Virtual Self’s UTOPIA Live System: A Digital Dream

Photos by Danica Anne Nuestro


With everything going on in this world we tend to forget to take a step back and think on how music has made a major impact on our generation. We lived and still currently live in an era where music continues to evolve, whether it be brand new sounds, or revisiting and celebrating music from the past. With North Carolina-based producer and DJ Porter Robinson, he makes no hesitation in celebrating an era of music that has heavily influenced his childhood and music career through his newest project: Virtual Self. And with his UTOPIA live system, I felt like I was able to get a breath of nostalgia by hearing songs from my childhood that I haven’t heard in an extremely long time yet were exciting and refreshing to hear, in addition to experiencing a unique and hard-hitting sound that kept me moving all set long.

With Virtual Self’s UTOPIA live system, which is another name for one of his live performances, he celebrates what he calls, the “golden era of trance.” From previous articles and interviews he explains that this golden era came from the early 2000’s. Although this era had such a broad range of electronic music—from happy hardcore, drum and bass, techno, trance and more—Porter is able to celebrate all these different types of sounds completely in his live set with his two producers: technic-Angel and Pathselector.

phase 001: Pathselector

I was able to feel a sense of euphoria and nostalgia through the melodic sounds of trance, house and techno in the first part of the live-system; presented by one of Virtual Self’s producers: Pathselector. I distinctly remember freaking out once I heard the Vincent De Moor Remix of “Ghosts” by Tenth Planet because it was one of the songs I played nonstop on one of the Dance Dance Revolution games, and freaking out once more hearing Virtual Self’s edit of that remix. I also remember every single person in this venue—myself included—screaming with joy once the infamous Kingdom Hearts Theme Song of “Simple and Clean” by Utada Hikaru played and together singing the lyrics in unison. Other notable songs that put me on a feels trip included “Deadline” by Dutch Force and the DJ Taucher Remix of “Ayla” by Ayla.

phase 002: technic-Angel

Virtual Self follows up with the second part of the live-system with producer technic-Angel, and as much as I love the melodic and euphoric sounds of Pathselector, I’m ready to take on the contrasting, intense sounds of drum-and-bass and hardstyle. Excitement fills up the warehouse as soon as the tempo increase was announced, and fans go wild as soon as the unreleased ID starts off the second phase strong! With that being said, I hope this ID is released sooner or later; either as one of the other unknown songs from Virtual Self’s website, or as part of a second EP—one way or another it HAS to be released because it is INSANE to hear. One of my favorites that I’m super glad to have heard in this set was “Nostalgia” by Gammer; and I couldn’t stay still while hearing “Black Widow” by KRTM in addition to “LAB” by RAM, which was featured on one of the Beatmania games.

If It’s Porter’s Favorite, it has to be good, right? YES.

In the beginning of September, Porter made a huge statement on Twitter saying that Raito was becoming his favorite DJ. Being that Raito was one of the supporting acts on this particular tour stop, I made it a mission to come early and see what the buzz was all about. Although I unfortunately did miss parts of his set, I will agree—Raito played an incredible set and I really do wish that people have gotten there earlier to hear it and I wish I was able to see it in its entirety. One of my favorites is actually one of his newer releases, “One Step Beyond.” It really has those old school, warehouse vibes to it that makes me wish I had discovered electronic music early enough to experience a true warehouse rave.

Recommendations Gone Right

Of course I had to also see Danny L Harle, another supporting artist that played right before Virtual Self’s live-system. My friend had actually seen the showing in San Jose the day before the performance at NOS and highly recommended Danny, and I honestly recommend fans to come early as well to see him. Danny surprised the crowd with massive upbeat sounds and performed an amazing set to hype everyone up and keep us moving on our feet. If you’re curious on what his sound is like, one of my favorites from him his Euphoria edit of “ILY2.

If you asked me what Virtual Self’s live tour is like, I would have to say that it’s something you need to experience yourself. From the opening acts to the encore performance at the end, his tour is so unique in so many different levels that it’s different for each and every person that sees this set live. I honestly couldn’t keep still, especially while taking photos, because the entire performance was amazing and kept you moving all night. The stage production and energy is out of this world and is honestly the closest thing you’ll get to going back in time to the early 2000’s and experiencing music from this era. On top of that, seeing Porter Robinson putting his all into his Virtual Self set and enjoying every single moment with this project makes this performance one of the best that I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen him a number of times).

Unfortunately his last North American show as Virtual Self is on October 4 in Dallas, Texas; so I really hope that there’s more to come from Porter with his Virtual Self project. It’s really refreshing getting to celebrate an era of music with so many other people that share the same love for both Porter and this genre of music. And seeing how successful and how happy he is with this project, it would be amazing and exciting to see what other unique sounds he’ll create through technic-Angel and Pathselector.

If you see Virtual Self’s name at any upcoming festival lineups, or if Virtual Self announces another live-system or clubsystem performance (intimate club setting or show without the live stage setup), I HIGHLY recommend you plan your schedules and make it a point to see Virtual Self.

Lastly, I wanted to thank his team for giving myself and Festival Squad the opportunity to witness such an amazing performance. This experience felt like a dream, and it was so great to be able to capture some incredible highlights during these sets and this night overall!

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