Porter Robinson lights up Navy Pier with his Nurture Tour
Even though I attended Porter Robinson’s Navy Pier stop of his Nurture Tour, I was initially unsure if I should even discuss it; his music sits firmly outside my listening comfort zone. However, I think that it’s important to reflect about what the concert was like. As my latest entry into a series of pieces on Chicago concerts, I’ll give some thoughts as to why I think this concert was worth seeing, even if you’re not into EDM. Below, I’ll discuss the openers, COVID-19 precautions, and the concert itself.
All concerts discussed in this series were held at indoor, small-size or mid-size venues. However, given both the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent events at Astroworld, it’s important to address concert safety in all concert coverage, regardless of venue size. Before attending any concert, small or large, know that your safety is most important, not only overall safety, but especially as it pertains to COVID-19 and crowd crush.
Fresh off of his Second Sky Festival, Porter Robinson’s show at Navy Pier featured very similar COVID-19 restrictions for attendees. To enter, concertgoers needed both a mask and proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test from the last 72 hours; this was checked in line before entry. Inside the venue, there was no re-entry, and masks could be removed only when drinking.
Though different from Tinashe’s concert protocol at House of Blues Chicago, the precautions seemed to be fairly standard protocol. What set this concert apart, however, was the addition of free, on-site COVID-19 testing. For those who didn’t have proof of vaccination or a negative test, you could receive a free COVID-19 test and enter the venue if it was negative.
Speaking of the venue: this wasn’t an outdoor show, rather an indoor show at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall. There weren’t social distancing guidelines, but there was ample space for concertgoers to see and hear the performers and social distance at the edge of the crowd or away from others at their own discretion.
Unfortunately, I only caught the end of James Ivy’s set. He sang onstage with his guitar, with a unique genre-style that mirrored Porter’s own music. While I didn’t get the chance to see his performance in full, I’d definitely like to see James Ivy in concert again.
Jai Wolf played a quick set of mostly originals, though it did include an Ellie Goulding remix. Outside of the remix, these weren’t songs that I recognized, but it resonated with the crowd somewhat. Compared to what was to come next, Jai Wolf scratched the EDM itch that existed in the crowd, but not the genre-melding that Porter Robinson accomplished.
Porter Robinson’s Set
Full disclosure: I really didn’t consume Porter Robinson’s music much before or after the performance, but that made it all the more intriguing in the moment. His concert was EDM, but not squarely so, as Jai Wolf was. Instead, there was a strong, singer/songwriter personality behind the EDM, one that melded so well as the attendees sang the intimate words of the songs back at Porter. It wasn’t my forte in concert coverage, but I could appreciate the music just as well and the sense of community.
One of the most surprising parts of Porter’s performance was his command of the stage. His visual effects were strong in contributing to his aesthetic, his multi-instrumentalism was in full-force, and he connected with a crowd that knew his music inside and out. Between songs, he expressed he’d done around a decade of touring, and it showed through his stage presence. Back to those visual effects: it pains me to not have pictures of the amazing things that happened onstage. Robinson, at a couple points, used the floor as a green screen. Lyrics floated amongst stunning visuals on the screen upstage. For someone who didn’t know the music at all, both the music and the visuals were equally captivating that night.
Also, for Porter to be not only a talented producer, but just-as-talented of a vocalist, keyboardist, DJ, and drum machine operator is tricky. However, he pulled it off with ease, and I think that’s what sets him apart; my own tastes aside the performance aspect of the performance was amazing to experience.
This article is much shorter than one where I’d be familiar with the musician. However, despite not knowing Porter Robinson’s music well, I think this performance was one worth attending. If you missed the concert and want to see an audience recording, check out this YouTube video.
Thanks to JP, Kat, Austin, Nate, and Dave for convincing me to go. I can say now that it was worth it in the end. Thanks to Austin a second time for catching that typo.
P.S. At this concert, I learned that insanely tall people love EDM. It’s mind-boggling to see more than one person over seven feet tall in close proximity to each other (in a great way).
Originally published at https://www.pizzafm.org on November 29, 2021.