Concert Review: On A Spiritual Level With Alison Wonderland
Written by Parnia Razi on February 11, 2019
Alison Wonderland and Dillon Francis hit Houston’s Revention Center on their Lost My Mind tour, and an interesting yet incredible night unfolded. In the suddenly cold weather on the day of the show, the venue’s power also happened to go out before doors opened. With the unexpected blackout, the venue still got everyone lined up for the show even though they didn’t know if or when it would come back on. Eventually around 9:00pm, as they got word of when the power would come back on, they tweeted updated set times. As the show sold out and the big crowd lined up in the cold, they finally opened the doors and got the show going with bass immediately bumping as Diablo opened.
The crowd was warming up inside as Dillon Francis began his set, and everyone was already dancing. He played a good mix of current jams and many of his most popular songs from his discography, and the crowd was definitely already feeling it. His vibrant, goofy, ‘mombahton,’ vibes were in full swing, making the chilly venue feel like more of a warm house party. Francis has been one of the most popular electronic DJs of the last decade, and has worked with artists from Panic! At the Disco and G-Eazy to Skrillex and Calvin Harris. This was my first time seeing him play, and although a little underwhelmed, I was enjoying the creative, vibrant flow of his set as I got hyped to see Alison Wonderland play next.
Alison Wonderland came on shortly after Dillon, and the crowd went crazy as soon as her first note dropped. She opened with her song “Good Enough,” the intro to her album Awake, and she started the song off by playing her electric cello. Wonderland has a strong musical background and has played the cello for many years, and incorporating this aspect of her musical talent into her electronic DJ sets is incredibly unique and really makes her stand out. It’s quite rare to find an electronic artist who also incorporates live instruments into their sets. She had already taken my breath away with this beautiful intro, but Wonderland didn’t stop here with going outside of the box during her set.
She brought the bass and she went hard to a mix of her old and new songs, and her fans knew every word and beat drop. Her energy and love for her fans was so clear, as she moved around the stage, danced, and held hands with fans in the front row. This energy was contagious as the crowd gathered as close as they could, dancing to her amazing blend of music. From more trap-infused tracks like “Happy Place,” to slower electro-pop jams like “Easy,” and “No,” she ceaselessly transitioned through her diverse setlist, even singing some of her own songs live. Aside from her Coachella set last year, this tour is the first time Wonderland is incorporating her own live vocals into her sets, also something incredibly rare to find among electronic DJs. She gave it up to her fans, thanking them repeatedly for giving her the courage to sing live, and for supporting her music.
I was blown away by every second of her set, and although I’ve seen her play several times over the last few years, this was definitely her most impressive set yet. Not only was her raw musical talent evident through her live instrumental and vocal breaks, but her skill as a DJ and producer shined through some seriously sick remixes. With a flip of “God is a Woman” by Ariana Grande, to a RL Grime’s mashup of Sicko Mode with her song “Here 4 U,” I was amazed by her ability to include so many different genres into her set, and make such brilliant mixes with her own flare added in. The bass vibrated the whole building, and the high energy kept us going to the very last second before she ended her set at 2am. She brought back the cello towards the end of her set, playing a beautiful live version of her song “Awake.” I was really moved by her authenticity, her growth as an artist, and her love for what she does. She ended the set with her and Dillon Francis’ recent release, “Lost My Mind,” and everyone danced to the heavy bass as they closed out a brilliant night.
Overall, I was impressed and glad the venue, Revention Center, kept things going despite the unexpected power outage, and made this incredible show happen. I was also beyond impressed and in awe at Alison Wonderland’s insane set, and in contrast with Dillon’s set before her, it also made me think about some of the gender differences in music. Luckily, we can see the gender gap in music disappearing more every day, but there’s no doubt that female artists often have to work twice as hard and be twice as good to get to the same place as their male counterparts. I notice many male DJs are hyped up and have ‘big’ names, but they actually seem to put little effort and energy into their sets and are rather mediocre, but they make it to the top regardless. On the other hand for women, especially in a genre like EDM, they have to put so much work and energy in, giving their all in every set they play to get to the same place. With this, I was so happy to be supporting and witnessing the success of such a deserving artist, and to be experiencing the beautiful connection and love that emanated from the crowd with Wonderland’s set.