Lost in the Night: DJ Harvey Nails It at Public Works

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Kahley Avalon Emerson

Lost in the Night: DJ Harvey
Public Works
Frida, Nov. 18, 2011

Better than: An army of computer DJs.

"Usually, when I'm on ecstasy, I stumble around trying to find the right music on my computer. But this, this, is exactly what I want to hear right now... right now he's playing exactly what I want to hear." That's what an acquaintance of mine said while enjoying himself immensely during DJ Harvey's set at last Friday's Face party at Public Works (starring Harvey and Mike Simonetti). I can't say if he was just responding to Harvey (his first time), the drug (who knows), or the overall positive ambiance, but from my own perspective, I'll say this much: last Friday's party was easily one of the best I've been to all year.

We arrived at 11:30 p.m. to find Mike Simonetti about halfway through his set. I can't speak for the part I missed, but the Italians Do It Better label boss played the hour we caught perfectly. Instead of trying to steal the spotlight, he warmed up the dancefloor with an easy-to-take combination of classics and new material. Tracks like Benoit & Sergio's "Let Me Count the Ways" and Chicago Damn's "Be Your Man" intermingled effortlessly with older fare like Dan Hartman's "Instant Replay" and Quando Quango's "Love Tempo."

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Kahley Avalon Emerson

Listening to Simonetti's selections I was happy to hear that the sound issues I reported on last week were entirely absent: the volume level was comfortable, there was no digital clipping, and none of the DJs ever left their post to yell at anybody (always a good thing). Also, in sharp contrast to last week's party was an understated visual element: just two motorized spotlights, a disco ball, and a fog machine.

Looking like some kind of pirate troubadour, Harvey walked on stage at 12:30 and took control of the decks to wild applause and screams. Within a minute, the music had completely faded out and the room was thrown into pitch blackness. The crowd cheered loudly, but was immediately steamrolled by a mind-bending, Spinal Tap-worthy '70s rock drum solo that lasted about two minutes. Spotlights shot the room up with rhythmically precise splashes of white, creating moments of strobe in the darkness. Then, slowly but surely, he mixed the beat of the solo into a hard '80s breakbeat -- something that sounded like a mixture of industrial, Italo, and Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five's "Survival (The Message II)." People stood in stunned awe as a collective realization seemed to dawn on the entire room: the night had begun.

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Kahley Avalon Emerson

Harvey's DJ style is something to behold -- he is a master of the art of programming. His set on Friday worked in waves, its intensity ebbing and flowing in direct response to the audience. He never took the crowd into extremely high-energy territory, instead preferring to bring the vibe up with tracks like Mandrill's "Having a Love Attack," 6th Borough Project's "Planets," and Midnight Magic's "Drop Me a Line." He balanced out those moments (and made them count) by dropping the room into valleys of impossibly rare instrumental Italo disco and hypnotic late-night classic house. Midway through his set, he brought the entire night to a peak with Barrington Levy's "Vibes is Right" -- an unlikely selection, but one that had the entire room slow dancing at one in the morning.

This is one of the things you have to appreciate about DJ Harvey: His ability to play the right record at the right time and to communicate with the audience through his music is second to none. And his seemingly endless supply of obscure (but nonetheless amazing) records spans a huge variety of genres.

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Kahley Avalon Emerson

Later on, Harvey delighted the die-hard 3 a.m. crowd with an entire set of disco funk. A lull in the energy of the dancers was met with the rejuvenating spirit of Wood, Brass & Steel's "Funkanova", followed later by the cosmic waves of Rinder & Lewis' "Lust." From here he worked in a few more tracks before peaking his late-night set with a special version of Keep Schtum's "Hang Together." It was a noteworthy moment that saw him flexing his EQ skills. His style was impeccable, using the volume knob and frequency controls to bring the song to near silence before slamming it back for a hugely dramatic effect at the chorus. He did this multiple times throughout the entire song and each time it was met with an enthusiastic "YEAH!" from the floor.

The night finally came to a close around 4 a.m. Cries for an encore were met with Black Harmony's reggae cover of Jean Carne's "Don't Let It Go to Your Head." It was a fitting end to one of the best DJ sets I've heard in my life.

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14 comments
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dj billy
dj billy

Derek Opperman = "It was a fitting end to one of the best DJ sets I've heard in my life."You must make the trek down to LA and check out one of RVs Sarcastic parties.  The tunes just keep coming and coming...  So much fun.Also, be sure to check out the 20th Anniversary of The Gathering Party on Dec 17th.  THAT first party (20 years ago - yikes!) is what inspired me to DJ!  Thanks for the review.  I had a blast as well.

El Dee
El Dee

"hang together" is by Odyssey :)

Djdustyjones
Djdustyjones

I thought this was a good review...having been to a Harvey night at Sugar in Adelaide I can only agree that he has a brilliant ability to pick the right tracks for the mood and has a great personality behind the decks.  Respect.

Funkinanddontknowhow
Funkinanddontknowhow

That would be an edit of ODYSSEY's "Hang Together."

Derek Opperman
Derek Opperman

True, but the version of the edit he has is special and differs from the (rare) Keep Schtum white label pressing. It starts off with the same "Go out and stay out all night" loop that begins Harvey's Black Cock edit of the Dells' "No Way Back."

Kent
Kent

Actually, If you have ever listened to eric duncan & force of nature cd mixed (c.o.m.b.i. japan tour 2008), there's an exact track of the one that Harvey played on last friday, with the same "Go out and stay out all night" loop at the beginning. It could be Eric Duncan who edited the song, who knows?

dj billy
dj billy

Great edit MM!  BTW, do you have a extra copy of the 12" for sale?  Been trying to hunt this one down...  I missed the boat on that one!  Props to Odyssey too!

Michael McKenna
Michael McKenna

Hello all, just to clear it up. We (Keep Schtum) did the edit in '07 pressed it in late '07 /'08. Just had a listen to the COMBI thing, and it is the Keep Schtum edit that  just has the 'go out, stay out' accapella played before it. But let's not forget It's Odyssey playing all the instruments and singing all the lyrics.

Derek Opperman
Derek Opperman

You are correct. That was the version he played. I still think though that the one on the C.O.M.B.I. mix is just a retouched version of Keep Schtum's re-edit (it's the same thing plus the acapella as far as I can tell). Still, you're right, Eric D might have just done the same thing...but what am I going to point to on youtube? I don't think there's a findable youtube clip for "We Gotta Get High Together."

edit: also, if you look on discogs the Keep Schtum edit was pressed in 2008...

Goose
Goose

Killer night

Derek Opperman
Derek Opperman

Thanks Dhblows, that was a very informative review of my review.

Dhblows
Dhblows

This reviewer blows.  Either it's the greatest or it sucks.  Btw the sound wasn't clipping last week.

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