CounterPoint acts on the quest for perfection

Ott, Tycho, and Big Gigantic speak their craft

From Jimi Hendrix scorching his guitar to Skrillex performing on a rotating stage complete with a hot tub, the festival experience has always been about the live show. Since EDM's meteoric rise to the top of festival bills worldwide, there has been a frantic race to prove who can dazzle crowds with a combination of live technological prowess and consistent musical precision. From April 25-27, CounterPoint brings a plethora of acts to Atlanta's backyard for a three-day frenzy packed with an array of EDM, hip-hop, indie, and various electronic musical stylings — and OutKast. Before making their way to Kingston Downs this weekend, members of featured acts Big Gigantic, Tycho, and Ott checked in to talk about their live influences, dream additions to their performances, and the quest for the ultimate live experience.

Dominic Lalli of Big Gigantic

What live show most impacted the way you approach your performance and how did it influence your live show?

A lot of different stuff has influenced our live show all the way. Whether it was seeing jazz greats in New York or Phish in Colorado or Pretty Lights at Red Rocks. There's also Skrillex and a lot of people we perform with at festivals that we always try to check out to see what they're doing. I really enjoy Flosstradamus, and they're so good live, they absolutely throw down. Pretty Lights has always been very innovate, always bringing out the freshest stuff. Our goal is always to really try to bring a high-energy, super fun show.

What tips or tricks do you have to keep crowds moving during long sets?

Lately I've been trying to keep our set moving along quicker. If you listen to someone who's doing just a DJ set, the beat is always keeping things moving. I've been trying to do that in our live sets as of late and I think it's worked out really well because it keeps the energy moving.

In an ideal world, what would you like to add to your live performance?

We've been doing a pretty extensive light show so we're trying to build on that. At Coachella we brought a whole local marching band with us on Sunday night. Now that we did that once I want to do that at every show. I love doing anything cool, interesting, fun, different. One time we brought out a whole line of saxophones at Bonnaroo and I'd love to incorporate that again.


What live show most impacted the way you approach your live performance and how did it influence your live show?

The Orb, Glastonbury 1993. I'd never seen a show like it at the time. It showed me that I didn't need platform boots and bat makeup to be allowed on a stage.

How does your songwriting and mixing process differ from studio recording and live performances?

The studio recording, songwriting, and mixing are all the same process. It's a long, drawn-out affair, which would be extraordinarily tedious were it not for the pleasure of finishing a piece of music and sending it out into the world. Live performance is more based around setting my gear up in a desert or a forest, setting it, going and hanging on for dear life, all the time hoping it doesn't break down or get rained on for 90 minutes.

What would you like to add to your live performance?

Helicopters, I think. Strippers, explosions, and helicopters. And lasers.

Scott Hansen of Tycho

What live show most impacted the way you approach your performance and how did it influence your live show?

I would go far back to some of the first shows I was playing in Sacramento in 2001 and 2002. We were playing with a friend at this coffee shop which would let us play there at night. Those were the first times I used a projector because the space kind of called for it and that was when I realized the power of having a visual component to echo what's going on with the music. That's where I started out with combining the stuff I was doing visually with graphic design with my music.

What tips do you have to keep crowds moving during extended sets?

We didn't sit down and write these songs and think "we want this to move people in this way." We just create what we want the record to be like and then translate that into the live show. The whole point and beauty of instrumental music is that it allows this space that people can project their own ideas and emotions onto. We try to create this immersive thing that pulls them in. If there's any explicit message it's that we want the outside world to be turned off and we want you pulled into this experience.

In an ideal world, what would you like to see added to your live performance?

It's not about adding anything because that is a trap you can fall into as an instrumental band. There is this never-ending arms race for bigger massive productions, and we try to have this stripped-down, sparse thing that still has that immersive element but at the same time isn't trying to knock you over the head with it. I feel like we have the elements in place — the music, the video, the lightning. I think it's more about honing in on specific elements. We have to use a little more subtlety.