Marian Hill: An Exercise in Minimalism

Vortex Music Magazine

Electronic duo Marian Hill brought together the Crystal Ballroom with minimalist beats and simple stage design

By the time Marian Hill took the stage for their June 8 show, the Crystal Ballroom was absolutely packed. Fans were pressed together on the floor, some against the barricade, others opting for more room in the back.

While some electronic shows opt for big production (LED screens, lasers, strobes), Marian Hill take a more intimate stance, putting the spotlight on their music and matching the minimalist structure of their sound.

Two large white boxes occupied the stage, a simple geometric display that gave an elegance to the design of the set without being over the top or crowded. As the house lights dimmed down, the boxes lit up and two silhouettes appeared inside.

Marian Hill began their set as shadows inside their own backdrop, the opening notes of their massive hit, “Down,” echoing throughout the room. Emerging from their cubic cocoons, Jeremy Lloyd and Samantha Gongol continued their set with the massive crowd already invested in singing and dancing along to every word.

By beginning their set with their most well-known song, the duo captivated early, delivering on what the audience wanted most and letting them settle into a night of pure electronic joy. The crowd let go and fell into the rhythm of the music, their movement being dictated by Lloyd’s signature beats and Gongol’s ethereal vocals.

Midway through the set, the duo broke their setlist of their own songs with a stripped-down cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” As a wave of nostalgia came over the crowd, the entire room began to sing along.

At the front of the room, the white boxes continued to light up the stage, washing the duo in a variety of colorful hues that pulsed to the rhythm of the music. Fans in the front sang along to the words as loud as they could, moving and dancing to the beat in the small amount of room the crowd allowed.

Meanwhile, in the back of the venue, concertgoers used the ballroom floor to their advantage. As Marian Hill provided the beautiful electronic rework as soundtrack, a couple took to the floor for a complex ballroom dance. People around them spread out, giving them room for their twirls, dips and spins. Elsewhere, a man found inspiration in Lloyd’s beats for a different kind of expression, showing off his skills in contemporary dance, twisting his body and moving every muscle in a robotic fashion.

No matter where you looked in the room, Portland fans were drawn in. Whether simply captivated by the colorful lights and performance on stage, inspired by the music for a night of dance, or pouring their heart into singing along with every word, Marian Hill brought together the entire ballroom.

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