Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival: Blips, House, & The Avant-Garde

By  | 

This past month, Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival returned to the dancefloors of Williamsburg and beyond to celebrate its 9th iteration, serving up grooves for days to satiate seas of wide-eyed clubbers.

Despite the event’s near-decade long existence, organizers are still managing to up the ante while retaining the DIY aesthetic that has kept the event accessible to all. This year, BEMF stretched across two full weekends, kicking off on Friday, November 4 and wrapping up on Sunday, November 13. With over 15 events spread across more than 16 venues (with an additional set of panel programming that included topics like “The New Queer Dance Floor” and “Is The Underground Overground?”), there was a cornucopia of offerings for all tastes.


Róisín Murphy

The BEMF 2016 festivities kicked off on Friday evening with Irish songstress Róisín Murphy’s long-awaited return to New York City some eight years since her last performance here. Taking place at the sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg, the sweaty show was largely an exploration of 2015’s Hairless Toys accompanied by a smattering of her other solo classics and work with Moloko.

Opening with “Mastermind” (the lead cut from this year’s Take Her Up to Monto), Murphy launched into the first of countless costume changes that paired with each new track (each of which delighted the Brooklyn crowd even more so than the last).

Róisín Murphy brings 'Hairless Toys' (and endless costume changes) to BEMF | Zachary Filkoff

Róisín Murphy brings ‘Hairless Toys’ (and endless costume changes) to BEMF | Zachary Filkoff

Of course, considering Murphy’s absence from the New York crowd for nearly a decade, it’s little surprise that the night’s biggest moments came during performances of Moloko staples as well as the title track of Overpowered (arguably her most successful solo LP). However, even those interpretations of the crowd-pleasers showed the alt-electropop chanteuse showcasing her endless desire to reinvent and subvert the expected, with the “Sing It Back” taking place as part of a mashup with 2015 single “Exploited” while “Overpowered” was reworked as a “techno banjo” country cover.

The Bunker

The following evening, Good Room played host to the BEMF iteration of Brooklyn techno cabal The Bunker, bringing hulking beats and throbbing bass to both of the Greenpoint club’s rooms.

The club’s main room was packed for a majority of night, with denizens of Brooklyn’s ClubWorld filed in to catch a particularly rowdy set from Function & Silent Servant. Over in the sweaty Bad Room, Mike Servito, Gunnar Haslam, and Justin Cudmore played an endless back-to-back-to-back set that dived through a lot of styles but really picked up steam with some key acid cuts.

Mike Servito taking Analog BKNY on another type of acid journey. | Photo: Ross Figlerski

Mike Servito taking Analog BKNY on another type of acid journey. | Photo: Ross Figlerski

An unforgettable moment? The clock striking 2 AM and rolling back for the end of Daylight Saving Time, allow revelers to dance uninterrupted for an extra hour. Sweet dreams are made of this, surely.

We Still Believe

The crowning jewel of BEMF, however, was hidden away down in Gowanus when The Black Madonna brought her first-ever major US tour to Analog BKNY this past Saturday.

The club—which opened this March for one-off events before transitioning to a more straightforward booking schedule around Memorial Day—was a hot ticket on the festival’s penultimate night, with the line to get in stretching down the block at 1 AM.

Once in, however, guests were treated to a masterclass in house from The Black Madonna, Honey Dijon, and Mike Servito, with one of the brightest, most inclusive nightclub crowds of recent memory. Despite pretty—and shirtless—boys packing the room to the gills, everyone could find a comfortable spot on the dancefloor to bust a move to the endless stream of unrepentant slayers being served up. Stellar cuts from the evening: LeLe’s irreverent “Breakfast” and acid-laced Thomos Edit of Armando’s “Take It.”

For those who haven’t been to the Red Hook hotspot before, this night’s magic was proof that it’s a must-hit for any and all revelers looking to escape the pretense and hype of Manhattan and Williamsburg’s club offerings.

Overall, Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival proved to be one of the finest club experiences New York City has to offer. With a lineup that dares to be risky while still being unafraid of bringing it well-known genre stalwarts, BEMF has kept itself fresh and is primed to enter its 10th year next year in a spectacular fashion.

We’re already waiting.