Berlin's Modeselektor showed just why they have shone so brightly on the electronic music scene for such a long time with a gig of epic proportions at Store Vega on Thursday night. Their stage antics were accompanied by a fascinating light show by visual DJ and design collective Pfadfinderei, a detail that added aesthetic genius to a brilliant musical performance.
Sebastien Szary and Gernot Bronsert got together in the early 1990s when Germany had just been shaken by the collapse of the Berlin Wall. They found gigs playing acid house and trance music to hordes of anarchic Berliners in a now-united city. Since then, the duo have gone on to produce music alongside the likes of the city’s ‘first lady of electronic music’ Ellen Allien and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, who is a fan of Modeselektor’s experimental electronic sound.
As the lights dimmed following a warm-up set from Benjamin Damage, Szary and Bronsert appeared behind an instrument panel that resembled the complexity of a Boeing 747 cockpit. The duo got the flight off the runway with the bouncy track ‘Grillwalker’ off their 2011 album Monkeytown. After drifting into a monotonous ascent pattern early on with what seemed like a routine, pre-programmed track list, Modeselektor found their groove as the show reached its cruising altitude. The eager crowd was served a feisty series of heavily-edited singles and album numbers that got everyone going.
Modeselektor draw from a diverse range of musical influences, ranging from hip hop and glitch right through to driven techno. This eclectic background was made abundantly clear throughout the show. At one point, songs such as the pile driver-like ‘Kill Bill Vol 4’ gave the impression that one was at an early ‘90s rave in the Midlands of the UK. At other moments, hip-hop lyrics accompanied by fat, squelching bass lines were the order of the day, as tracks such as ‘Monkey Flip’, a 2011 single made in collaboration with Kenyan hip-hop artists Nazizi and Abbas, gave the crowd a break from its crowd surfing and mosh pits.
Midway through the show, Szary found the time and space to weave away from his instruments and towards the front of the stage, spraying the crazed front row with water. The trick was repeated later on by Bronsert, only this time with champagne, which seemed to do anything but cool down the eager crowd.
With the show coming to a close, Modeselektor eased towards land once more with a performance of the bass-heavy and soulful track ‘Berlin’. It had everyone swinging along and swaying from side to side, capping off a memorable return to Denmark for the veteran electronic musicians.