Wednesday, Dec. 14th, 2011
Better than: Sitting in a plastic rocket and pretending to go to the moon.
While a typical midweek party at Mezzanine might see the opening DJs playing an indulgent set to a small group of friends and a room full of bored bartenders, it was a different story last night when Digitalism made the last stop on its U.S. tour.
Local DJ Eli Glad began warming up the stage around 9 p.m., playing tracks from Cassius and The Weeknd, much to the delight of the already ample crowd gyrating on the floor. Despite an atmosphere of snowflakes and Christmas lights in the background, the thumping house music served to remind concertgoers that this wasn't some horrific company Christmas party, but rather a sold-out Mezzanine show with some excellent indie-tronica Germans.
At 10 p.m., we were promptly asked to clear the upper mezzanine, as some guy had bought 75 tickets to the show for his closest friends, including an open bar. Everyone begrudgingly made their way downstairs, with a few stragglers attempting some form of flirtatiousness to linger in the exclusive balcony. Closed until 1 a.m, the balcony later became the hotspot for girls in tight sequined dresses and bros still clothed in their business casual attire.
Second on the bill was Anna Lunoe, an Australian female DJ who looked as if she might moonlight as an American Apparel model -- and who, in retrospect, was a highlight of the night. Delayed momentarily by a few technical difficulties, she and her leopard print sweater stole the show playing a range of disco and tech-house tracks, including the local Martin Brothers' "Duckface." As the initial awkward technical problems faded away, it was clear that she knew exactly how to cater to the San Francisco crowd. "How Deep Is Your Love" by the Rapture followed, and from that point on, the audience was under her spell for the rest of the set.
Things took an abrupt dip in energy as Lunoe's set ended and the gifted -- but misplaced -- Data Romance took the stage with a moody, bass-laden performance. Equal parts Portishead, Goldfrapp, and Evanescence, the duo jumped from dark, melancholic crooning to mid-tempo, house-influenced pop. With depressing lyrics like "And I'd break bullets for you, it'll take you out, take you out, too," Data Romance was like the dip in the rollercoaster before headliner Digitalism took the crowd back up again. Despite the band's talent, the crowd was clearly here to party. At times, people even attempted to shout Anna Lunoe back onto the decks, and a widespread restlessness was apparent until the dance music resumed.
Around 11:45 p.m., Digitalism took the stage to a huge sigh of relief from the audience. The stage lit up and revealed a huge array of equipment, including a live drum set and multiple synthesizers. As an LCD screen came alive with three hearts, the crowd got a second wave of energy. For its last show of the tour, Digitalism immediately turned on laser-light excitement for the sold-out crowd, playing newer tracks like "Two Hearts" early in the set. It was clear that frontman Jens Moelle just wanted everyone to have a great time -- or turn into kangaroos, as he shouted "jump" about 20 times throughout the night. His vocals, showcased on the group's newest album, I Love You Dude, were impressive, as he belted out the words to tracks like the heavily remixed single "Circles." Three-minute songs turned into seven-minute synthesized remixes. The band's enthusiasm was either met with screaming fans (emptying their lungs throughout the entire show) or silent acknowledgment. The audience members differed vastly: The ground floor was a bobbing sea of amoebas and flailing limbs, while the upstairs was a more mellow standing and seated crowd, quietly enjoying the pulsating LED hearts and discussing what to eat after the show.
An hour into its set, Digitalism dropped The Cure's "Fire in Cairo" into an old favorite, "Digitalism in Cairo." It was then that we remembered that Digitalism has been around for seven years, and isn't just some new trendy electronic group. The group's set was a mixture of the old and new, although the crowd heavily favored older tracks like "Blitz " and "Zdarlight." Between all the hearts, pulsating lights, and sparkling snowflakes, it was clear that Digitalism just wanted to be loved, and the crowd obliged until the wee hours of the night.
Personal Bias: If Wednesday nights are the new Friday, then we may never have a functioning Thursday again.