Sunday, 28 August 2011

Omar S @ PS1

Here is a review I did for Resident Advisor on Omar S at PS1. It was a great day, much enjoyed by all.

Having been held for 14 years now, MoMA PS1's Warm Up, a series of parties in the Long Island City venue's giant courtyard, have set something of a benchmark for summertime electronic music in New York. Acts like Chez Damier, DJ Harvey, Spacetime Continuum, Afrika Bambaataa and Carl Craig have provided New Yorkers with the sort of uniquely euphoric moments that this wonderful space was tailor-made for, and the recent booking of Omar-S lay the groundwork for another healthy event.

For those arriving from Manhattan, there are a number of ways of accessing the venue, but few can claim to be as good a warm up for the Warm Up as taking the water taxi from East 34th Street. After an edifying walk from the shore side, we entered to see Beppe Loda, a PS1 veteran, guiding the small but growing crowd through a selection of his trademark afro-cosmic electro. Lindstrom's "I Feel Space" sidled up comfortably alongside Henrik Schwarz's "Kuar" remix. Like a muddled cross between New Order and Oneohtrix Point Never, Steve Moore's 45 minute synth excursion after Loda's set failed to set feet a-tapping, the dance floor thinning as the beer tents bulged.

This lull played into Simian Mobile Disco's hands. Feelings tend to be divided over SMD, with harsher critics accusing them of straying closer to pop than heads down house and techno, even if Delicacies and some of the tracks on Is Fixed showed that they knew their Blake Baxter from their Burt Bacharach. Here they started strongly. Levon Vincent's "Man or Mistress" and Axel Boman's "Purple Drank" provided early highlights as a wave of cooling rain ruffled hipster hairdos. Then came Oliver $'s "Doin" Ya Thing." And then the crowd went wild. Much digital ink has been spilled over the relative vices and virtues of this Moodymann-sampling ditty. Having witnessed its rapturous reception here, it seems safe to assume that this particular crowd wasn't overly caught up in issues of intellectual property.

Omar-S took to the stage as the rain started falling more heavily, and "Here's Your Trance Now Dance" was welcomed by a patchwork of bobbing umbrellas, each a toadstool of approval. The precipitation did nothing to cool the crowd's enthusiasm, and the Detroit resident's vocal-heavy set provided a glorious complement to the simple enjoyment of dancing in the warm summer rain.

These parties do an admirable job of walking a difficult tightrope between anaesthetised commercialism, art world bureaucracy and dance floor mayhem. It is in the crowd's recognition of how unique these events are that provides the stimulus, year in, year out, for collective explosions of smiling faces and hands in the air. When the last record stopped spinning at 9 PM, most were too grateful to complain.

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