Last Friday night, hundreds of students poured into the Towne Field House for an unforgettable Spring Fling performance by electronic dance music (EDM) group, The White Panda. And, though they’re not as big as Kygo or Skrillex (yet), it’s safe to say that with their high-energy and masterful mash-ups, The White Panda is a group bound to dominate the charts.
With hardly any wiggle room at the Towne Field House, this year’s Spring Fling concert had an unexpectedly great turnout. Students began packing the venue around 8 p.m. for performances by Billy Boiez and DJ Ken3tic, and the numbers only continued to grow throughout the night. Even in the face of Tory Lanez’s last-minute cancellation, which left many students such as myself disgruntled, it was clear by the chaotic and energetic sea of students at the concert that Lanez’s absence did not kill the spirit of the night.
Formed in 2009, The White Panda, a Chicago-based duo is made up of childhood friends – Tom Evans (Procrast) and Dan Griffith (DJ Griffi). Upon discovering that they independently launched EDM careers in college, they decided to collaborate and dropped their first single in 2009. They have currently released five full-length albums which have generated much buzz in the EDM world and have over 30 hit singles on the Hype Machine. Today, they rack up more than 60 million SoundCloud streams and over 25 million YouTube plays and have been praised by Vibe magazine as “mashup murderers.”
Upon witnessing the ways in which The White Panda’s carefully crafted build-ups followed by head-banging bass drops quickly drove the crowd into ecstatic frenzies, it became quite clear to me from the start of their set that their hail as “mashup murderers” was not something to be taken lightly. If anything, it’s more than well-deserved – it’s borderline modest. From their intense light displays that seamlessly synced up with their set to their chest-thumping rhythms, The White Panda transformed our meager athletic facility into a dynamic landscape of blinking strobe lights and dancing bodies. The mesmerizing beam of exploding lights that cut above hundreds of heads contributed to an unparalleled sensory overload that left you feeling like your problems and worries were brushed away with every light sweep. The visual spectacle, however, was not complete without the iconic glow-in-the dark panda masks worn by the DJ duo which, oddly enough, enhanced the visual experience in indescribable ways and will surely become an image many of us will continue to remember.
Besides featuring plenty of eye-candy, The White Panda skillfully knew how to invoke a trance-like state. The walls of the Field House no longer seemed so confining, and the chains of reality that were once weighing you down were slowing disappearing after each song. It was almost as if more and more energy was being poured into the crowd with each bass drop, surging through bodies as they jumped up and down in unison and felt the vibrations of the music from within. And, the best part is, there was something in it for everyone. From the latest hip-hop hits to alternative rock throwbacks, The White Panda harmoniously blended an eclectic array of music genres and tied it all together with their unique electronic undertones. This meant that no matter what you listen to, everyone at the venue could at least recognize one song. Even those who aren’t particular fans of EDM to begin with, like myself, found themselves fist-bumping as they became lost in the music.
So, yeah, it might’ve been hot and sweaty. I might’ve been pushed and shoved around a couple of times here and there. I might’ve been salty that Tory Lanez flaked. And, maybe The White Panda did sound like most EDM artists I’ve listened to. But in that moment, as the lights flashed and my heart pounded into overdrive – I knew I didn’t want to be anywhere else.