PRXZM Shakes Up Bar Fly

PRXZM Minnesota Bar Fly Live Promo Band DJ Fest

After their performance of their track “October”, PRXZM vocalist Emma Maidenberg thanked everyone for coming out, and how fitting it was to play that track as October had just rolled around. The lyrics of the song touch on how changing seasons can reflect on the changes of our lives: “Circles, coming back to you / Just take me, back to the seasons changing”.

While seasons and people may change, one thing was still the same that Thursday night: the crowd at Bar Fly was dressed garishly – adorned in face masks, fishnets and LED gloves – and they were ready to dance.

Bar Fly, the small nightclub space on the street level of the 700 block of Hennepin, directly below (and also owned by the same people as) Skyway Theatre and The Loft, has been making sure it’s the place to be for electronic music every Thursday night.

No matter what, you can walk in there any given Thursday night and expect to be greeted with some form of EDM (a majority of the time, dubstep and its trendy new sibling “riddim”).

So it was a risk, to a certain extent, to bring an electro-pop duo with a live act to play that space on that night. Luckily it was a gamble that paid off.

The spawn of a shared time at Indiana University between producer Nick Ortega and producer/vocalist Emma Maidenberg, PRXZM is like if Phantogram or Purity Ring ditched the dour aesthetic.

Replace the booming, echoing bass with warm, fuzzy synths and saws and you’re on the right track. Tracks like the aforementioned “October” and “Haze” are reflective of time spent in a small college town during sweater weather season.

In the past year, PRXZM has moved from a DJ set with live vocals to a full live setup. Ortega has MIDI pads, drum pads, keyboards, and a few other gadgets beyond my realm of knowledge. Maidenberg has a mic and hardware for looping and warping her vocals live. Both displayed a level of comfort and ease as performers.

Ortega zoned in on his performance, deftly switching from hardware to hardware without breaking a sweat. During vocal breaks, Maidenberg swayed and flowed with assured confidence. The crowd was surprisingly receptive to PRXZM’s sound. I say pleasantly because this a crowd more adjusted to heavy, pounding bass instead of warm, almost bubblegum future pop.

The strongest crowd reactions came from times when Ortega openly displayed affinity for future pop maestro Porter Robinson by splicing his melodies into their own tracks, and during the faster paced cover of CHVRCHES’ “Heaven / Hell” a break from PRXZM’s more relaxed sound that ups the beats per minute and the emotional ante in the lyrics: “Is this Heaven / Or is this Hell / Through a silver screen / You’re saying what you mean / But I can’t tell”.

It’s nice to see a spot in Minneapolis that’s able to highlight up and coming electronic-centric acts that otherwise might struggle to find a space. Here’s hoping we see more acts of PRXZM’s variety come through Bar Fly.

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