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‘Insane’ production: What to expect from first concert at Allegiant Stadium

Updated June 28, 2021 - 12:46 pm

His voice pops like the fireworks that’ll soundtrack the weekend.

Illenium’s talking — with a palpable enthusiasm that can be felt through a phone line — about a concert truism, that a massive new venue demands a massive new stage show.

The EDM star aims to deliver as much come Saturday, when he’ll be the first artist to perform at Allegiant Stadium.

“It’s insane. It’s quadruple the size we’ve ever done,” Illenium says of the production values for the gig. “We’ve got like 75 lasers. We have flame units throughout the whole stadium — crazy pyro shots and stuff like that.

“I don’t want to give away too much, but we kind of have a special location where I’m going to play the first set, which is different than the last two,” he elaborates. “It’s going to be an evolution of the night. It’s almost like I’m opening for myself.”

Illenium’s show this week will be a one-of-a-kind, one-off “trilogy” concert where he’ll perform a set dedicated to each of his first three albums (“Ashes,” “Awake” and “Ascend”). He originally intended to take a version of the concept on the road last year, playing three nights in various cities with a performance dedicated to each record.

Once the pandemic ended any touring plans, though, Illenium focused on doing one blowout concert in Vegas.

“It’s a really unique show, something I’ve never done before with playing as much as I am,” he says. “There’s like four hours allocated, with just a couple breaks. I really get to go on a whole journey through the past with my music. It’s really special to be able to combine that into a brand new venue.”

The future of future bass

Also new-ish is future bass, an electronic dance music subgenre that came to prominence in the latter half of the previous decade, which Illenium is a leading face of. His discography, while wide-ranging, can generally be described as equally anthemic and emotive, warm-sounding and hot-blooded simultaneously, in many instances.

He explores a variety of moods, from heartache to redemption, but there’s a general sense of uplift buoying it all, dark days continually leading to something brighter.

“The whole reason I make music is that it’s healing for me, it’s healing for my community,” he explains. “It’s deeper than just the surface level to entertain.

“I created my first three albums in the trilogy mindset of the birth of a phoenix and growing and ascending,” he continues. “I’m moving on from that stage in my career, but I felt like a big, massive show was needed to give the proper send-off, the proper end to a chapter and on to the next.”

About that next chapter: It arrives July 16, when Illenium drops his fourth album, “Fallen Embers.”

“I kind of look at ‘Ashes,’ ‘Awake’ and ‘Ascend’ as this birth of a phoenix in this separate world,” he says. “Now, with ‘Fallen Embers,’ I’m looking at that same world but in a different timeline.

“The characters are kind of like going to those locations where that phoenix was present, and they’re finding embers that fell through its journey,” he explains. “The songs on the album are embers, and they’re here to heal from past history and trauma.”

An early standout among the singles released from the album thus far is “Paper Thin,” a song that broods and pulsates at once, featuring former Blink-182/current Angels & Airwaves frontman Tom DeLonge.

“I was working on this demo with a couple of songwriters, and I got into a really cool place,” Illenium explains of the tune’s origins. “And then my management sent it to Tom’s team. I was just like, ‘This is a bucket list, I have no idea if it’s going to work.’ He ended up loving it. He and his engineer re-did the verses and did some guitar work, which was so cool. I was blown away.”

Illenium will turn his focus to performing new cuts like that one soon enough.

But for now, it’s time to celebrate the past as it gives way to the future.

“It’s definitely a trip, running through my set last night, running through my first album — there’s all those songs that I really haven’t played in a long time,” he says. “It’s a way for me to take it in and be grateful. I’ll still play some of these songs here and there, but this is really the moment to let them shine one more time.”

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter and @jbracelin76 on Instagram

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