Concert Review: Emancipator Plays Concord Music Hall

Concert Review: Emancipator Plays Concord Music Hall

Portland-based electronic producer Emancipator (Doug Appling) recently kicked off his 2018 tour Baralku and played this past weekend in Chicago’s Concord Music Hall. The 25 plus date North American tour will take him and his fellow band mates across the nation stopping in cities like Austin, Nashville, Seattle, Los Angeles and closing out in his hometown of Portland.

Arrived just in time to catch one of his supports Flamingosis who caught my ear instantaneously. The vibes were groovy and funky as he energized the audience for Emancipator Ensemble to take the stage.  The New Jersey-based electronic music producer wrapped his set with some freestyle beatboxing.

It’s always great to see live music, and what really set this show apart from the rest is its inclusion of a live band. When many EDM shows are ruled by smoke, visuals and confetti cannons adding instruments into an EDM show can take it to yet another level.

Touring as Emancipator Ensemble, a four-piece band accompanies his show including live violin played by Ilya Goldberg. The show at the popular music venue was simple yet captivating from sound to sight. The stage and visuals were dominated by soft, delicate hues like purple and pink and the instruments complement the harmonious sounds Emancipator has created over the past decade.

His classically-trained ear shines through his work and influences his approach to electronic music. His set included a couple of my favorite from previous albums ‘Greenland’ (Safe in the Steep Cliffs, 2010) and ‘Dusk to Dawn’ (Dusk to Dawn, 2013) while playing from his recent studio release as well including ‘Time for Space’ (Baralku, 2017). Seeing Emancipator live is one of those shows you walk in, sit back (figuratively, of course) and enjoy the ride.

Baralku marks Emancipator‘s fifth album expanding to his downtempo, ambient hip-hop fused musical repertoire. Think of a cross between Thievery Corporation and Pretty Lights yet his sound is unique to him. In a personal statement, Appling describes music as a journey and how songs are like little time capsules:

Music takes me to places, and each song is a spirit island on which its soul lives infinitely. To release a song is both a death and a birth at the same time. The sounds contained in each song have reached the end of their life process. The once shapeshifting collage of expression has been crystallized into a final form, no longer kinetic. Yet it exists in a state of permanent potential energy, waiting to be accessed in the form of music, just as the memory of a departed soul will always have the power to move us. –Doug Appling (Emancipator)

There’s still time to catch Emancipator Ensemble on their Baralku 2018 Tour, check out the remaining cities below:

Feb. 14 – Birmingham, AL – Workplay
Feb. 15 – Baton Rouge, LA – The Varsity
Feb. 16 – Dallas, TX – Trees
Feb. 17 – Austin, TX – The Mohawk
Feb. 18 – Houston, TX – White Oak Music Hall
Feb. 20 – St. Louis, MO – Old Rock House
Feb. 21 – Nashville, TN – Exit/In
Feb. 22 – Charlotte, NC – Underground
Feb. 23 – Raleigh, NC – Lincoln Theatre
Feb. 24 – Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse
March 15 – San Diego, CA – Music Box
March 16 – Los Angeles, CA – Fonda Theatre
March 17 – San Francisco, CA – Regency Ballroom
March 29 – Vancouver, BC – Venue
March 30 – Seattle, WA – The Showbox
March 31 – Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom




Comically Unique, Rambunctiously Colorful, Musically Crazed [ My Life is a Never Ending Concert ] – Reporting from the Windy City.