DJ and producer Gryffin performed for an excited UCSB-student crowd at the Arlington Theatre last Thursday night. With a guest drummer appearance, remixes of recent pop and hip hop hits from BØRNS to Drake, and energy to ignite the half-filled venue, Dan Griffith (moniker Gryffin) put on a performance that had attendees waiting out front hours before doors opened.
Three openers performed before Gryffin came onstage: Prebaked, Keylo, and DJ BJ. All three were local student openers who beat the other 20 applicants who attached their SoundClouds and comments to the online application.
When the openers finished their sets, Gryffin came onstage awash in purple light, wearing a jersey with his monkey on it. He looked out at the sea of ecstatic fans and yelled, “Y’all ready for this?” The crowd’s response suggested they were in fact ready — although they still may have been shocked by the following bass, which shook the whole Arlington.
Gryffin kicked off the show with Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble,” red lighting blanketing the stage and peoples’ faces. Next came a remix of Troye Sivan’s “Youth,” with orange mountains and other visuals floating in the background. The next recognizable solo was The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside,” where Gryffin stepped off the raised platform to stand directly in front of the audience.
During this song, runners and production assistants were ran around handing out boxes of rainbow glow sticks to eager audience members. The crowd screamed with glee at OutKast’s “Ms. Jackson,” and roared again at BØRNS’ “Electric Love” and Drake’s “God’s Plan.” Various shades of pinks, blues, and yellows shined behind the energetic performer.
Throughout his handcrafted, fluid medley of various hits, the crowd never lost interest and Gyffin never dropped the ball energy-wise. Mouthing the words like he was in the lip-syncing Olympics, Gryffin dexterously switched from guitar to piano to synthesizer to electronic drum boards.
This wasn’t a usual Arlington show but rather a reward to UCSB for coming in second place in a competition called the Up & Up Festival, whose mantra is “student won, student run.” Monster energy drinks sponsored the competition.
Every spring and fall semester, the Up & Up Festival, an innovative online contest and series of concerts held at U.S. colleges, puts on six tours a year with top emerging acts. This includes acts (from Logic, Post-Malone, and Fetty Wap) that they think are going nationwide and breaking out. There were 14 colleges that competed this year — UCSB came in second place behind Washington State.
And this year, the artist offered for the contest winner was Gryffin.
Towards the end of his set, Gryffin had a drummer come on stage and play along with him; the room suddenly went from a wild rave-EDM-type energy to an awed calm. The mingling of remix and live musical accompaniment brought about the calm.
The drummer stayed for only two songs, one of them being a remix of Portugal. The Man’s “Feel It Still.” When the drummer exited, Gryffin played “Whole Heart,” a song to which almost every audience member knew the words. Gryffin encouraged the crowd members to make hearts with their hands during the chorus.
The concert culminated in Gryffin’s hit “Feel Good,” where Gryffin, his fans, and the fog machines were turned all the way up. As the song crescendoed, Gryffin jumped into the air and stuck his landing perfectly on the edge of the stage. The crowd wholeheartedly sang the lyrics with him.
Backstage at the Arlington, Griffin, whose biggest hits include his remix of Years & Years’ “Desire,” “Feel Good” with Illenium featuring Daya, and “Whole Heart,” reminisced on his early music. Griffin also thought about where he is now and where he hopes to go next.
Growing up in Los Altos (the South Bay area), Gryffin always dreamed of playing at Coachella and Outside Lands (where he is excited to play this summer). He hopes to perform at Lollapalooza South America as soon as he can.
Before planning to tour globally with his music, Gryffin attended USC and studied electrical engineering. That’s “super nerdy shit,” according to Gryffin. He played in bands in high school and began putting up music on SoundCloud when he was still in college at age 22.
“I didn’t really think much of it, I just thought maybe my friends would dig some of this music. And then blogs started picking it up and I started getting asked by record labels to start remixing some of their artists’ music … Everything really fell into place for me, I’m really grateful for that.”
And by the time Gryffin left the stage, making sure to touch the hands of some lucky audience members in the front row, the crowd at the Arlington was grateful for Gryffin too.