all honesty, I ended up having way more fun at Paper Diamond; the crowd at Pretty Lights was a lot more frustrating and who books Pretty Lights at a seated venue?).
Paper Diamond himself played a pretty perfect blend of his own tracks and others. I like DJ sets for their insight into where the artist is coming from -- live sets or sets of all-original music can be good, but I think that for this show, I preferred a DJ set, especially because Paper Diamond knew exactly how to choose tracks that you may not necessarily expect and balance them with classics that you could totally see coming but still wanted to hear.
Download: Zeds Dead - 1975
As for the Middle East, if you're a Boston concert-goer, you've almost definitely been there, since they book such a wide variety of medium-sized shows, but if you haven't, I'd recommend checking it out. The downstairs space, where this show was held, is one of my favorite local spaces to see a show. However, I realized I've sort of outgrown the desire to be crushed amongst the bodies of a bunch of sweaty 18-year-olds (what can I say, at the age of 22, perhaps I am an old woman. I'll also include the disclaimer that I'm sure some of the annoying people were my age or older). Once in a while, I can deal with it, but that usually involves a lot of caffeine and alcohol, and with my more relaxed expectations for the evening, I was not quite adequately prepared this time.
Download: Paper Diamond - Can We Go Up
But! I've realized that I can have way more fun at many shows when friends and I just carve out our own space behind the real crowd and dance, with space to move. It's a novel concept, but I like it. Next time you're put off a little by the crowd at a show, try it out. Especially if you're with a good group of people, it's more fun to dance hard this way. (And that's how I had a way more rambunctious time than expected at Paper Diamond!)