It was like they had known each other for years. No stilted side hug. No awkward battle for whose arms go high and whose go low. Just a natural, easy hug.
Maybe there was a spark between the two. Or maybe the DJ was practiced at it. After all, Cal Poly was the finishing line for a college concert tour that had taken EDM and electro house duo The Chainsmokers to five other universities — with quick meet-and-greet sessions for approximately 30 people starting the night.
But the illusion of a deeper familiarity was broken with an excited introduction shouted over pounding music.
“Hi! I’m Mary,” a student beamed at DJ Andrew Taggart after receiving the hug. Then she and her friend, who had stolen a similarly warm embrace from DJ Alex Pall, turned quickly to pose for a photo in the upper basketball court in Mott Gym on Wednesday night.
The Chainsmokers, originally from New York, are most well known for their songs “Roses,” “#Selfie,” “New York City” and “Kanye.” They also have roots in remixing popular indie songs.
Below the meet-and-greet hidden only by a thin curtain, a crowd of approximately 800 people was slowly making its way through security to gather in front of the stage. People dressed in summer music festival flair bounced on their heels, working off excitement — and whatever chill was sticking to them from the cold gusts of wind outside.
The night would become a burst of color and sound that reverberated through the building with powerful, deep thrums of bass that likely jostled the late-night gym-goers.
Cheers tore through the gym as Taggart and Pall took the stage, engulfed in red light.
“Y’all ready to turn the fuck up?” Pall shouted to the crowd.
He was met with screams of affirmation, and the duo started to play.
But the gym quickly decided that things had turned up high enough — the sound cut out about 2 minutes into the set.
Taggart and Pall took it with good humor. Pall shrugged out of his denim overshirt and when the sound had been fixed, said with an exhausted voice: “I’m so sick of shit breaking.”
The rest of the night moved fairly seamlessly, with an enthusiastic crowd hanging over the front barricade bobbing along to the beat, while others danced in wide, swirling motions on the sidelines.
Cal Poly was selected to be part of the tour by being one of the first six colleges to hit 800 presale tickets through the crowdfunding application Tilt, which it reached in under two hours, according to a previous Mustang News report.
Having students jockeying for The Chainsmokers’ attention meant, in theory, that the group would go places where they would be most welcome.
“They wanted to go where their friends were, rather than through a normal city,” said Grace Lee, head of media partnerships for Tilt in a previous Mustang News report.
Because of that, Taggart and Pall were able to engage with a crowd in their own way that they knew would be appreciated.
Pall would call out to the crowd before the start of some songs — opening “#Selfie” with: “If you hate this song, put your middle fingers up!” — which was met with a dense flock of people flipping the bird toward the stage.
And Taggart raked in his own cheers by moving around the stage, often hopping up onto the DJ stand and jumping off in time with the bass drop.
That underlying sense of familiarity and genuine appreciation from both on and off the stage continued to thrive throughout the night, with a pounding bass pulse to keep everyone in sync.