Pretty Lights Episodic Review Pt. 1 – New Hampshire Recap

Photo: Steve Stoytchev © Electronic Colorado

Pretty Lights Episodic Festival

2016 is the year of Pretty Lights. Derek Vincent Smith has continuously pushed the boundaries of music composition and live performance, and the first Pretty Lights Live Episodic Festival is no different. The tour consists of five, two-night “episodes” around the nation (with more stops added recently) with opening acts specifically curated by Derek and a band consisting of Brian Coogan, Borahm Lee, Alvin Ford Jr. and Chris Karns. The 5 shows will tell a sequential story about an experiment and are also an experiment in telling a story, with Expanding Perspective as the central theme. Derek describes it in detail as such:

Just before each episode the PL film crew and myself will post a short prelude video that visually explores an idea that will be a theme for the episode


Over the span of each two night concert, the PLLive band will record select live cuts onto a single cassette tape and then make it available after the show


I want people to make & post art about the theme.

Chop up the music from the cassette and make music.

Take photos & make videos at the PLL concerts or anywhere that you might be.

Last year, Telluride CO hosted a Pretty Lights 2 night concert that was the first of its kind. That weekend changed my life. Surrounded by an energetic natural environment with so many people on the same positive frequency and playing live music with the dopest musicians I’ve ever heard… The experience was spiritual.

I have witnessed an incredible story unfold as I’ve watched fans of PL music come together and connect with each other at concerts and online and truly affect and change each other’s lives for the better. It has helped me really recognize the importance of shared experience and even more so, the potential.

The idea behind the Episodic Festival came from thinking about this experience like a story unfolding and how this story might continue.

I’ve had a vision like a story in my head for too long that I haven’t really known how to tell.

It’s almost like the telling and the discovery of the story which must overlap and intertwine and feed back into each other for the plot to twist and be twisted into existence.

And that’s an experience I know I want to share with all of you.


We were fortunate to make it to the first stop in Gilford, New Hampshire, featuring Outlet, Marvel Years, G Jones and Tipper on the first night and Wax Future, Big Wild, Brasstracks and Atmosphere on the second. Each act perfectly set the mood and featured unique live performances which set the mood perfectly for the headlining act. Tipper showcased his profound skill in turntablism, Brasstracks brought the horns and drums out to make the crowd swing, Marvel Years alternated between mixing and shredding on the guitar and Big Wild flew between drum pads and synth keys without missing a beat.

However, the most incredible performances took place between 9 and 11 each night as the Pretty Lights Live band took the stage to tumultuous applause. The music was beautiful, cascading through melodies and captivating the crowd as synths growled and hummed. The first night featured a much more relaxed performance than the second, with a more subdued energy which only made the second night that much more exciting. Song after song, the crowd wore smiling faces and continued to move to the beat, refusing to acknowledge that each song brought the weekend closer to an end. Of course, the Laser Shark (Pretty Lights Lighting Designer) took the production to the next level, featuring glowing LED stands, rapidly changing lights, lasers galore and the perfect visuals to accompany each song. After playing songs such as “I Know the Truth”, “Hot Like Sauce” and “One Day at A Time”, the music came to an end and the crowd erupted in cheers. Derek humbly thanked his fans for making this all possible, and before leaving the stage, reached out and handed a single cassette tape to a fan in the front row.

Don’t miss the next stops on the tour, including Telluride, Chicago and Nashville.