Grandstand review: The Chainsmokers bring the noise to the Grandstand (and surrounding area)

The Chainsmokers sure were loud Thursday night at the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand.

How loud? One inadvertent listener tweeted that he could hear/feel the bass at his house just north of Rosedale Center. Another tweeted that, for the first time during the State Fair she could hear a concert from her home, seven miles away.

And the thing about the guys is that their music — is that the word? — is extremely divisive.

On Thursday night, the duo of Alex Pall (primary knob twiddling, secondary jumping) and Drew Taggart (“vocalist,” primary jumping, secondary knob twiddling) performed what essentially was a 90-minute (almost exactly 90 minutes, in fact), non-stop mix of hip-hop beats, squealing synth noise, samples of other acts’ hooks and portions of their own hits, many with prerecorded vocals.

There’s zero subtlety and little dynamic range to what the Chainsmokers do, it starts at 10 and never lets up. For fans, I suppose that’s just what they came for, but for others it’s like getting stuck in a traffic jam for 90 minutes with a car full of teething, screaming babies.

Their stage was a raised platform with a small runway and two mixing boards tucked away in the rear. The front of the platform and the large screen behind them blared flashing graphics every bit as chaotic as the noise the pair made. Pall spent much of the show pushing buttons, taking his headphones off and on and pumping his fist in the air. Taggart paced and jumped his way across the platform and very occasionally sang live vocals in his flat, unimpressive voice. (Most of the Chainsmokers’ biggest singles feature guest vocalists.)

They both did a lot of whooping and yelling — the audience was told to jump up and down at least three separate times in the first half hour — but kept the chatter to a minimum. Taggart apologized for not releasing any new music for the last two years and promised/threatened “we’re coming super correct super soon.”

It’s possible that lack of fresh material has led to a decline in the duo’s popularity. They headlined St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center in 2019, but drew a modest 4,400 fans to the Grandstand.

At one point, Taggart announced the Gophers were up 21-17 over the Ohio State Buckeyes and then played Queen’s “We Are the Champions.” Moments later, the Gophers’ lead flipped to 21-23. (Thanks, Chainsmokers!)

Oh, they also continually gave shout-outs to Minneapolis, blissfully unaware they were not, indeed, in Minneapolis.

The sonic sludge they produced featured hooks stolen from (among many others) Linkin Park, the White Stripes, ABBA, Kings of Leon, the Killers, Sister Sledge, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Isley Brothers mixed between bite-size portions of their hits “Paris,” “Something Just Like This,” “Everybody Hates Me” and the inevitable “Closer.”

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