XLR8R’s Decibel Festival showcase @The Baltic Room highlighted young up and coming but totally solid dance acts Shawn Reynaldo, Gulls, Teengirl Fantasy, and Nosaj Thing (filling in for Actress). Those first two acts consist of editor at XLR8R and founder of Portland’s Boomarm Nation respectively - making their music while running a magazine/blog and an experimental EDM label.
Not many people were around during Shawn Reynaldo‘s set, but he didn’t seem to mind. He bounced between remixes while keeping the music cool enough for everyone to chill out on The Baltic Room’s few couches and maybe get a good look at the ceiling installation by Sam Trout, which made up for the otherwise lack of visuals. Of all the venues, The Baltic Room had the most to make up for since there were no screens or projections, just dizzying lights. By the time Gulls came on, people were really starting to move, and he threw down an energetic set. I’d say that although these two didn’t get too much attention, they were responsible for starting the night off on the right foot.
By the time Teengirl Fantasy went on, the schedule was about 30 minutes late - I’m going to call this the Decibel Drift because it happened every night, all building up to Saturday night when you may as well stay up until the late AM hours of Sunday. So by the time they went on, it was around midnight and everyone was more than ready to dance. Heads were bobbing to the in-between music, and when Logan and Nick got up, the room erupted in motion.
I’ve seen Teengirl Fantasy before and, honestly, I would never have described that show as particularly good. But on Friday at the Baltic Room, those guys took over. Nick was drumming with his arms in the air, transferring his energy into the music. Their futuristic synthy dare-I-say-soulful sound was irresistible. I may or may not have spent the whole set dancing instead of paying close attention to the set list, which included a few from 7AM, as well as much of their current album Tracer. Unlike many shows where the songs sound exactly like the albums, theirs didn’t. Instead, they sounded the way live music is supposed to sound, better than the albums - sharper, more interesting, full of energy.
Nosaj Thing’s set required the absolute least equipment of all, over which he stood with a near frown on his face. But just like during his 2010 in-studio, he sounded incredible. Alternating between some of his silkier/shakier ambient noises and more dance focused beats, he made the room move with more than just the bass. Filling in for Actress is a big job, and Nosaj Thing took it in stride.