‘You’ve Got To Let Go If You Want To Be Free,’ and boy did I let go

Photo%3A+Karissa+Schaefer

Photo: Karissa Schaefer

By Karissa Schaefer, Emerson Los Angeles Bureau Chief

After consistently having Disclosure as a top artist since middle school, I can finally say the dream of seeing the DJ duo in concert has been disclosed and the anticipation was worth the wait.

I jumped at the chance to buy $50 general admission tickets as soon as I saw the listing on Spotify when going to casually play their music one day. Disclosure rarely holds concerts close to me, especially considering the two-year-plus gap in live performances due to COVID. Anyone who knows me could’ve bet that I would’ve gone right as the Boston dates of their “You’ve Got To Let Go If You Want To Be Free” tour were announced. The EVVYs might’ve been the same night, but I had my priorities laid out well in advance.

My friend and I were greeted by a short line outside Roadrunner May 6 right as the doors opened at 7 p.m. The employee checking IDs asked if we were 30 and said he “unfortunately” had to give us the permanent black Xs to mark the spot of underaged guests. Fortunately for us, we were far too excited to dance to some EDM to care even the slightest. 

The venue, which opened just a few months earlier, was the ideal place for the club-like atmosphere of the concert. The blue lights and dance music that played to pregame the opener set the tone for the rest of the night, with a couple already starting to bust it down in the middle of the wide-open but fairly empty floor. 

Photo: Karissa Schaefer

The opener, DJ Boring, came on exactly at 8 p.m. for an hour-long set—and he was far from boring. The couple’s dance party turned into a dance circle with a few other random concert goers, who quite literally got down to the floor and started break dancing. This being only my second EDM concert, the eclectic mix of the crowd and their shenanigans had me wondering if this is what it’s really like to go to a rave or festival. Either way, I was all for it.

[elementor-template id="60935"]

The crowd gradually filled the floor as DJ Boring played through his mixing of original songs, which were all long instrumentals of interesting and hard-hitting beats. The interchanging purple and pink lights narrowing the crowd, along with the Jersey fist-bump-worthy music, made anyone there feel like they were in a space tunnel.

After an unknown yet memorable opener, I anxiously waited 20 minutes for Disclosure to make their entrance. As the lights dimmed and the TV screen projected a black and white moving background that lit up the stage, a recorded narrator spoke briefly about the duo’s return to making venues come alive again after being halted by the pandemic. Their 2020 album ENERGY never got the chance to tour, so half their set list went drew from it and the idea of energy being returned to enjoying live music—and boy was the crowd energetic for sure.

They opened with “White Noise” from their 2013 Settle album, a song I instantly recognized. As I was preparing for the concert while packing up my dorm room just hours before, I was listening to a mix of their songs and I could vividly recall choosing this song first. 

They followed up with “F For You” from the same album, which took me a minute to pick up. It’s another classic, but would’ve been elevated if the Mary J. Blige version played. Next was ENERGY’s “Lavender” featuring Channel Tres—my second time experiencing it live. The background screen played a recording of the singer to go along with the words of the song, which were bright and matching the lights in shades of purple, blue and pink.

Photo: Karissa Schaefer

The crowd—which was huge by now—was an interesting mix of people, and it was entertaining to watch from the middle back . Not rushing to the front allows more room to properly dance at these concerts, which is a must for a big fan who knows every track of the night. 

While we were busy dancing, the varying visuals that go along with the music and lights were stunning to look at. It made me wonder about how fun it would be to create and work the lighting design for a DJ. Plus, there were frequent lasers that felt like they pulled in the crowd to the stage.

The mix of songs Disclosure chose to play was perfect given the many options from their abundant discography. After ENERGY’s notable “Watch Your Step,” the tour’s self-titled single “You’ve Got To Let Go If You Want To Be Free” played, summing up my attitude going into this concert. As their second-to-last, most recent release, the song was still fresh in my mind. It’s definitely a song I’ll have on repeat this summer—alongside the group’s latest single “Waterfall” featuring RAYE, which the crowd jammed out to towards the middle of the set.

Photo: Karissa Schaefer

Prior to “Waterfall” was the unforgettable, feel-good dance song “Douha (Mali Mali)” which just makes anyone want to dance around. I constantly blasted this song in my dorm room, and after knowing it couldn’t properly be played at shows during the midst of the 2020 pandemic, it was a joy to see it finally come alive with a full audience. 

The whole time, I was itching to hear my favorite song of all time, which is probably Disclosure’s most popular: “Latch” featuring Sam Smith. As the second-to-last song of the night, they had us on the edge of our seats, or more accurately, our tippy toes. 

As I got the initial excitement out of the way, I took the time to record the first verse and chorus of the song, the only elongated video I took for the night to commemorate the special moment. Then I took the once in a lifetime opportunity to dance to the song live, which was much more satisfying than playing it on my bedroom Alexa. 

What could’ve been the cherry on top to the night was a special appearance from Smith, who has multiple features on Disclosure songs. All their songs are great, but I won’t take getting to hear “Latch” for granted, considering it tops them all.

The closing song was “Tondo,” which made the room turn into the set of a party. Standing to the back left near a staircase, there was more room to dance full out, in the prime location of everyone close to me joining in. 

As the song dwindled and the guys thanked Boston for a great second show, I escaped before the bulk of the crowd followed. Though very satisfied and high off adrenaline, clutching my $35 dollar concert t-shirt, I was immediately left wanting more—and annoyed because BeReal wouldn’t work in the concert venue. Sometimes after seeing a singer I really like in concert, I’ll take a break from listening to their music. Instead, I immediately grabbed my Airpods to listen to “Tondo” again.

Photo: Karissa Schaefer