One Step Beyond
Featuring Matt & Kim, Nacey, and AraabMuzik
American Museum of Natural History
Friday, January 14
Better Than: Night at the Museum
Astronomy: It’s so hot right now, from the recent zodiac-sign hoax to the release of the largest-ever image of our galaxy (which, let’s be real, resembles a flamboyant first-grade art project). And now we have the return of monthly party One Step Beyond in a planetarium. Because when you think of the science of space, you think of Matt & Kim.
The AMNH’s gorgeous and cavernous Rose Center is indeed a beautiful place to throw a party, but more an acid-fueled Breakfast Club lock-in than the uptown prep-fest that is tonight’s jam. It feels more like a Social Network final club’s end-of-year gala as opposed to last year’s psychedelic hipster summit with Animal Collective in the very same room. One Step Beyond always brings in a slew of relevant guests, but this hoedown ends up trying to be all things to all people, and skews too young, white, and just south of cool. Which is not completely surprising, since Matt & Kim are a cheerful indie-lite band who rarely DJ, and the two openers have completely separate styles and crowds.
AraabMuzik is a producer/beatmaker playing a crucial role in the Dipset reunion. He taps away at an MPC-2000 sampler with turntablist speed, his flurry of fingers creating a sped-up, almost trance-y long-form hip-hop improvisation that is pretty wild to witness live. His entourage arrives early and plies the crowd with hundreds of free t-shirts, so that by the time D.C. DJ Nacey hits the stage, it appears that almost everyone (or every girl, at least) is wearing one; undaunted, Nacey spins an upbeat set of familiar stomping electro, including Tensnake, a house version of “I Need a Dollar,” and his own Robyn bootleg.
But the big draw tonight, of course, is everyone’s favorite rum pitchmen, Matt & Kim. As you might expect from their live show and videos, M&K have infectious energy to spare behind the turntables: They’re clearly enjoying themselves, though they also freely admit that they have no plans to quit their day jobs. Introduction: “We are not professional DJs . . . now are you guys fucking ready?!” Then they drop some heavy hip-hop bass on us. It’s a surprising start for them, and it works, until we realize that this is all we’re getting: track after track of totally passable DJing and totally predictable music choices. (Jay-Z, the Beastie Boys, Dr. Dre, and “Let Me Clear My Throat” are all trotted out.)
The crowd eats it up, of course. While Matt spins, Kim plays the hype-man, and vice versa; their momentary grinding slow-dance provokes a shall we say positive reaction, as does everything else they do. While M&K’s music could almost pass for hip-hop with indie singing, it’s disappointing to see a band who make somewhat original music spin such a predictable set of old hits from only one genre. The cuteness quotient almost suffices, though, until you look up from your moon rock and realize that you’re uptown listening to Naughty by Nature, and there’s no more booze. The universe, thankfully, is way bigger than this.
Critical Bias: Good party. Off night.
Overheard: “This actually really reminds me of when I went to prom at Ramaz.”
Random Notebook Dump: The Tom Hanks-narrated “Passport to the Universe” short in the Planetarium (included in the price of admission) is far superior to Angels and Demons.