Knife Party Rejuvenates EDM Enthusiasts


Knife Party member Gareth McGrillen takes a moment to talk with the audeince. Despite missing bandmate Rob Swire, McGrillen gave the whole Knife Party experience.

Luther Kuefner, Staff Writer

Electro House duo Knife Party performed to a highly energetic crowd at the Warfield in San Francisco on April 12, a pit stop before playing the Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival in Indio, CA.

The group is made up of DJ’s Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen. However, Swire was absent from the show due to illness, according to his Twitter feed. Nevertheless, a solo McGrillen executed the hour and 45 minute set with high levels of precision and energy, mixing progressive house with touches of dubstep and trap elements.

After an earnest, opening set by San Francisco DJ Gydyr, McGrillen took the helm, and wasted no time in delivering pulsing, driving songs. The set began with “Power Glove,” the first track off of Knife Party’s upcoming EP Haunted House. The Carmina Burana-esque vocals and eerie snarls of syths portended the exciting, unpredictable twists and turns that would unfold throughout the night.

“It’s good to be back!” exclaimed McGrillen as the first drop began, triggering a massive roar from the crowd.

McGrillen periodically expressed his appreciation for the crowd, even performing 15 minutes past his cut-off time. He praised the audience at the expense of a previous show in Las Vegas. “Y’all are better than Vegas, [expletive] Vegas,” McGrillen said.

I was impressed that the dubstep and slow, drudging tracks were kept to a minimum. For the most part, McGrillen kept the party moving, captivating most of the spectators. Tracks like Wolfgang Gartner’s “Anaconda” and Tom Staar’s “African Drop” remix made the set stand out. McGrillen even pulled out Haddaway’s “What Is Love,” weaving the corny dance song into his set successfully.

Knife Party also managed to integrate well-known progressive house tracks like Swedish House Mafia’s “Don’t You Worry Child” and “Save The World” while keeping it fresh and interesting. The chorus’ would unite the audience, while McGrillen proceeded into remixes for each of the songs.

Especially for “Save The World,” which was an actual Knife Party remix, the explosion of bass and simplistic riffs were outstanding. Perhaps it was a nod to their collaborators and now-defunct Swedish House Mafia, who played their last set at the Ultra Music Festival this year in Miami along-side Knife Party.

And just when it seemed the drop would repeat itself, McGrillen cleverly mixed in Sandro Silva and Quintino’s “Epic,” causing an uproar as the songs thundered on.

McGrillen also took the opportunity to drop unreleased tracks, like the brazen, rambunctious “EDM Death Machine.” Utilizing the Knife Party formula, the new track was highly combustive in terms of bass and electronic noise.

Knife Party didn’t need catchy melodies or smash hits to complete their set. The songs thrived on simple, yet intricate syncopation and tribal synth patterns. This seems to follow a trend of relying more on rhythms than catchy hooks, including Dimitiri Vegas and Like Mike’s “Wakanda” and Hard Rock Sofa’s “Rasputin.” The best example from the concert was the “African Drop” remix mentioned before, but McGrillen habitually returned to songs of that nature. The raw, primal sound created by these songs was an interesting new direction.

For the latter half of the set, Knife Party tended to spin slower, painfully heavy songs, like Twinz Beatz’s “Bass Gon’ Drop.” After moving at a relatively high BPM for most of the set, slowing it down just seemed to derail it. McGrillen was about to redeem himself when he began to play Knife Party’s hit “Internet Friends,” but it reverted to a dubstep remix. However, things picked up, and the night ended with Knife Party’s “Bonfire.”

Knife Party played a 15 minute encore including both their hit “Destroy Them With Lasers” and Alice Deejay’s “Better Off Alone.” It was nice that McGrillen chose to play the hit from the 90’s “Better Off Alone,” a song that doesn’t get the respect it deserves. It was a highly energetic show, both for Knife Party and the audience.