Fucking Spain. Why is it that Europe is so many league’s further ahead of us music wise? With the rise of EDM culture in America, it’s become increasingly important for the pioneers to educate us on the purpose and range of possibility that electronic music contains. “Look at how many people in your country sound like Skrillex” TAI stated in our interview, and he’s right. But, just like the CNTRL tour, SONAR is here to help. No wonder this festival has been going on for almost two decades and had Deadmau5, Richie Hawtin, The Roots and James Murphy as headliners in Spain. On the US SONAR tour, we got a bangin’ lineup of Paul Kalkbrenner, Azari & III, Tiga, Gessaffelstein (unfortunately Gessaffelstein was not at the Boston stop), Nic Fanciulli, Seth Troxler and the headlining act, Die Antwoord. Anything from Trance, techno, Hip-Hop, pure experimental bass music or future funk was fair game at the House of Blues on Sunday. However, the most impressive acts of the night were the group Azari & III and the insane trio Die Antwoord.
Azari & III
As we arrived to the House of Blues, Azari and III had already peaked the crowd’s curiosity with their diverse take on electronic dance music. Having not heard of them before, we immediately made our way up to the front of the stage to see what all the fuss was about. While Dinamo Azari and Alixander III spun on stage, shifting between not 1, not 2 but 4 CDJs, the two vocalists – Fritz Helder and Starving Yet Full – showed off their impressive vocal range and coordinated dance moves. With exceptional style and a driving enthusiasm for performance, the two vocalists took the crowd in the palm of their hands and transitioned seamlessly from one song to the next. While watching, we were in disbelief of the success Azari and III had with live mixing and live vocals. Incorporating live vocals with dance music can prove to be a challenge, and there were times where the mixing of the sound could have been cleaner. However, the overall performance, which incorporated a lot of vocals, was quite impressive. So, if you ever get a chance to check out this Canadian quartet, go for it. The new addition to the Dim Mak roster is a good example of modern electronic dance music.
DJ Hi-tek, Yo-Landi Visser and Ninja, the Afrikaner trio known as Die Antwoord (translated from German meaning “The Answer”) took the stage one by one, dressed head to toe in orange sweat suites with their hoods up. I immediately knew that I was in for quite a show and a number of wardrobe changes and man was I right. The groups show was the most anticipated of the night and Ninja amped up the crowd with an immediate stage dive during the first song. Both Ninja and Yo-Landi exhibited relentless energy and breathe control as they recited their unique fast paced Afrikaner rap narrative while bolting around stage with amazing energy and personality. Their outrageous attitude was contagious as the crowd bounced along to Hi-Teks beast-like music, used their head voices to match Yo-Landi’s high pitched flow and became hypnotized by Ninja’s million mile stare as he jumped all over the rapping spectrum. The answer may not the know the answer to everything, but they know how to present themselves to their fan base and the did not disappoint.
After Die Antwood, the crowd at House of Blues shrunk. I literally mean that the size of the crowd as much as disappeared while there was still 2 hours remaining in the show. But that didn’t stop Nic Fanciulli from tearing up the decks. Nope. After Die Antwoord, Nic Fanciulli approached the CDJs and spun for a super-hyped crowd as any DJ would. Only the techno fans were left. Personally though, what made Fanciulli’s set so much more enjoyable was that everyone finally had some space again to express themselves. He mixed from one tech-house song to techno, even throwing in Burial’s ‘Archangel’. I have to say I had just about as much fun dancing out to the sounds of Nic Fanciulli as I did with Die Antwoord; it was just a lot more spacious.