Pretty Lights, Eliot Lipp

When: Sat., Nov. 10 2012

PRETTY LIGHTS Derek Vincent Smith calls his electronic brainchild Pretty Lights “electro/hip hop/soul dance music.” His 2012 Illumination Tour boasts a massive set with LED towers suggesting a looming cityscape, but Pretty Lights doesn’t draw its name from this monster light show. Instead, Smith plucked the name from a flyer for a 1966 Pink Floyd show. Amid the psychedelic lettering was the key phrase: “Come and see the pretty lights.” The early Floyd reference is fitting, since like Syd Barrett’s cosmonautic crew, Pretty Lights strives to give the concert goer a totally enthralling experience. Though Smith’s dance-music attack is different from classic rockers like Floyd, the two approaches aren’t poles apart. Smith borrows riffs from Led Zeppelin, Nirvana and Nine Inch Nails, and he seeks to fuse the cutting edge with organic soul. Indeed, break-out track “Finally Moving” samples “Something’s Got a Hold on Me,” pairing the velvety vocals of Etta James with futuristic textures. Consider too that Smith has collaborated with hard-scrabble country legend Dr. Ralph Stanley on an update of “Wayfaring Stranger,” and it’s clear there’s more to Pretty Lights than meets the electronic eye. Inside that cyborg casing beats a soulful heart.

Pat Moran

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