An Electro-Funky Friday Night with Manic Focus & His Soulful Sound at First Avenue



Manic Focus concluded his Lost in a Digital World Tour with the performance of a lifetime for his hometown fans. Since the release of his sixth studio album this fall, Manic Focus followed up with promising news of a self-titled tour to showcase his latest project. With the impressive ability to implement elements of soul, funk, and glitchy bass music throughout his tracks, his performance reflected just that and more throughout each track transitioned. The last show of Manic Focus’ Lost in a Digital World Tour was supported by the likes of HAWX, Guggenz, and Daily Bread this past Friday at First Avenue, leaving these opening acts to debut what was about to be the beginning of a grand finale of a tour for Manic Focus.


Hailing from Minnesota, both HAWX and GUGGENZ warmed up the growing crowd of concert attendees with their performances while showcasing their unique style and strategy of tracks being blended, all the while never failing to miss a beat. Hailey Haxton, known under the artist alias, HAWX, is a Minneapolis local DJ who’s set mirrored her beaming talent as she ignited an electrical current that transitioned rightfully so into a performance by Guggenz. Mike Guggenbuehl also known as Guggenz to the electronic music scene, brought forth a soulful electro-funk style of sound defined by his trademark jazz samples, the use of synths and melodies that maintained the rhythm of the night as the crowd continued to get down on the dance floor.


Rhett Whatley who is prominently known to fans of electronic dance music under the moniker, Daily Bread, has been making some major waves in the EDM scene. After constantly hearing about how energetic Daily Bread’s performances were from several friends, all of which live in different states, I truly knew Minneapolis and our music scene was in for a real treat! Needless to say, Daily Bread lived up to his praised reputation for his live performances last Friday as he pumped up the crowd for Manic Focus.


Daily Bread was clearly enjoying the set and dancing almost as much as his fans throughout the performance. His uplifting stage presence and laid back beats captivated the crowd to dance along with him as he continued the first half of his set with funky electro-hip-hop style feels. Rhett seamlessly transitioned over the first half of his set into a beautiful mix of “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac, where it almost felt that time stood still for a few minutes, before effortlessly diving headfirst into more heavy, bass music. I was blown away by how well he was able to begin his set with more chill, electro-funk styled subgenres of EDM before transitioning into the more grimey, bass music as he geared up the crowd for the one and only, Manic Focus.


Just before midnight, John McCarten, known better as the headlining act of the evening, Manic Focus, took the mainstage of First Avenue & 7th St. Entry. With no hesitation, Manic Focus kicked his set off with quite a bang! While performing an impressive selection of enticing tracks, Manic Focus served the crowd with a clear, crisp, and outlandishly loud heavy bass that tickled the eardrums of the crowd. One of McCarten’s honed skills as a performer is his ability to gauge the crowd, keeping concert attendees on their toes throughout his sets, and he did exactly that this past Friday at First Avenue.



A vibrant array of rainbow-colored lasers cascaded over the Mainroom of First Avenue, continuously illuminating the venue with waves of glowing color throughout the remainder of the show. Manic Focus’ guest appearance and right-hand drummer, Jacob Barinholtz, was full of unimaginable energy and tackled his talent on the drums, packing an extra punch that accented Manic Focus’ set perfectly, as they both intensified and enhanced the beats and bass of the music they were performing.


The multi-dimensional duo thrived as they collaborated while diversifying the number of sub-genres of electronic dance music being performed by each artist throughout the night. As we got lost to the rhythm of the Manic Focus’ set, it was safe to say he left us with yet another stellar performance in his home state. All in all, I am grateful to have been able to experience such a spectacular last show of an amazing tour, especially being embraced by all the love that surrounded the dance floor!


Compliments go out to our featured photographer, Melissa Stouvenel! To view more of her work, click here!