Nicolas Jaar in London

  • Share
  • For a city with such an enviable club scene, it's surprising that London has next to nothing going on midweek. If you compare the capital's current Monday-to-Thursday scene to 2001, when nights like Luke Solomon's Space and Erol Alkan's Trash were running weekly, then the lack of school night fun in London is truly shocking. But not only was the main room busy when I arrived at the Thursday show of Nicolas Jaar's recent two night engagement at fabric, the contingent of girls in the place was probably higher than at any other time I've visited the venue. Instinctively you might have thought Jaar's cerebral experimentalism would mainly attract beard-stroking hacks: that is until you remember Jaar is not only young and good looking, but he also had perpetually fun Soul Clap and Gadi Mizrahi in support—three DJs that know a thing or two about getting ladies on the floor. In fact, when Mizrahi dropped the R&B chug of Bad Rabbit's "She's Bad" during the warm-up, the amount of females on the dance floor felt so un-fabric that you may as well have focused on the exposed brickwork of the club just to give yourself a sense of place. After a solid warm-up from Mizrahi that threatened to take thing up a level with some house cuts later on, newcomer Valentin Stip took the energy levels down massively with an assured but spaced-out live set. This kind of worked like a sonic aperitif before Jaar's headline slot. It's a testament to the anticipation the crowd had for the main act that everyone patiently listened and seemed to stay rooted to the dance floor. One criticism that naysayers could lay at Nicolas Jaar would be that his music's not very clubby, that "It wouldn't get you going on a night out." It's impossible to say this about his live show. As he appeared from under spotlights on the main stage, Jaar had taken a role of conductor, overseeing a saxophonist, guitarist and drummer. Firing off electronic loops while lurching between the piano and laptop, the producer made for engaging viewing—despite the fact that, on occasion, he looked ever so slightly uncomfortable on stage. It was from this position behind the mic that the Clown & Sunset boss added the extra punch to make his music work in a club setting. A drummer added all-important rhythmic lines while Jaar twiddled the levels to add impact. In fact, the constant filtering from high end to booming lows happened so often it could have been an over enthusiastic electro house DJ at the controls, yet somehow it didn't sound out of place at all. Saying this, the success of Jaar's live show is entirely on his own terms. The music is remarkably slow for peak-time club action, even within a context where Wolf + Lamb are playing the support slot. I'd be surprised if the music went much higher than 110 BPM throughout the entire night. The lack of recognisable hits also makes his show peculiar. The South American mumble of "El Bandito" was the closer, which isn't a traditional sing-a-long number. However, it didn't take much more analysis than looking at the 1,000-or-so clubbers losing their shit at the peak of his set to realise that Nicolas Jaar looks like he's already a legitimate dance music star. That Soul Clap then stepped up and dropped Madonna's "Vogue" into a set of woozy, electro-inspired house is a credit to both the DJs and the good time the dance floor was still having at 3:30 AM on a Thursday. Although economists would argue otherwise—wary of the amount of sick days that would be pulled—London needs more nights like this.