At Ocean Club Sunday night about a thousand fans of the two sides of dance music -- rave/rock and house/techno -- took full advantage of superb weather to savor the work of young electro-rave star ZEDD and established house music master FEDDE LE GRAND.
Zedd, whose real name, according to Wiki, is Antlon Zaslavski, hails from Germany but has a sound quite unlike that of any of Germany's many top-name DJs. At age 24, however, he belongs to a generation whose roots do not lie in house music, soul, funk, blues, and jazz. Instead, Zedd plays speed riffs at a funklessly fast 130 beats per minute, with textures taken from arena rock and grunge. It's a sound quite at home in rave culture, very much of a piece with his sometime collaborator Skrillex. At Marina Bay the dropped his best-known tracks, "Breakin a Sweat," "Slam the Door," "Shave It," the aptly named "Shotgun," and his own speed-riff haircut of Swedish House Mafia's "Save the World." Unexpected it was to hear that sentimental -- and overplayed -- track dressed up in speed riff, yet it was thus that Zedd showed just how strong he is at imposing his sound upon everything.
Using a PC program and furiously tweaking and editing his breaks and effects, Zedd made the music run fast, blare, blast, blurt, and make like a machine-gun. There were few pauses in his workout set, but one track, the almost house music "Stars Come Out," took the place of a pause.
He also reached back to the early 1990s to quote Reel 2 Reel's "I Like To move It,' and borrowed one of current dance music's cutest nasties, “Internet Friends (You Blocked Me On Facebook)” by Knife Party. Brief however were Zedd's quotes from house music tradition. Soon enough his set reverted to fast riffs and blurts on bang.
Le Grand wasted no time changing the tone of things. Zedd's riffs and rave may be the trend of the moment in EDM ticket sales, but Le Grand demonstrated that he has enough respect in the dance music community to play beyond trend and make fans like it. Far more complicated is his sound today, as laid out in the complex techno of "Metrum" a trippy "Autosave," and the Europop house music of "So Much Love," then it was back in 2008-09, when he filled Boston's Royale with fans of his anthem "We Don't Take No Shhh..."
Then, the Dutch DJ favored a reggae-influenced take on classic house music. At Ocean Club, though, Le Grand spread out a multiplicity of sounds and feelings. There was synthy dream pop in his mix, and soft house music in his rhythms. There was the pounding of techno, and the meow of Europop. There were evocative abstractions and singsong lullabying.
Classic as well was his mix technique. He used no PC program, and he employed a powerful, shut-down version of DJ quick-cutting. He edited and tweaked and raised his hands in the air, exciting the crowd and toying with it, making the emotional intricacies of his music look easy. Which this strongest Fedde Le grand set I've ever seen most definitely was not.