review by Curt Busch
photos by Dave Lichterman
On a characteristically gray February evening in Seattle, electro enthusiasts and beat-aficionados gathered to groove to two of L.A.’s most imaginative electronic musicians: Daedelus and Nosaj Thing. Joined with future-folk opener Jogger, the “Magical Properties Tour” stopped through Neumo‘s on Wednesday for a night of hard beats and exhausting rhythms that the city will not soon forget.
The weekday crowd filled in slowly suggesting that a more relaxed evening was in store. Fortunately, it did not last. The first few minutes of Jogger‘s set washed over the venue like warm ray of sunshine as if it were inviting the crowd to a beach party. The duo’s guitar-laced atmospherics, submerged bass-driven beats, and soft vocals were an ideal introduction for a night of music that would grow in intensity.
By the time Nosaj Thing was ready to rock, the crowd had doubled in size and eagerly awaited the neck-snapping beats to come. Nosaj, real name Jason Chung, walked on stage with the focus of a conductor and his one-man symphony did not disappoint. Hunched over a laptop and an Akai MPC, he wasted no time in dropping hard percussion-driven beats and tape echo grinds that had the crowd going bonkers. Over his hour long set, Chung barely came up for air as he twisted knobs and layered effects over his glitch-y, dub and Dr. Dre influenced hip-hop breaks. Like all great DJ/producers, he knows the effectiveness in a flash of silence followed by a huge gurgling bass line. Songs off his universally acclaimed 2009 debut album, Drift, made up most of the set, along with a few choice remixes and live improvisation he is known for. His set had the crowd moving in a trance-like stupor, exhibiting the eerie power of his unique sound. Weary legs would find no rest as the remainder of the evening slammed Neumos sound system in full force.
Moments before the clock struck midnight, headliner Daedelus, along with his patented electronic instrument mysteriously known as “the box,” took center stage. In a vanilla-colored sports jacket and a black tie, the L.A. veteran mixed an hour and a half set of non-stop dance and experimental techno at outrageously high BPM. His frenzied set didn’t let up for second as he looped and blended samples, changed tempo and pitch in a seamless fashion. A passionate performer, his hands were moving so fast they nearly blurred as the Neumos dance-floor turned into a techno party you expect to find only in corners of Europe. Occasionally wiping down his face with a towel, Daedelus fed off the crowd’s wild energy, smiling while contorting his body to the hard breaks in his mix. When the music finally stopped, there was no question of a finale. Just minutes later Daedelus came back on-stage and asked the crowd if they wanted “pretty or messy”. He went with pretty, and the only quiet moment of the evening came in the form of a ’70s soul record slowed to syrup-speed. Daedelus grinned, flamboyantly wiped the sweat from his brow, and dropped a wavering dub-step bassline over a double-time tempo. Needless to say, dancing commenced.
The sound was excellent, the drinks were good, and the crowd diverse. Most left in sweat and ringing ears as they exited on a sticky floor, a sure sign of a good concert. The night was a huge success, lending further evidence to the theory that, other than maybe the UK, the Los Angeles beat scene is unbeatable.