“The Juan MacLean, Shy Child, & Free Blood @Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival”
For Knocks from the Underground
By Michael Bradshaw
Every electro fan has the same conversation at some point, perhaps among friends, in which he or she is questioned about their preference for the genre.
There’s the scorn; the silly objections (‘is it really music?’); and, of course, there are the imitations; the, umph! umph! umph! vocalized in mockery of the most accessible and tedious types of house music that even electronic music fans can’t stand⎯and by which the Brooklyn Music Festival held at the Old American Can Factory Saturday was mostly populated.
Although the primetime slotting of BEMF was in no way representative of the Brooklyn electronic music scene itself (no Anamanaguchi, no Dan Deacon, no Matt and/or Kim), a few standouts performed quite well despite being almost entirely surrounded by music that most often gives the genre a bad name.
Exceptions to the rule included Free Blood, the strikingly enjoyable Brooklyn duo comprised of John (formerly of !!!), Madeline, and a host of other falsetto-inflected purveyors of fine funk who were relegated, unfortunately, to the white-hot back room of BEMF.
Typically a bit stiff and dubiously void of resemblance to their own studio recordings, Saturday night Free Blood was in top form.
Shy Child, a primetime booking in the open-air arena at the front of the venue, did a fine job demonstrating what good New York electronic dance music usually sounds like. Lead, Seth Misterka wielded a keytar escalating their conveyor belt of cool computer music skyward riding on an up-drafted synth, live drums, and sax. Fist rose in the Brooklyn night to meet it and grab on.
The Juan MacLean issued a tidy, track-for-track set of understated dance electro. Summoning the spirit of a Theremin, Juan’s hands were, for the night, his sole instruments of seduction, which he used to draw out the stale breath of BEMF and re-inflate the event with fresh air. The crowd leaped at the climax of Happy House (a reference to a line in the movie Groove, regarding mainstream house music) and the venue swelled to contain all the screams of joy.
And then it rained. Again.