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Sunday, May 25, 2008

DEMF Day One: A Maximum of Minimal

posted by on May 25 at 11:12 AM

deepchord_250.JPGIt seems slow starts are becoming a bit of a theme at this year’s festival. Despite not arriving until around 3pm, Hart Plaza was still just beginning to look active, and despite the various artists’ best efforts, the real party vibe didn’t pick up until after sunset (which isn’t unusual, but felt a bit more pronounced).

That’s not to say people weren’t moving. Early on, house heads had the choice between Number 9 and DJ Minx, followed by John Jorg and Mike Grant, and all involved delivered, with Grant’s set complemented by the energetic dancer he had on stage.

It’s hard to get into the more heady acts at a festival like this. Deepchord played on the main stage, and their set was wonderfully dubby and spacious (“cave techno”). On the one hand, it was great to see an act like that on the big stage, not relegated to some stage ghetto. On the other hand, their music deserves time and an opportunity to wash over you, and this wasn’t that. If they could play at 4am as everyone was winding down, that’d be ideal. But of course this is a minor gripe at most. Imperfect space or not, Deepchord lived up to expectations.

The first (surprising) Seattle representation followed Deepchord, with our own Bruno Pronsato taking the stage as half of Half Hawaii. The duo’s live set transitioned the crowd into more dance-oriented fare, away from Deepchord’s dub and playing perfectly into Zip’s wonderfully dynamic set.

More on Day One after the jump.

I missed Joris Voorn because I was standing in line to buy a t-shirt, but all accounts declared him one of the early heroes of the day. But I did not miss Deadmau5, who lived up to the hype of being Beatport’s number one seller last year. While most of yesterday could be summed up as all minimal, all the time, and generally flat, Deadmau5 was, as Sean Horton described him “all kinds of techno at once: minimal, hard, progressive. He’s a prodigy.” Yup, he is, and the crowd responded in kind. A few years back it was James Holden bringing progressive back to the nerds. Now it’s Deadmau5 not only picking up that torch, but burning down the house with it. Some might argue that Alex Under’s set was on par, but in my mind even his amazing set comes a distant second. Ditto for DBX’s live set. Great to watch all the gear in action, but it was still a come-down from Deadmau5.

Moby played a remix of rave classic “Go,” which is all that really needs to be said about his set, which was less diva-centric than the one I saw at SXSW. Stacey Pullen, one of my personal favorites, remains so.

pacoosuna.JPGAfter the festival I took a break before heading to Contakt to recharge my batteries, both literally and figuratively. Contakt was my first M_nus afterparty, and as predicted there was a huge line with hour-long waits. I got lucky by being at the end of the line when they started letting people in through the back door, so my own wait was less than 5 minutes. Inside, instead of the M_nus roster jam session I was expecting, it was instead just a normal party featuring the M_nus all-stars. I missed everyone except Richie Hawtin, who proved he’s still the king of minimal techno, if only because of the crowd response he demands, and Paco Osuna, a guy I’d never heard before, but will never miss again. This was minimal as it should be played, in a dark space with a quick pace. Paco realizes that he’s playing to a dance floor, not a living room, so while I had to take a Hawtin-detour (Richie Hawtin in Detroit is always a treat), it was Paco that got most of my attention and drew out the most sweat.

I closed out the night with a trip to White Castle, which I instantly regretted after the first bite.

Time for day two. More Seattle representation with Lawnchair Generals, and Kenny Larkin, Paco Osuna, and Carl Craig.

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without a doubt a phenomenal demf, though the festival was better than the afterparties, when the reverse is normally true.

joris and konrad black were surprises

deadmau5 was absolutely sick, he needs to come out to seattle. alex smoke was brilliant (as usual) but alex under not so much.

the whole m_nus crew pretty much killed. hawtin finished early enough that you could crawl to the front of vitamin water stage and catch the end of carl craig's set.

and i was really glad i had earplugs any time i walked down to the real detroit stage underground. that shit was loud.

Posted by holz | June 1, 2008 1:48 AM

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