Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival
Music Hall of Williamsburg/Public Assembly
Saturday, December 18
Better than: Last year’s. (Seriously.)
A beer exploded on Public Assembly’s stage Saturday night. It was a party trick in this case — a direct result of “Samir’s Theme” booming through the speakers of the club’s grimy back room and one girl’s resulting need to spastically jump around while holding her half-opened beverage. Three people were caught in the foamy downpour, though the only one who noticed cheered while shaking her hair dry; Star Eyes, the DJ and instigator of it all, likewise remained totally clueless behind her turntables. Multiply that by a couple hundred and you’ve got this year’s Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival.
We arrived a little after 1:30 a.m., but the majority of our dancing cohorts had been at the festival for four or five hours longer, raging through set after set of tech-y house, nu-disco, battering club, and every shade of rave. Really, it’s these nights — eight hours long with 30 electronic acts spanning over two venues (Music Hall of Williamsburg and Public Assembly tonight) — that force a DJ to actually perform to keep their overexerted public entertained, or interested at all. The best of them play hype man, shouting sass and encouragement to their fawning public. Others dance behind the turntables, making the whole exercise seem like a physically straining workout. And tonight, Kid Sister’s DJ, Willy Joy, did a whole lot of it all.
Frankly, though, Kid Sister is a marvel on her own. Within a song or two, you know almost everything there is to know about her — that her bubblegum persona as the “girl from down the block” is just as real as the sweat she’s covered in from her aerobic-style booty dance, and that performing is just as fun for her as it is for you. She did all the songs we know, rasping her way through the favorites (“Beeper,” “Control,” “Pro Nails”) and occasionally taking a break to fan herself off and flirt with the audience. Her rapping took a backseat, though — with lyrics that poke fun at the “party girl” aesthetic, it’s impossible to see her as anything but a club diva herself. All nails, smiles, and sass, Kid Sister actually is the girl next door, except hotter. The set ended with a hometown salute via “Switchboard,” which ultimately culminated with Willy leaving the turntables to join the MC in a juke-themed dance-off. The audience won.
But, let’s not forget Star Eyes! By the time we headed back over to Public Assembly, the DJ was doing some dancing of her own, though hers wasn’t quite so choreographed. Intently focused — almost as if she didn’t notice the tightly packed group of friends dancing around her — she played a set that seemed perfectly catered to the dingy, warehouse-like space. Aggressive, pelting bass was the common denominator throughout, but it was an awesomely executed set of Baltimore club that prompted us to shamelessly throw ourselves into the mix, which caused a second explosion, this time with Vitamin Water.
The night ended back at MHOW for us, where London-based Sinden had just taken on headlining duties. He was one of the “elders” of the night, which was obvious, as he made a point of pairing down-tempo dance favorites with new, upbeat club parallels. Some newer U.K. funky was mixed into Yellowman, a remix of Deborah Cox’s “It’s Over Now” segued into Ciara’s “Ride” (love!), and somewhere in the mix we heard a gritty, bare-boned club version of Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair.” By now, though, even the most staunch devotees of the dance floor had started to show wear. Couples slouched against each other – one girl close to us occasionally pulling away from her makeout partner to have the same conversation with herself every few minutes. “Should we go? No, I’m having fun. Let’s stay. Or should we go? Let’s dance!” We shared her sentiment, alone, for the next hour or so, battling sleep to revel in Kingdom’s closing (and after-hours) set. And, when we finally forced ourselves to leave, we noticed that the girl had abandoned her now passed-out friend to dance by herself. Good for her.
Critical Bias: “Samir’s Theme” makes every person from Baltimore jump up and down, too.
Overheard: “James Murphy is singing over Tittsworth’s set!” (Not true.)
Random Notebook Dump: Heard that Azari & III did both “Into the Night” and “Reckless With Your Love” live, and it ruled. 🙁