Friday Night: Simian Mobile Disco Warms Up a Wet Mezzanine Crowd

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Simian Mobile Disco's DJ set at Mezzanine on Friday
Simian Mobile Disco (DJ Set)
DJ Solar
November 19, 2010
@ Mezzanine 

Better than:
Scoring twice on prom night. With two different people.

There's really nothing quite like the feeling of getting excited to see your favorite electronic act, only to find that it's just playing a DJ set. The bitter taste of disappointment is often all you feel as you force yourself to dance through the performers' sloppy mixing and self-indulgent track selection. However, quite the opposite happened at Mezzanine this rainy Friday night as electro-house production duo Simian Mobile Disco showed that it knows how to rock a party from behind the decks.

Many grumbles and groans were heard in the line to get into Mezzanine as the first cold November rain showed no signs of mercy. But upon entering the venue, we suddenly arrived in an electronic playground of beaming lasers and shiny disco balls, with much needed hard techno beats beckoning us to shed those wet clothes and dance.

As a skilled opener should, DJ Solar quickly packed the dance floor with his distinctive tech-house sounds. He powered through the set, teasing the audience with hits of hard-house as well. As fans arrived, many immediately started getting down. Within the hour, I was surrounded by people moving wildly and waving their arms, begging the music to resonate louder as they danced to its pulses.
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With crowd members letting out "ooh"s as the beats dropped, and lights throbbing to the sound, Simian Mobile Disco took the stage dressed in all black. Those that saw the group's mesmerizing live show about a year ago at Mezzanine might have initially been disappointed that the duo's usual large motherboard was missing (thus making it a DJ set and not a bona fide SMD performance). However, while most DJ sets are a miss, the two Brits behind Simian Mobile Disco showed why their previous two shows here in the past year were both packed.

Exchanging their elaborate mix of analog and digital sound equipment for a single MIDI controller, the pair skillfully manipulated tracks with the careful precision and innovation of their live shows. Hard electro tunes were the theme of the night, with old favorites like "Sleep Deprivation" creeping into their set as the audience became a sea of ecstatic cheers with each recognizable jam.

While Jas Shaw looked up to show the crowd enigmatic smiles from time to time, James Ford kept a low profile, looking like a chemist intent on finding the precise formula to suddenly turn this party into a scene from Eyes Wide Shut. Hips gyrated and teeth grinded harder as they kept adding more to the fervor by mixing in familiar tracks like "It's the Beat," along with the climactic "Hustler."
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Although many wanted more of their original productions, positive vibes reigned throughout the night. And as patrons spilled out into the glistening streets after Simian's two-and-a-half-hour hour set, the initial grumbles of the rain were replaced with whispers of later bedroom activities and the afterhours.

Critic's Notebook

Personal bias: This set just reaffirmed what is going to be playing when I deliver my offspring.

Overheard: "Oh my god, I can't believe I thought this was a cell phone party." "Wow, it's like an adult Blow Up in this bitch!"

Random notebook dump: Letting someone take a photo of your journal because they're obsessed with the fruit bowls on the front of it is a little creepy -- or what I personally call flattering.

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