This weekend marks Justin Blau’s first headlining show in Las Vegas outside of a nightclub, which seems like it couldn’t be true. But it is. And the DJ and producer who was raised here sounds rightfully excited.
“I’ve already done some huge cities on this tour—LA, San Francisco, just came from Seattle—and this is the first time I’ve sold out almost every show on a tour,” says the 27-year-old who spins as 3LAU. “But this is definitely a big one. It’s my first show in my hometown that isn’t in a club. It’s more concert than club, so it’s exciting to be able to give a different perspective of what I do. And it’s the first time anyone under 21 in this city can come to a 3LAU show, and that’s going to be really special.”
His Saturday-night Brooklyn Bowl show marks the culmination of a special time for Blau, who has built a different kind of momentum and energy on the road since the February release of Ultraviolet, his first full-length album. The foundation for the collection of 11 anthemic electronic tracks is a dreamy ’80s pop sound, heavily influenced by M83 and Sigur Rós. The reception to Ultraviolet has been better than he expected.
“I took a pretty big risk with the musical style of the album. It’s definitely different from what I’ve done,” he says. “When you do something new, you kind of expect someone to say they want the old 3LAU back, but I haven’t seen any of that.”
He took his time creating the album, focusing not on what would hype up the club crowd but on the kind of emotional response he wanted to create with his music. Blau considers himself a songwriter first. He has been playing piano since he was a child and also sings and plays guitar.
“I had this musical background before the realm of dance music, and the DJ thing kind of happened by accident, but I’m really thankful for it. I just wanted to make [the album] musical but still play with elements fans are familiar with.”
Some Ultraviolet tracks aren’t made to be performed live, but Blau has recently developed an affinity for remixing his original works, adding new energy and crafting something to move people. It’s the musical version of having one’s cake and eating it, too.
“But it also makes it a little more difficult now for me to make music for clubby purposes, because I think I just want to do it this new way. I guess that’s the beauty of the remix,” he says. “Instead of worrying about making the song how I want, I can always make another version of the song that suits the live setting.”
3LAU with Flash Gang, 530. April 7, 8 p.m., $25-$30. Brooklyn Bowl, 702-862-2695.