The Crimson White

Pretty Lights to hold benefit show tonight

Sarah Cole

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

He doesn’t remember where he was, or with whom, but as he watched the coverage of the April 27 tornado that ripped through the city of Tuscaloosa, Derek Vincent Smith knew he had to do something to help.

Smith, the artistic power behind the electronic-dubstep sensation Pretty Lights, called upon his friends of Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9) and Big Gigantic, and together they created the benefit show that will take place tonight at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater.

During an interview last week with Phil Hudson of 90.7 The Capstone, Smith said he feels a connection to the city. Playing here through the ranks of his musical career makes Tuscaloosa like a second home. It’s a place of comfort where all of those early memories of his career come flooding in.

Smith has produced music for years now, dropping his first album, “Taking Up Your Precious Time,” back in 2006 under the alias Pretty Lights, a name that, despite popular belief, does not relate to his spectacular light show during live performances.

Instead, his title comes from an old Pink Floyd poster. To Smith, it’s a name that shares the concept behind his music: capturing little moments of beauty in this world.

His music is an eclectic fusion of dynamic beats, funky old school samples, fresh electronic pulses and futuristic synths. It’s a combination of every sound and style all combined into one euphoric din.

Or, more simply put, it’s “electrohiphopsoul,” a self-described genre.

But there’s more to Pretty Lights than just his music. Each performance melds Smith’s distinctive sound with a fluidly electric light show.

“The stage itself is a big visualizer,” said Nikolai Kochurov, a junior majoring in electrical engineering. “What I like best is how the visualizations all flow seamlessly between the rectangular platforms and the stage at the same time; they transition into one another. It’s definitely fun to watch, and it adds to the show’s musical experience.”

While on stage, Smith lets go, allowing the vibrant mass of shining lights to engulf him as he sends the crowd into a massive wave of weaves and sways.

“Everyone is there to have a good time, and everyone’s there for the love of music,” said Atlanta native Ismo Bhatti, who will be traveling three and a half hours to Tuscaloosa just to see Smith perform, the kick-start to his three-day Pretty Lights spree, where he’ll travel back to Atlanta for Pretty Lights’ weekend performance. “It’s hard to describe a show, but essentially, it’s one giant mass of people grooving to the same music.”

Tonight’s show will be an electrifying mix of this new age style. Electro-instrumental-funk groups STS9 and Big Gigantic will take the stage before Pretty Lights’ headlining performance. They may fall under the same genre, but each artist brings their own eminent sound to the mix.

However, there’s more to the concert than just good music. Tonight’s show is a dedication to the City of Tuscaloosa. Five dollars of every ticket sale will be donated to the Tuscaloosa Disaster Relief Fund.

“I feel like this is the first of Derek’s shows where he’s put a lot of big names on the bill,” Bhatti said. “And it’s for a good cause, showing you a lot about him as a person rather than an artist.”

The show is a way for Smith to give back to a community that helped guide him through his career, one that supported him during his early days, shining a bit of light on his road to fame.

Tickets are still available for tonight’s show. Check out or visit the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater online for more information.

Leave a Comment
Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894
Pretty Lights to hold benefit show tonight