Night 1 of the Los Angeles tour stops was every bit as awe-inspiring as 'Nurture' (2021) itself.
Words + Photos by Luis (@luis.hoa):
A week ago today, the Los Angeles State Historic Park became a place of warm embrace and heartfelt camaraderie as Porter Robinson rolled through the city for Night 1 of 2 of The Nurture Live Tour. The sold-out occasion continued Porter's ongoing celebration of the masterpiece that is his recent Nurture (Mom + Pop Music) full-length, the likes of which unfolded with improvised edits, exquisite lighting displays, and an ecstatic community ready to open themselves to Robinson's hymns.
Like most artists who undergo a significant change in their sonic direction, Robinson's Worlds (2014) approach was met with a wide curiosity that raised many questions, questions that became irrelevant upon the record's arrival. There was no more high octane pace, dubstep passages, and hard-hitting drops, just pure heart and an intentionality on lyricism. Robinson had found himself and the music world stood to benefit from it. The sonic variety radiating from each passing track became a testament to his prowess and this year's Nurture took it a step further, putting his emotions at the forefront and welcoming audiences to an introspective experience that was approachable on a universal level. More importantly, it was relatable and scrolling through the comment section of any of Robinson's social platforms would indicate that it carries great power. That said, Nurture arrived in good time and The Nurture Live Tour became all the more significant. To witness it ourselves, we drove down to the State Historic Park with great anticipation and have gathered our thoughts after days of reflection.
To start, large scale festivals and events of this magnitude are slowly but surely returning from a period of inactivity, but Goldenvoice have done their part to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all who attend with organized entry lines, vaccination check-ups, mask requirements, and on-site COVID testing for those who've yet to be vaccinated. Shortly after the gates opened, New Jersey's James Ivy took the stage and roamed up and down, allowing for his vocals to soar above the slowly growing crowd. With acoustic guitar to lead the way melodically, the singer, songwriter, producer, and all around talent had an honest showing full of charm and great energy. The Wavedash trio followed suit and gave Los Angeles their first spark of the night with a consistent tracklist of rhythmic drops that allowed very little breathing room. Chaz Bear of Toro Y Moi then lowered the intensity and toned the audience down with tranquilizing chillwave that was met with eyes closed, hands in the air, and bodies swaying left and right. The sun had set, crowds had begun to spread across the entirety of the park, and Toro Y Moi was flowing with every passing track selection. What appeared to be a pattern of one relaxing set followed by a raging one continued as Jai Wolf approached his transparent stand. An astronomic introduction sent chills down the spine and minutes after, the Porter Robinson stablemate shined on. Signature tracks like Moon Rider, Indian Summer, and Starlight were well received and the electrifying imagery supporting the New York-based producer illuminated the thousands. Though shots of each and every opening performance were captured, the unfortunate circumstance of SD Card corruption occurred during the editing phase, leaving hours of shots left unfortunately unseen while we wait to recover them.
As Jai Wolf walked off in high praise, the build-up to a highly anticipated Porter Robinson set began. Lights dimmed after an intermission and crowds rushed towards the stage, paying little mind to the long merch and beer lines to establish a great viewing location for the show. It was time for Porter Robinson and after a cinematic introduction, he arrived front and center and greeted us all with a gracious wave. Nurture was about to live on.
Staying true to the album's structure, Lifelike would be the one to set us on course, though we received a new live version that has been played throughout the tour so far. Black and white image lines swerved throughout the digital screen as Robinson sat playing through the track's graceful piano melodies. He got up and crowds roared, knowing very well that something special came next. Robinson took control of the microphone and effervescently sang through Something Comforting. The track hit the midpoint and took a joyous turn, complemented perfectly by the flashing lights and Nurture tree scenery. For as great as Something Comforting is on headphones, the aura it emits on large scale speakers is truly transcendental. Crowds danced and cheered on along with Robinson, who was filled with notable cheer.
Robinson's microphone sound was pitched to emulate that of the track's varying vocal patterns. Look at the Sky lyrics were chanted and it all became a memorable religious experience just a few tracks in. Whether you're familiar with Robinson's discography or not, you couldn't help but join in on the merriment of the crowd.
Shelter, the landmark Madeon collaborative effort, was expectedly a crowd favorite. The magic in Robinson's performance is that he does more than just play it directly as you'd hear it from the studio version. He reworks and rebirths each passing track with new synth, new Launchpad melodies, and a new tone that showcase the breadth of his artistic complexities. Shelter, Mirror, and the following Sad Machine were the ideal case of this, Sad Machine of which was a high point in the entire performance. Standing idly in front of us all, Robinson held his Launchpad up high and played the opening set of notes to Sad Machine, waiting to see crowd reaction. Surely enough, once that wondrous tone was heard, everyone erupted once more and Robinson proceeded to play the track in a reworked fashion that offered glimpses of it under a different light. Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti-Do. Wind Tempo, and Musician each glowed, paired well with alternating screens as a backdrop. Anime characters (pardon my lack of anime knowledge), scribbled flowers, starry skies, and strobes electrified those lucky to be present. Aside from sitting in glimpses to play the piano melodies and eclectic selection of synth and mixes, Robinson was at peak energy and took helm of the stage. He made it his and opted not to sit behind an expansive setup, but rather evoked the soul embodied within the music.
Mother, a personal favorite, was a loving moment in the set. Prior to performing it, Robinson mentioned that his mother was present, thanking her for her unconditional love and support throughout his life, which is further expanded upon through his endearing lyrics. "I'm on your side for the rest of your life, you'll never be alone, don't you worry my child" echoed throughout the State Park and Robinson's visible smile spoke much about the heart that the track carried. In this same vein, Blossom also expressed a sincere love and Robinson brought his partner Rika Mikuriya on stage to perform the passionate song. These two Nurture standouts further cement why Robinson sonic pivot was needed and deeply felt. This is a musician who's crafting for hisself while pleasing his creative ambitions in ways that leave a mark on the millions willing to engage.
He then harkened back to the wonder of Worlds with Fresh Static Snow, which was transitioned into perfectly through Blossom's piano outro. A sing-along then ensued with Divinity, the likes of which has aged like fine wine. Amy Millan's vocal parts are engraved in the fandom's hearts so it's not a tough ask to ask for their participation, especially with a crowd of over 10,000.
The evening may have been a celebration of Nurture, but Robinson did well by the crowd and played his staples, like Flicker, Sea of Voices, and Language, all of which transitioned from one to the next in alternating paces. Flicker, which is particularly upbeat, was matched by the crowd's gentle shuffling. We stood towards the middle of the crowd at this point and could observe the thousands in high spirits.
Atmosphere is Robinson's middle name and Unfold made sure we knew that. Featuring Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Unfold is as illustrious as a song gets and Robinson's vocal expressions changed as he belted out harmony after harmony. It's a profound track that excels at instilling faith into the listener, and even more so via the live setting.
Though Unfold would've served well as the final track, Robinson had more in store and came right back out with the moving Trying To Feel Alive. It's quite healing and uplifting in his signature fashion, and judging by the united hand waves across the sea of fans, it's evident that it resonates. From here came Get Your Wish, a Nurture standout, and Robinson's pitched down vocals took the spotlight. The lines "But if glory makes you happy, why are you so broken up? hit home and the accompanying lighting effects gave it the heft it needed. There's a bittersweet feeling with sensing the end, but with the gentle chimes of Goodbye To A World to send us off, it makes it all worthwhile. Goodbye To A World wraps up shows in the same way it did Worlds, opening wounds and leaving those privy to its glory breathless. There was no fading silence or digitized vocals towards the end, just Robinson playing through an elegant piano number that was aptly complemented with a firework display. It was a scene to behold that remains unmatched among this writer's recent tour coverage.
For those curious, yes, Nurture is a year-end contender that welcomes multiple listens to fully grasp its depth, but that alone only scratches the surface of what Porter Robinson is truly capable of. Nurture's live rendition is constantly unfolding and improvised with Robinson's artistic sensibilities that revitalize an already astounding composition. Whether it's the Launchpad edits or the crowds chanting in unison amidst spectacular screen imagery, The Nurture Live Tour is a spectacle worth seeing it in the flesh. Events like this are few and far in between and with Robinson going through a 7-year gap in between records, we'd be remiss not to recommend the price of admission for a ticket to this world of endless possibilities. Let loose and allow for Nurture to live through you.
The Nurture Live Tour 2021 continues through mid-November and you can find dates, locations, merch, and tickets HERE. Enjoy an extensive photo gallery of the night's festivities below and experience Nurture for yourself HERE.