Three days into Decibel Festival 2015 and it only gets better. I started it off by heading up to the Crocodile for the daily conference which featured Elektron, a hardware company whose gear many an electronic musician use in their setups. Artists John Tejada and Cygnus were on board to chat about how they use the Elektron, and a few examples of how they’ve incorporated the equipment into their own tracks.
Later, as I walked down to the Showbox to catch Rob Hall, Laurel Halo, and Autechre, it dawned on me that it was indeed Friday evening, and the streets were filling up quick with avid music lovers getting ready for the weekend by checking out a few heavyweights in the scene. Rob Hall dropped a digital DJ set of electro and techno keeping the people jacked up and the energy level high. Laurel Halo followed, and she completely owned the place for the hour she pierced our ear drums. She started off the mood a bit ambient, quickly transformed into a slow juddering electro skip, and for the following 45 minutes accosted the audience with a killer 4-to-the-floor beat. Her ear for detail was never more clear during her set, and all the things we love about her own records were keenly represented in the live outing. The energy of the crowd was feeding off what Halo threw out, and her set was by far my favorite performance of the festival up to now.
After an hour, she left the stage, the lights went black, and BOOOOOOM. A bass drop like an errant depth charge filled the room, deafening the air. We all knew this could only mean one thing: Autechre is in the house. Do I even need to describe what happened next? Deafening volumes of scratching bass, polyrhythmic shuddering drums, the sound of a turntable needle hitting a piece of sandpaper — it was all here in Autechre’s set. As I get older and go to more Autechre shows I get increasingly bummed out they can’t play at least one old track from even their first five or six albums. Come on, man, can’t they just dive back and play ONE classic? Would it kill them to do a whacked-out and modern version of Basscadet? After 30 minutes, it sounded just like every other Autechre set I’ve seen in the last 15 years, so I left early and scrambled up to Neumos to check out Recondite.
From the moment Recondite dropped his perfectly composed techno acid funk, he absolutely owned the room. He made all the right choices, dropping the hi-hats here, delivering the acid there — he read the crowd like a master and we were not disappointed. Some of the finest dance music of the past few years has been released by Recondite, and he represented his records during his live set like a true professional.
It’s now 2 in the morning, and my feet and ears are beat to hell. The music has been great, the crowds have been thick, and my ears are ringing. Bring on day four.