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Rebecca & Fiona
Thursday, June 21
Better than: The Avicii show at Lavo in January.
I’d been watching Swedish DJ duo Rebecca & Fiona play their wrung-out superclub gruel for about an hour and a half at the upscale midtown joint Lavo when a woman tapped my shoulder. I recognized her. She worked there. She eyed me accusingly. “How did you get in here wearing shorts?” she demanded.
Well, since the weather had reached 93 degrees that day, I’d cut the legs off my jeans before leaving the house earlier, not realizing I’d be at Lavo later—I’d been asked to go late in the day. But I didn’t think she wanted to hear all that, so I told her I was covering the show, and for whom. When I asked the same woman if there if the club had a no-shorts policy, I was told that no, there wasn’t. What a highly unusual question, then!
Anyway, it’s not as if shorts were in limited supply. Plenty of women wore them—the shortest pairs belonged, by and large, to the club’s female employees, ceremoniously escorting bottles of booze to the reserved tables flanking the dance floor. (We’re not counting the dancers on raised platforms, who, let us say, were not wearing shorts at all.)
Dress codes—to say nothing of bottle service, offspring-of-Hooters visual presentation, and women who put their hands near your neck and say, “I work here. Do you want a shoulder massage?”—aren’t my idea of what matters in dance music, so it was only natural that the appeal of Lavo continues to elude me entirely. Watching the fanfare of the waitstaff bringing a case of Champagne bring the dance floor’s momentum to a complete standstill maybe 15 minutes into Rebecca & Fiona’s set seemed par for the course, because the crowd didn’t dance that much anyway. It was a party; the floor was for mingling and hanging out and talking. The crowd moved gamely, like people who know they’re supposed to dance rather than people who are compelled to do so. If you want a pocket definition of the difference between “dance music” and “EDM,” there you go.
I was surprised to find myself not hating swathes of R&F’s performance. (I stuck around for two hours, more than enough to “get it.”) Looking like a pre-indie-film Olsen Twins, they sometimes seemed to have as many people with them in the booth as were on the floor. Their set did some building and peaking, unlike the utter undifferentiated slop Avicii had dished out back in January at the same venue. They opened with what sounded like an EDM remix of Madonna’s “Vogue,” and was followed by some rather fetching Italo-piano-house stuff.
Sorry to be so vague: Shazam failed me for their first half-hour or so. But with a couple of exceptions—the rude b-line of A-Trak’s remix of Martin Solveig’s “The Night Out,” for instance—the bulk of the set was the usual latter-day big-room wash, lowlighted by remixes of Steve Aoki (EDM’s own Lenny Kravitz) and David Guetta feat. Usher (it’s on the DJ’s album and not the artist’s for a reason). At one point, Rebecca and/or Fiona gushed, “This is a new track we just recorded.” Funny, it sounds like crappy 1998 trance. Just about then, another woman, near the back bar, approached me: “How did you get into a club in your shorts? You’re so lucky!”
Critical bias: Dress codes are for suckers.
Random notebook dump: “If this club is so upscale, then why does the music sound so cheap?”