Why Pretty Lights 2023 Return is More Important than Michael Jordan


Photo: Screengrab via Pretty Lights ‘Soundship Spacesystem Tour’ announcement video

Before you dismiss this title, waving it off as mere hyperbole, allow me to cushion your skepticism with a bit of clarification. By no means, am suggesting that Pretty Lights’ return eclipses the importance of Michael Jordan’s iconic comeback to basketball. In fact, even amid the swirling LeBron debates, MJ remains the undisputed G.O.A.T. in my book. That could change if LeBron nails another championship ring, but let’s bookmark that argument for another time. Intriguingly, parallels between these two masters of their respective crafts might surprise you. Both Michael Jordan and Derek Vincent Smith, better known as Pretty Lights, left their fields at what seemed to be the peak of their powers, leaving us yearning for more. And now, with both of their returns, it’s as though they’ve swooped in just when their respective games needed them the most.

Today, we’re venturing down a less trodden path, a hypnotic fusion of pulsating beats, dazzling lights, and profound music. We’re plunging into the depths of why Pretty Lights’ 2023 resurgence is not just a blip in the radar but a monumental event that we, in the electronic music cosmos, should celebrate with fervor. Now, let me ask you this: Do you remember the first time you stumbled upon Pretty Lights? The moment those hypnotic beats caught your ear, and you found yourself ensnared in a soundscape you just couldn’t let go?

Let me rewind the tape to my college days at UT Knoxville in 2006. Imagine a young, rap aficionado whose ears knew nothing but hip-hop. My music tastes seemed immovable, a fortress against all other genres, until fate intervened on the night of November 8th, 2008. We were gathered at The World Grotto in Knoxville. There I was, perched atop a speaker with my best friends, the stage so close I could almost touch it. Seemingly oblivious to what we were getting ourselves into, we were just happy to be out with our friends. Then it hit me – the smooth rhythm and sounds of ‘Finally Moving’ by Pretty Lights. The way he synthesized his electronic beats with familiar hooks of hip-hop and R&B was like hearing a cosmic call. It felt like Derek had been anointed by the music gods to create tunes that perfectly echoed the rhythm of my soul.

It was the dawn of a new era for my friends and I. We were the privileged ones, the insiders let in on the biggest secret in the world of music. We had discovered Pretty Lights, and we couldn’t wait to tell the world.

In the decade that followed our initial Pretty Lights discovery, my friends and I plunged headfirst into a swirling vortex of his music. Some of found ourselves crisscrossing the country,  following the pulsing lights and hypnotic beats to festivals as grand as Bonnaroo, Rothbury, and Hulaween.

From the electrifying nights at Bonnaroo in 2009, 2011, and 2013, to the unexpected midday soundcheck at Rothbury 2009, each instance was an adrenaline-fueled thrill ride that etched itself into our collective memory.


Photo: Pretty Lights Music

The journey came to a sad end in 2018 when some of us were among the fortunate ones to witness his last live set at Red Rocks, an experience that felt like a bittersweet farewell. Many of us thought a fitting closing chapter to a journey of musical discovery that had spanned a decade, cementing Pretty Lights’ place in our hearts forever.

But now, Derek is back, and his return holds immense significance. It’s not just about his own journey or his music. It’s about the legions of fans who have eagerly awaited this moment, and the countless DJs he’s inspired along the way. Derek’s unique style opened up an entirely new genre, bridging the gap between electronica and hip-hop, and revolutionizing the scene as we know it.

It’s interesting to draw parallels between Derek Vincent Smith and Michael Jordan. Just like MJ’s second act with the bulls, which arguably was even more impactful than his first. Derek’s return promises to be a spectacle. Can Pretty Lights outshine his previous self, captivating us all over again with his sonic magic? Only time will tell. Now, as we gear up for Derek’s spectacular return, the anticipation mirrors the excitement of that November night back in 2008, an echo of a past filled with musical discovery. This time around, though, we’re not the only ones in on the secret. The word is out, and fans worldwide eagerly await to see what Pretty Lights has up his sleeve.

My crew and I are already circling dates to catch him at several stops on this new tour. You can bet we’ll have people in the crowds at Hulaween, the Equinox Music Festival, and the ethereal experience that is “The Caverns.” We hope to see some of you there, sharing in the pulsating beats and the transcendent journey Pretty Lights is known to deliver.

If you haven’t checked his tour dates yet, now’s the time. This is a comeback you won’t want to miss.

Michael Jordan may have redefined basketball with his return, but in the realm of electronic music, Pretty Lights is the game-changer. He gave us not just a new style of music but an entirely new universe of sounds to explore. And just like MJ’s second act, will Derek’s return be even more brilliant than his first innings? The answer to that beats in the heart of the future, and only time will tell.


Previous Post
The Festival Circuit Breeds Breakout Artists. Why Destroy Lonely is On the Top of My List
Next Post
Why Flipturn s Fanbase is Set to Explode This Festival Season