Standing among hundreds in the backyard of 6741 Del Playa Drive last Thursday at 11:30 p.m., I could see my thoughts on the faces of everyone around me.
“He isn’t coming.”
Earlier that night, word spread via text message and music blog EasyLoveRecords’ Facebook page that world-renowned electronic music producer Porter Robinson would make a surprise performance in Isla Vista. People fortunate enough to learn the news anxiously crowded around the empty setup for signs of the rumored appearance as the clock ticked closer to midnight.
“A lot of people didn’t even think he was coming on,” Michael Walker, a fourth-year business economics major said. “They thought the people were just messing with them because he is such a big name.”
Despite growing skepticism, EasyLove members assured the audience Robinson would arrive after his opening act at Tiesto’s “College Invasion” tour in the Santa Barbara Bowl. At around 11:45 p.m., the 19 year-old prodigy from North Carolina walked on stage and opened the night with songs from his debut EP “Spitfire” as the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd exploded with energy.
“It was absolutely packed from wall-to-wall,” Walker said. “There were people dancing so hard they were sending shockwaves through the crowd.”
Porter — who has performed at massive venues around the world — looked just as much in his element while mixing hard-hitting beats at the relatively small beachside venue. Every facet of the event added to the night’s surrealism; the shared enthusiasm between Porter and his audience emphasized the electronic producer’s growing legacy in the music industry.
“It was pretty fucking awesome,” Walker said. “It is really cool to see such a high quality DJ come here to play for the fans.”
Porter continued his electrified performance until 1:30 a.m., mashing songs from fellow producers such as Calvin Harris, Afrojack, Avicii and Alesso. Porter finished with a shout-out to the Isla Vista community for its wild vibes throughout his set.
Third-year political science major Will Kornegay said the impromptu performance left a lasting impression.
“It was a sweet party,” Kornegay said. “Honestly it was one of the coolest in my two and a half years here.”
The flash mob-styled event was made possible through the efforts of local EasyLove Records members.
ELR Director of Operations and DJ Dave Tannin said the experience was as memorable for Robinson as it was for local attendees.
“He had the biggest smile on his face,” Tannin, a fourth-year biological psychology major and Sigma Pi fraternity member, said. “He tweeted about it later. You could tell he had an amazing time.”
According to Tannin, the organization formed two years ago to revitalize the community’s music scene.
“We are a group of DJ enthusiasts who all go to UCSB,” Tannin said. “We decided to band up together. Obviously there are a lot of DJs in Isla Vista today and so we wanted to differentiate ourselves and go above and beyond the normal Isla Vista DJ and make an experience.”
The company includes members from a wide-array of backgrounds and majors including fourth-year classics major Alex Lin, fourth-year mechanical engineering major Andrew Harvey, second-year computational economics major Ruthy Lopez and UCSB alumni Austin Hulak and Gene Albert.
The group organized the performance through previous relations with the young producer, Tannin said.
“We’ve been in contact with Porter Robinson,” Tannin said. “We went to his first show ever in Santa Cruz and met his agent. He invited us to the Santa Barbara Bowl and we pitched the idea to him there.”
In addition to last week’s event, E.L.R. is organizing a local electronic music act starting Oct. 27 and continuing on the last Thursday of every month.
“We’re starting the first ever House music only event for College Night at Wildcats,” Tannin said. “It’s going to be the full nine yards; they are redoing the lights and everything.”
For more information on Easy Love Records, visit their website at http://www.easyloverecords.com/ or their Facebook page.