With all of the hype around production-heavy, festival-size EDM shows, where the music is synched with the visuals, lasers, lights and fireworks, it’s easy to forget that electronic music can also be about artists creating sounds live on stage, with all of the spontaneity and excitement a live show entails. Whether it’s producers going freestyle on stage with their hardware or bands recreating house music with instruments, there are live electronic acts out there right now who are absolutely killing it. Here are the eight you can’t miss.
Sydney duo Jono Ma and Gabriel Winterfield are re-invigorating the sound of late-80s psychedelic Madchester – the “baggy” indie dance of The Happy Mondays and Stone Roses – and as you’d expect from a group that takes its musical cues from good-time live bands, they put on a cracking live show. In fact, their appearance at this year’s Glastonbury was so well received that NME labelled them the festival’s “number one must-see band.” Their set at this year’s Splendour in the Grass saw inthemix right up on the barrier, throwing shapes at two in the afternoon to their massive acid house rave-ups. When they can flesh out the band with more live players, their live set will be truly formidable.
Who would have expected that the languid house sounds of Nicolas Jaar would pull a massive percentage of the punters at the indie-centric Laneway Festival? But that’s exactly what happened in Sydney earlier this year, and by all reports at the other Laneway Festivals around the world. Jaar’s four-piece live group put on a slow-burning, immersive set that worked its way into a steady groove, and held its own against the competition of Flume’s mainstage anthems. With the album for Jaar’s Darkside project with Dave Harrington due to drop on October 8, we’re hoping for some more tour action down our way soon.
With three keyboards/synths, live bass and drums and one of the greatest front men around in Michael Angelakos, Passion Pit are a live force to be reckoned with. Angelakos whirls around the stage like a manic dervish, unleashing his falsetto voice over the weird-synth-dance-pop being produced by the band, whipping the crowd into a frenzy as the lasers go wild. Their recent mainstage set at Splendour in the Grass even made us forget that Frank Ocean’s headline slot had been filled by Of Monsters and Men.
The last time inthemix caught John Talabot in the flesh (at Laneway Festival 2012) you might say that word of his talents hadn’t really caught on yet. “Talabot churned out an unrelenting and downright joyous set to a small but VERY enthusiastic group (you couldn’t really call it a ‘crowd’),” our reviewer said, concluding, “If you ever get a chance to see this man in action, do.” One year later and the word has definitely spread off the back of debut album fIN – Talabot will hold down a top spot on the line-up for Fuzzy’s Listen Out tour this September and October. What his live set may lack in stage antics (which usually consists of Talabot and collaborator Pional working the drum pads, keys, cowbells and singing) it certainly makes up for in dense, danceable sounds that are “not really disco, not really house” (as Talabot told inthemix in 2012) but which contain (the Guardian said) “arguably the greatest sense of build-and-release in dance music since prime Booka Shade…full of incredible tension-releasing moments.”
Damian Vandesande, Clement Zemstov and Jonathan Illel, AKA Parisian act dOp, are one of the few true live electronic music bands. Starting life as a rock’n’roll cover band almost 20 years ago, they journeyed through nearly every genre you can imagine before diving headfirst into electronic music under the dOp moniker seven years ago – and that whole melange of influences goes into making their distinctive warm, down-tempo brand of live house music. They hit Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal for a stunning set during Vivid this year – for a taste of the drunken, loose madness that constitutes a dOp show, check out the below live set recorded earlier this year at the Boiler Room.
The combined powers of futuristic speaker-troublers Modeselektor and electronic composer Sascha Ring, AKA Apparat, have had fans of off-kilter electronic sounds foaming at the mouth for years – and live they’re an aural and visual extravaganza. They toured heavily throughout 2009 and 2010, earning the number one spot in Resident Advisor’s poll for Live Act of the Year, but the past two years saw the trio disappear off the radar as a live force, until their second album Moderat II dropped last month (with an awesome animated clip created by Berlin design gurus and Modeselektor bros Pfadfinderei for new single Bad Kingdom). Moderat are now back on the road with a vengeance, working closely with Pfadfinderei on the visual and artistic elements of their live show, and as Modeselektor member Sebastian Szary told The Line of Best Fit in July, they’re trying to “change the idea of what a live performance is. Usually the best place to be at a gig is at the front, near the centre – we want to make it so different interesting things happen at different parts of the venue.” Fingers crossed their tour schedule will bring them to the Southern Hemisphere soon.
“We’ve actually got about seven of us on stage,” Rudimental’s Amir Amor told inthemix earlier this year. “Myself, DJ Locksmith, Piers and Kesi are the four members of Rudimental and we kind of run the live show, but we bring a lot of our ‘extended family’ – a lot of friends that we grew up with in London – on the road with us… there’s Mark Crown the trumpet player, Ella Eyre our singer who’s also on the new single Waiting All Night, and Tom Jules. We just have a lot of fun on stage! It’s kind of a carnival vibe: we play the music, jump around, take our tops off, and sometimes forget that the crowd is even there.” That pretty much sums up how the chart-topping Hackney lads tackle their shows. It’s full-throttle, high-energy, euphoric stuff – we challenge you not to get a bit emotional when they close with Feel The Love.
Putting these two Norwegians together is a match made in nu-disco heaven. After collaborating on Lindstrom’s album Smallhans they put out a single together, Lanzarote, the perfect soundtrack to cruising around a desert island in a convertible, preferably while inside a pixelated video game (it scored a spot in our list of the top 45 tracks of the year…so far). Then they hit the road for a few select dates at European festivals and in the US, telling Resident Advisor that “both of us wanted to try something new after many years of travelling alone.” The hardware-heavy show will hit Brooklyn, Unknown Festival in Croatia, Marsatac in France and Xoyoloves at the Coronet in London over the next few months – if you can’t make it to any of those shows, best hope for a repeat of Lindstrom’s Australian shows in January this year (this time with Todd Terje in tow). As the man told inthemix, “I really like Australia, although it takes 30 hours to get there for me. But when I’m there I totally enjoy it!”