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Arts and Entertainment

I Like to Move It, Move It - MSTRKRFT & Digweed @ Vanguard, 3/3

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When the lineup for the Diamonds ‘07 tour was announced this past January, it may have left some indie and electronic music aficionados scratching their heads. In its first year of what will become an annual event, Diamonds ’07, sponsored by MTV Urge and Puma, featured a split-bill between indie-electro favorites MSTRKRFT and Mega-Superstar DJ Digweed. Although both acts are founded on the general groundwork of “music to dance to,” until recently, Digweed and MSTRKRFT each had its own audience belonging to separate subcultures, released tracks and albums depicting dance music’s subgenres, and performed at venues belonging to non-intersecting music scenes.

MSTRKRFT, DJ duo from Ontario, Canada, is made up of ex- Death From Above 1979 member Jesse Keeler and DFA 1979 producer Al-P. While coming from an indie rock background, MSTRKRFT is purely electronic music, and like so many new DJs and electronic acts, play their tunes through Mac Powerbooks. Before their performance at Vanguard Saturday night, they seemed to wear their indie rock influence on their sleeves with remixes of artists such as Metric, DFA 1979, and the Killers. I’d argue differently now; while perhaps catering to Vanguard’s audience (the majority of attendees were there for Digweed), MSTRKRFT did play the remixes that made them “big with the kids,” (as well as bloggers and in turn, industry-heads) but for the most part, kept audiences waiting for something more. The music coming out of the speakers Saturday night was less melodic, less danceable, and less climactic than what MSTRKRFT has previously given listeners, whether it be through their 2006 debut album The Looks, or at prior live shows – they played Little Radio in July and Safari Sam’s this past Halloween. Instead of their usual graceful merge of indie/dance, their set on Saturday night was more along the lines of straight up techno.

While the audience may have been a bit confused on how to respond to MSTRKRFT's sound, the Diamonds '07 tour has given them a chance to break out of the developing "indie-electro-nu-rave" scene, a music trend they claimed to be completely unaware of. And at $45 a head with Vanguard's capacity at 1600, I'm sure the cashflow ain't so bad either.

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On another side of the electronic music scenes lies Digweed. Over the years, the DJ/ producer has become one of the biggest names in dance music of all time, defining the term "global deejay." Known for spinning progressive trance and house alongside fellow DJ Sasha, his resume lists club residencies in cities such as New York, London, Tokyo, and Paris, movie soundtracks, and about a dozen albums containing both original material and remixes of artists such as New Order, Underworld, and Danny Tenaglia. Over the past decade, Digweed has built a massive following, both in the mainstream and with pure dance audiences; this was made clear Saturday night. As soon as MSTRKRFT left the decks (or in this case, laptops) and Digweed appeared on stage, the audience suddenly seemed to wake up - this was his crowd. Playing until 4am, Digweed kept the usual early-to-bed Los Angeleno's out dancing way past their bedtime.

Photo by Ali McCarthy for LAist