Let’s be honest: electronic music shows are usually nothing to write home about. Occasionally you’ll catch a vibe where everything is firing on all cylinders and the crowd, sound, space, venue and music are all on point. But even then, it is many non-musical factors that are the sum of your experience.
Moderat was, on the other hand, a very impressive performance. That isn’t to say the non-musical factors weren’t on point; they were. It is just that the intriguing soundscape this trio launched out of the sound system was the best part of the night. Not just a part of the night.
Around 1:30 am, in a warehouse near downtown Brooklyn, about 1500 people congregated for a rare performance of Moderat. The Modeselektor / Apparat collaboration project doesn’t do a crazy amount of performances and so this was the first time I was able to see them. As a massive fan of their two LPs, I couldn’t wait until they hit the stage.
After a solid warm-up set of techy, deep house, the music quieted and a dislaimer read “Moderat is a dark show, so please refrain from using flash photography,” or something like that. Cue an introduction that would suit any epic sci-fi introduction montage and the trio blasts in to “A New Error.” The crowd goes apeshit and it is clear I am not the only one who has been waiting to hear this song at a volume much higher than my headphones or studio monitors can allow. I mean, this shit was loud.
Moderat continued to blaze through songs from their two LPs. The experimental, shoegazey techno / garage (or as a colleague of mine quite accurately described as “thinking-man’s techno”) is a sound not too often heard in this environment. It is the sound that is usually reserved for a rainy day, not unlike the one I am writing this review on.
Apparat would sing incredible vocal parts with just the right amount of effects on them. It wasn’t like Kanye doing auto-tune, but like a James Blake performance of sorts. “Rusty Nails” really saw the vocalist strutting his stuff, and the prolonged live versions of these songs made it seem like you were doing much more than just listening to the songs on a mega sound-system.
The band covered nearly all of their bases in the hour and a half set, leaving the crowd exhausted by about 3am. As we filed out of the Brooklyn warehouse, we knew that this is the cream of the electronic crop that’s been (overly) harvested in the past few years.