Friday, January 2, 2015

My Favorite Shows of 2014

In an effort to wrap up 2014, here is a list of the best shows I've been to this year. Other than the first 3, the rest aren't in any particular order of preference. Looking back, I feel extremely fortunate to be able to compile this personal creme de la creme list. These were my favorites but there have been so many others that i think back fondly on. I hope 2015 has more great music in store for me because I never want for this to stop.

1. Loxy at Reconstrvct (Brooklyn, NY)
I wrote about this show in the past. It was tits! Luckily there is a recording of this set available. Now I didn't think I had to mention this; however, a few people actually surprised me, so now I do. If you choose to check out this set on shitty computer speakers (or in an otherwise inadequate listening manner), you should probably retire from listening to electronic music and just stick to Bieber in the future.
Since the show at reconstvct, Loxy has also played at Elements in Phoenix Landing, which was amazing. It took all I had not to go into complete fan girl mode after the show. 

2. Martyn at Verboten (Brooklyn, NY)
Verboten has been bringing in some serious talent. The club itself is also quite enjoyable. I mean, yes, there are still douches (can't really escape them unless you venture deep into underground or awesomely gay territory); however, the sound system is fantastic, the layout is smart, the staff friendly and respectful, and, again, the lineups are ridiculous.
This here isn't a recording of the particular set I saw but it's one of my favorite Martyn mixes, so enjoy!

3. Sohn at Sinclair (Cambridge, MA)
Sohn... I am gonna start off by saying that I went to this show only because it was the opening show for Together Boston. All of my friends were going, so I went in cracking jokes about how it's going to be this "emo crowd standing around, not dancing, having feels, etc". This has been my experience at James Blake and Moderat in the past. The show started and, no, i didn't turn into the "emo crowd", but I was completely swept away by the music. Sohn manages to create something that is simultaneously tragic and beautiful which in my opinion is basically what life is like. There is tragedy in beauty and beauty in tragedy (or at least there should be).
Sinclair was also the most perfect venue for this show. It was the perfect size to make this performance feel so intimate.

4. DJ EZ at MOMA PS1 (Queens, NY)

In a recent flyer I saw for DJ EZ, his music was described as "old skool/new skool, bass music, underground house". Yep, that's pretty much it. He will take you from one genre to another in a matter of seconds. You find yourself dancing to music you never thought you'd like. He will jump between decades of music, mixing disco into grime and literally blending boundaries between generations.
MOMA PS1 also features the best outdoor sound quality I've ever encountered.

    5. DJ Sprinkles at La Bleury (Montreal, CAN)
    Do I even need to say anything about DJ Sprinkles? I don't think I can possibly say anything that would do justice. I am just gonna say that it's more than music, it's an experience, and a very rare one at that. I deliberately don't want to post links to any sets or tracks because those of you living in Boston have a unique opportunity to understand exactly what I mean on January 15th. Make It New is hosting DJ Sprinkles at Middlesex Lounge on Jab 15th. I highly recommend you make an effort to see this.

    6. Matthew Dear / Daniel Avery / Roman FlΓΌgel at Verboten (Brooklyn, NY)
    Yes, these are 3 separate sets that I morphed into one bullet point. Is it cheating? Maybe, but the reason I did it is because the night was curated in such a beautiful way that to split these three performances would be flat-out evil. One artist perfectly lead up to the next and they complimented each other's styles perfectly. Roman Flugel's set is basically a musical story of robots falling in love. He played until 7 AM and finished his set by putting on Kraftwerk and jumping onto the dance floor with the remaining patrons and staff. Amazing...

    7. Om Unit at Elements (Phoenix Landing, Cambridge, MA)
    Om Unit is probably my most favorite bass music producer at the moment. His tracks are so minimal yet so big. The sound is never overbearing. It always feels like the tip of the iceberg, with an endless depth behind each note. Sometimes I meet people who find bass music to be abrasive. Perhaps they got their introduction with one the popular "chainsaw" producers. I love putting on Om Unit for these people. Their mind is changed immediately. Listening to an Om Unit track is like putting your ear against someone's chest and listening to their heartbeat. It allows you to feel someone's internal rhythm. It's beautiful, and intimate, and forces you to shut up and really listen.

    8. Jacques Greene (Live) at Sinclair (Cambridge, MA)
    It's always interesting to see an artist go from a dj set to a live performance. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I really love how it worked out in Jacque Greene's case. While I enjoy his DJ sets, there is always the inner grunge chick in me that rebels against the r&b and pop aspect ever so present in them. The live show is so different though. It's complex and challenging and viceral in a "soul deconstructed" kinda way. The visual accompaniment was superb - a perfect compliment to the show.

    9. Tiga at Make It New (Middlesex Lounge, Cambridge, MA)
    Oh Tiga... Music aside, in my entire life I don't think I've ever been in the same room with anyone who had as much "presence" as Tiga does. I am fairly certain that anytime anyone talks to him, they are thinking "You are so cool!", the same way Alabama thought about Clarence. Someone called this video "Wes Anderson of music videos". I kinda have to agree with this statement.

    10. Ali Berger (Live) at Sinclair (Cambridge, MA)
    Being one of the lucky ones to live in the same city as Ali, I've been to a fare share of his performances. He manages to do something completely different every time I see him, and he is always the harshest judge of his skill and talent. The set at Sinclair opening for Simian Mobile Disco was particularly memorable for me. There is something about live techno that is just unequivocally awesome. Perhaps for me personally, it's the fact that I find techno to be more of an intellectual vs an emotional genre. Ali set that night was a treat for the mind as much as for the ears.
    I have no idea if I will ever see something similar to this particular performance since, again, every one of his sets is very different from the rest, but I am looking forward to whatever comes next.