Sub Focus: My five favourite live electronic shows

All this week, UK bass don Sub Focus will be on board as inthemix Guest Editor as we count down to the release of his new album Torus this Friday. In his first feature for us, Sub Focus talks about the live shows that inspired him to develop his own live ‘discs’ set-up. Head back here tomorrow for more from producer and live pro.

My live show is something I’m really excited about from a technical standpoint. We’re doing a lot of new things with it, so it’s been quite an exciting project: there’s some instrumentation with it that’s very new and I had motion sensors created for the show by an American inventor which work on infra-red, basically allowing me to control sounds by moving my hands around. So it’s quite a futuristic way of controlling music.

With the live show, I was inspired by the likes of Daft Punk and Chemical Brothers’ shows. I wanted to take those ideas but make the equipment that I’m performing on more interesting and more visual for the audience, so we’ve also made the lights audio-reactive. During the set, I’ll play things that you can see lighting patterns for happening on the screen in real time. So at times, I’m controlling the sound and the lights simultaneously.

I’ve always wanted to do Future Music Festival and heard really good things about it, I just haven’t been out to Australia in a while because I’ve been focusing on finishing the record. It’s awesome to be able to bring the live show over next year – but in the meantime, here’s my five favourite live electronic shows.


1. Daft Punk

These guys are one of the pioneers of these type of electronic live shows. A lot of people trace back the explosion of EDM in the States to the Alive tour they did in 2006/2007 with the Pyramid setup. Awesome show and I love the way they layered so many of their songs together during the set.

2. Chemical Brothers

I was very influenced by the way these guys approach playing their music live – I even work with some of their live crew now. I especially like the way they get from one song to the next via interludes, which are sometimes like tracks within themselves.

3. Disclosure

Big fan of these guys, they use a nice combination of live played instruments and vocals in their shows whilst avoiding using a live drummer. Some people may disagree with me, but I am kind of anti-live drummers in electronic music, it takes away from the power and precise timing of the drums which is such a cool aspect of dance music for me.

4. Justice

Saw these guys when they played at Coachella in 2012. Really impressive show visually and very well paced. I love the retro look and the lack of colour in sections – whole parts of the show are white, then red. It requires a lot of restraint to do this when a lot of dance live shows are colour / sensory overload.

5. Beardyman

This is a more unusual choice. I know Darren well and am really impressed with his use of tech and especially his new live rig. It allows him to do the voice looping he has become known for but also sample his own voice to create different instruments on the fly. One of the most impressive audio setups in electronic music from a technical standpoint.