By John Ray
As a large city Los Angeles has long had a thriving electronic music scene, but, as the waves of popularity have risen over the past three years, many have become disillusioned with the “kandi culture” (teenagers replete with wrist bands and neon) and looked for 21+ events and more underground artists. In 48 hours this weekend I attended two disparate shows, headlined by Claude Vonstroke and Daniel Avery respectively, which proved that Los Angeles still has the capacity to attract aficionado crowds and artists who adhere to the maxim “the talent is on the turntable”.
At 23:00 on Friday our party of 6 arrived at Los Globos. Gone was the $5 early entrance fee and in its stead was an ominously large 200-person line, which at 23:15 we were still near the caboose of. I hadn’t expected this level of popularity for a Daniel Avery concert even though Los Globos as a venue is on the intimate side. My close associate, Ben, provided an explanation for heightened interest, “this is a Rhonda event”.
A Club Called Rhonda, one of Los Angeles’s new and (thus far) extremely successful breed of event promoters that rely on lowered entrance fee’s, day of online RSVPs, and social media, to attract the public to their events, has brought a not-insignificant portion of the Los Angeles night life and, specifically, the LGBTQ community, to Los Globos on what was an otherwise dull night (talent-wise).
Its 00:00 and we are still in line. The crowd has thinned considerably, two of our party have deserted us, and we have been informed that is 30 minutes before they will let anyone else in. Max, another cohort and a burgeoning event promoter himself (he is one of the co-founders of Off The Deep End Live!) has had prior business with Los Globos and hope for our group of four appears from stage right, in the form of Sire, one of the clubs two managers. Sire owes Max a favor and, after spending the past hour watching VIPs and other pass by with scorn, we enjoy the same treatment. This is the game of Los Angeles nightlife. If you plan on showing up late, plan on knowing someone if you want to get in.
After Sire finally gets us upstairs it is obvious what makes this a “Rhonda night” the club has been transformed from its usually drab scenery to one that is decorated with original art, has hallways with bright red lights, and its typically desolate supplementary bar is buzzing with activity for once.
We make our way over to the dance floor and Classixx, a back2back two man team and the openers for young Avery, are playing some of their original “yacht house” tracks, but also mixing in some classic songs and contemporary “hits”. They have the crowd’s full support, perhaps an effect of collective “friendliness”, and at the peak of their set they drop one of the electronic songs of 2012, Duke Dumont’s “The Giver”. Released in September on the “For Club Play Only Pt. 2” EP, “The Giver” has taken on a life of its own as an international hit and drawn support from notables like A-Trak, Erol Alkan, and Diplo. Needless to say the crowd goes a little bonkers whenever it is (often) played and this night was no different. Classixx really did a great job of getting the crowd warmed for the more divisive and “acid-y” sound of Avery.
At around 01:30 Daniel Avery transitioned onto the stage (the four of us were up their with him at that point) and it was immediately obvious that he had both his own sound and great original material when he opened with a mix of his two most popular songs: “Drone Logic” and “Taste”. “Taste”, backed by a nice deep beat and the muffled chant of “Taste it, Kiss me again” was Avery’s first break through hit of the year, but his star was built on the basis of a residency at London’s top club, Fabric. At Fabric, Avery was able to experiment with his sound and do other things that young musicians (Avery was then 23 and is now 27) do when they make the move from pleasing amateur to niche professional. Avery’s tracks have gotten deeper and more confident year by year, as evidenced by his soundcloud page that has less remixes and mixes and more strong EPs of his own material.
Daniel Avery has tiny eyes and it makes him seem sleepy or high or focused when you glance at him. He bops to the music, smiles at friends, and creepy girls in rave kit staring at him for 30 minutes on stage. At first I was not as impressed with Avery, simply because his set sounded slightly monotonous. It seemed to lack the punctuation of a popular track or the sonic orgasm (most recently seen in Todd Terje’s “Inspector Norse”) that denotes a high point in a set and frames the rest of the songs around it. But the more that I think about it, it was excellent, Avery quickly established a particular sound, stuck with it, and kept the dance floor alive for his entire set despite voyages into the more obscure depths of his USB roster. Few artists can do that and, perhaps that’s what has drawn so many UK luminaries to Avery. Erol Alkan, Avery’s idol and mentor, signed him to his Phantasy Sound label and Erol’s “out there” mentality has clearly been imbued into Avery if it was not already there.
The show ended, we grabbed our various over garments, moved away from the on-stage air conditioner, and headed home with a collective euphoria from what was an excellent night of dance music and lucky coincidences.
– to be continued…