Recap: MSTRKRFT at Bill's

Photo: Rita Lombardi.

Bonkers party snaps by Mike McKay at Brilliant Mistake.

October 12 at Paper/Bill's Bar

For those of you who thought Paper was faded permanently into early-2006, MSTRKRFT (or at least a recognizable fraction thereof) descended on Landsdowne Street to restore the night to its glory-days program of sell-out crowd and stellar atmosphere. The crowd is similar to the Harpers’ Ferry days, with a median age creeping up on 20 and eerily reminiscent of a hardcore show three years ago (except, y’know, there’s more than two girls there). Lord knows how it happened, but somehow Paper has trained an audience of young punks to appreciate forward-thinking dance music. If last night’s event are any indication, we’re one step closer to never having to hear “Baby Got Back” again. File under: return to form.

First off, Bill's was packed. The opening set by resident DJ E-Marcé (rhymes with par-tay) set the tone for the evening with a barrage of electro remixes – the good shit by international heat-makers like Digitalism and Sinden, plus some by past guests (Krames of Cobra Kai, Boston’s own Red Foxxworth). One act conspicuously absent from this list was the night’s main event.

Unless you’ve been stuck under a crate of Joanna Newsom records for the past 18 months, you’ve probably come across a MSTRKRFT remix of your favorite Pitchfork-approved “dance”/”punk” product, or at least figured out that MSTRKRFT = a duo featuring some dude from Death From Above 1979 plus some other guy. Adapting the full frontal attack and sheer volume of DFA79 with the electro aesthetic developed by Daft Punk in the late ’90s, they’ve steadily blurred the line between rock and electronic music, creating a sound that is agreeable to both sides. (If this sounds familiar, ask yourself what the other DFA have been up to lately.) Although MSTRKRFT are, relatively, the new kids on the remix Bloc, their Annie and Metric reworks are already showing up as frequently as such dancefloor-enabler-to-the-stars as Paul “Phones” Epworth, Tommie Sunshine, and Jacque Lu Cont.

Due to an illness, most likely brought on by a relentless touring schedule, the famous MSTRKRFTR -- Jesse from DFA79 -- was unable to attend, and thus the duo was slimmed down to an uno for the evening (half-STRKFT?). This hardly seemed to be an issue as Al-P turned in on of the finest sets that Boston has seen in a while. Blending classic and contemporary electro with original productions, he guided the crowd through tracks that most DJs wouldn’t dare play for fear of losing momentum. (Not that I was scribbling notes or anything, but the scorecard would’ve included that Alan Braxe/Fred Falke remix of Kelis’s “Bossy”, some Black Strobe, lots of Daft Punk.) Each successive track was met with an enthusiastic ball of sweat and pumping fists. Unlike your typical rock-star set, this one scored high on actual technique: from mixing and levels to song selection and crowd control, you would be hard-pressed to find a misstep in the full two hours. Yet it really seems as though Paper ‘s crowd was genuinely into what Al-P was playing rather than just how he was playing it.

The times they are a changin’, as the mainstream culture continues to inch it’s way back towards electronic music, nights like this are becoming more and more common. And with the help of acts like MSTRKRFT and parties like Paper your nights out on the town are going to get very interesting. It would seem that it’s time to knock the dust off your parachute pants and warm up your glowsticks, the rave is on its way.

-- Mike McKay

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