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Manhattan, Brooklyn DJs induce summer sweats
BY MICHAEL VAUGHAN | My best friend, Mario, is Portuguese. Growing up, I’d play him indie rock. He’d play some bleepy-bloopy computer music, I’d frown, and he’d say, “Bro, in Portugal, I’ll take you clubbing and you’ll get it!” He’d pollute my car speakers for a little while before I wrestled the iPod from his Iberian hands to finally put on Arcade Fire. Electronic music was far out of my comfort zone.
Then, we went to Portugal.
The streets were sepia. The air was salty. The radio was nothing but house music — all the time. Back home, my aunt drove through the back hills of Appalachia crooning softly to Hank Williams. Here, his aunt chain smoked cigarettes and howled Inna tunes in a raspy voice. Every day was synthesizers, hi-hats and bass drums. When Mario would wake up, sometime between 4 and 5pm, he’d open the bedroom window and electronic music would come shuffling down the street into our living room. It was inescapable.
A transformation started coming over me. First, my head started bopping to the rhythm of some cheesy Eurodance while we drove through Lisbon. Next, my shoulders started rolling when we got on the bus to go to the bars. Finally, my mouth moved in slow motion as I asked, “Yooooo, whaaaatt is theeee nameee of thiiiiis saaaong?”
That was it. From that moment on, I have never resisted. The four on the floor beat is my vice.
Hopefully, you’ve accepted the groove, because it’s flowing down sidewalks, careening off rooftops and emanating from windows in every borough. New York is mecca for electronic music right now.
We’ve birthed entire movements in the genre — jackin’ New Jersey house, MK’s organ-friendly garage tracks and dark Brooklyn basement techno. Dance music is a mainstay of New York.
It is a perfect time to go see a show. There is a brilliant DIY scene in Brooklyn that is undiscovered by many. There are clubs all over Manhattan playing everything from top 40 EDM to UK Garage. There are festivals of all sorts that call New York home every year.
Here is a list of some of the best bleep-bloops this summer.
GOOD KIDS PRESENT is a collective of four DJs and a photographer that throws dance parties peppering the Lower East Side and Brooklyn. They have a weekly event every Monday at the dark basement club, Home Sweet Home in the Bowery. Be sure to check out their upcoming show at Glasslands Gallery, which features Jerome LOL, a DJ who writes in caps-lock and whose website looks like it was set up by the Soviet tourist bureau 30 years ago. A lot like Good Kids, Jerome is all about the music, he doesn’t take himself too seriously. Info: facebook.com/goodkidspresent.
BODY LANGUAGE is a dancey, sweaty, delicious summertime essential. Think Animal Collective goes to the pool, smokes a joint, grabs the local elementary school choir and heads for the disco. This four piece electro-pop band got started playing the DIY circuit in Brooklyn and is now killing dance floors in Manhattan. With a new album coming soon (“The Grammar LP”), Body Language has only just begun their ascent. They will be making hands clap and booties shake on August 1 at Bowery Ballroom. Doors are at 8pm, and the show starts at 9. Tickets are $13 in advance, $15 the day of. Info: bodylanguagemusic.com.
GEOGRAPHER is poppy and catchy, but not bubblegum. They’re a band, but their music could have just as easily been made on a laptop. They’re fun. They’re pensive. They’re dark. Think New Order’s troubled American cousin on a Slip ‘n Slide. It shouldn’t make perfect sense. Do yourself a favor and go hear the haunting swells of analog synthesizer and howling vocals at Bowery Ballroom on August 24. Doors are at 8pm. Tickets are $15 the day of, $13 in advance. Info: geographermusic.com.
YOUTH LAGOON is a factory of sentimental, hook-laden jams. His soft voice sits beautifully over whistles and catchy electric piano. For someone who self-labels as experimental psychedelic music, he is remarkably accessible to an ear more attuned to pop. His LP “Year of Hibernation” was an anthemic first release back in 2011 and “Wondrous Bughouse,” his sophomore LP (released in March on Fat Possum records), proved that his creative juices are still flowing. Prince Rama, A Brooklyn bred psych-pop band, will be opening. Tickets are $20. Info: fatpossum.com/artists/youth-lagoon.
ALUNAGEORGE are mixing R&B and electronic flavors like a less racist Paula Dean in this kitchen. The British duo consists of Aluna Francis singing sexy Mariah Carey-like vocals and George Reid making equi-sexy beats to back her. Their lyrics are blunt, reminiscent of Lily Allen. Their beats are pumping and edgy like their cited inspiration, Hud$on Mohawke. England has put their overwhelming stamp of approval on this duo, with the BBC nominating them to their Sound of 2013 poll and Disclosure collaborating with them on their hit, “White Noise.” They will be at Bowery Ballroom September 5. Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 the day of. If you miss that one, they will be at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on September 6. Info: alunageorge.com/
MISTER SATURDAY NIGHT is a “lofty” loft party, according to their tagline. It’s held Saturday nights in Brooklyn, usually in a private residence that they repurpose for the night into a groove-fueled, friendly dance party. They also host Mister Sundays, an all-day get down, at Gowanus Grove. Hosts and DJs Eamon Harkin and Justin Carter are veterans of Brooklyn’s DIY scene. With a true love for dance music and a distaste for clubby drama, they created Mister Saturday Night hoping to bring people together who want to dance well into the morning. It’s simple. It’s fun. There are no fancy chandeliers, no Grey Goose bottles and no guidos. There’s a dance floor and a toothbrush the host accidentally left in the bathroom. MSN is a dance party for the locals. Go check it out. The next Mister Saturday Night is July 27 at 342 Maujer St. (btw. Morgan & Waterbury, in Brooklyn). There will be a Mister Sunday at Gowanus Grove every Sunday all summer long, weather permitting. Info: mistersaturdaynight.com.
BASS SQUAD is a rowdy time. It’s young, fun and stylish. The Squad itself is four undergrads from NYU, Graham Fortgang being the CEO and Lenny Vidges the Creative Director. They began two years ago with a raucous, sold-out party headlined by Moombahton DJ Dillon Francis and have since matured into an organized company. Recent artists that have played at Bass Squad events include A$AP Rocky, Baauer and Disclosure. Check out the Squad at their weekly Thursday night event, Prysm, at Lil Charlie’s (in Little Italy). Info: facebook.com/basssquadnyc.
ELECTRIC ZOO is for the EDM fanatic. Either you’re a bandana-wearing, Skrillex hairdo-sporting basshead or you’re a neon-tanked, Camelbak-chugging festival aficionado. Electric Zoo is the place to be on the festival circuit. On Labor Day weekend, an army of DJs including Avicii, Tiesto, Datsik, A-Trak and a whole slew of others will descend upon Randall’s Island and pump the place with house, dubstep and trance. This is a brand name show. Not for the faint of heart. If you plan on doing E-Zoo right, buy your tickets far in advance, stock up on granola bars and start your push-up regiment now (as navigating the viscous crowd will be a marathon workout). Ticket prices are rising quickly. Right now they range from $139 for a one-day pass to $359 for all three days. Info: madeevent.com/electriczoo.