“We are all united kids of the world,” belted Jahan Yousaf, as Krewella launched into “United Kids of the World”, a Headhunterz track they featured on. At Boston’s House of Blues, Krewella had a packed house spanning three floors moving as practically one unified being. And unity seems to be a reoccurring theme of the band’s debut album, Get Wet, perhaps introducing many new electronic dance music [EDM] fans to the concept that has long been attributed with the EDM scene: PLUR. Taken seriously by some ravers and mocked by others, PLUR, or the idea of peace, love, unity and respect being shown between concertgoers, isn’t a new one. PLUR has been around since the 1990s, but as EDM has become more mainstream, the philosophy that was once de rigueur is becoming harder to find. But can these Chicago-based indie-and-metal fans-turned EDM stars change that?
When Jahan, her sister Yasmine, and Kris Trindl, known as Rain Man, take the stage, it’s easy to see their non-EDM roots coming out of the woodwork. While the dance scene is traditionally more focused on the audience than the performers, Krewella makes the show entirely about the connection they have with their fans. Where DJs were once practically anonymous, Krewella has quickly established themselves as a group that truly engages the fans, whom they affectionately call their “krew.”
At the forefront of the stage, Jahan and Yasmine almost seem to be more like hardcore vocalists than the indie-pop background they claim. Jahan head bangs and flails like her life depends on it, while Yasmine leaps into the audience and crowd-surfs before a security guard reaches her and brings her back on stage. Trindl is more of a musical anchor for the trio, and appears to hold true to the somewhat hands-off role of producer, despite the fact that all three members of the group mix at their shows.
Even though the Yousaf sisters produce their music along with Trindl, their vocals are what really sets them apart from other artists in the genre. Unlike most EDM acts, Jahan and Yasmine perform the vocals live. This live aspect of their performance made them accessible enough to snag a booking on Good Morning America—a feat practically unheard of for an EDM group. Their GMA performance is impressive on another level as well: after finishing their show in Boston around midnight, they got in their tour bus, drove to Manhattan and performed at 8 am. They played again Friday at 9 pm at Pier 94 in New York, as part of their 55-stop Get Wet Tour.
Although they haven’t quite portrayed peace through their lyrics, Krewella’s earlier tracks are very love—or at least lust—focused. During the House of Blues show, they performed “One Minute” from their Play Hard EP, a song that makes it evident as to why the band’s slogan is “Making you wet…one song at a time.” But stepping away from the music and into the personal sphere of the performers, it becomes instantly clear just how much they care for their fans and the EDM community as a whole. At their concerts, the trio take the time to promote the charity Dance for Paralysis, a group that seeks to increase accessibility to all individuals regardless of their level of mobility. On the band’s blog, Jahan responds to cyber-bullying between fans and Yasmine warns concertgoers of the dangers of drug use at festivals. “I promise that you will have an insane experience, with or without being under the influence[…]We have just lost sight of the reason we became so enamored with the electronic world; the music. Let’s get back to that beautiful moment when we all fell deeply in love with the energy of dance music,” Yasmine writes in her blog post. As more and more venues and festivals are being shut down due to the use of molly at shows, Krewella’s call for fans to return to the music is well timed. If there’s any thing that can save the rapidly expanding EDM scene from self-destruction, it’s remembering that, as Jahan told the crowd Wednesday night, “There is one thing that brought us here tonight, and that is dance music.”