August 27, 2014

Dirty Vegas, Live: Playing in the Other Team’s Ballpark

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This ain’t no broodfest…

Within the last few days, a pair of prominent EDM acts played two traditional rock venues in NYC—Dirty Vegas at the Mercury Lounge (4/27) and Wolfgang Gartner (4/28) at Irving Plaza. How did they turn out? DJ Times was there for the festivities.

First up, Dirty Vegas: In the tight Merc environment, usually reserved for singer/songwriters and upcoming bands, Dirty Vegas vocalist Steve Smith stepped onstage and threw down the gauntlet right away: “This is house music!” he shouted as he shook a tambourine, almost defiantly, at the audience.

Translation: This ain’t no broodfest—you’re allowed to have fun in here tonight.

A good number of Brit ex-pats seemed to take him up on it, roaring their approval. Paul Harris quickly punched out some freeing synth beats and Ben Harris jumped in with some scritchy-scratch funk guitar, while live drummer, Rees, set down the foundation. Easing into the deliciously tuneful “Changes” from the new Electric Love CD, the only thing missing was its gospel-diva backing studio vocals. But it didn’t seem to matter, the 100 or so audience members caught the groove and were swaying to the pulsing beat and responding to Smith’s further exhortations.

Later on, the massive early decade hit, “Days Gone By,” was met with instant approval and the group extended it with some rattling rhythms. Its “Sweet Dreams” synth coda mightn’t have been necessary— but the room ate it up anyway. Catchy newer rave-ups like “Emma” connected immediately and, when they dropped another newbie, “Little White Doves,” half the room was singing its “hello, hello…” refrain.

For the record: There were no glow sticks in the house and, by show’s end, nobody was scratching their chin—not a bad night for a Brit dance band playing a decidedly rockist venue. Call it a big road win.

–Jim Tremayne

 

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