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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Over the Weekend: Four Tet, Nathan Fake, and Rainbow Arabia at the Independent (Noise Pop)

Posted By on Sun, Feb 28, 2010 at 7:48 PM

  • Joseph Schell
  • Four Tet
Four Tet, Nathan Fake, Rainbow Arabia (Noise Pop)
Friday, Feb. 26, 2010
The Independent

Better than: Watching someone actually check their email for an hour.

Tickets to Four Tet's Noise Pop performance at The Independent sold out weeks in advance, and it seemed just about everyone around me wanted to go. I arrived partway through Rainbow Arabia's set, and the near-capacity crowd was already bubbling with excitement. Singer Tiffany Preston was prancing around on stage, creating new ways to dance to her and her husband's heavily-percussive tropical dance jams. The crowd ate her moves up like free eye candy from strangers. For the group's energetic finale, Preston writhed around on the stage, repeating a high-pitched squeal ad nauseum, and provided photographers with the best photo op of the night.

Rainbow Arabia - JOSEPH SCHELL
  • Joseph Schell
  • Rainbow Arabia

​Next up was Nathan Fake, and from the initial lackluster applause for the UK producer, it was clear that people either didn't know or didn't care who he was. The crowd was there to see the man who would follow him. However, by the time Fake finished his shape-shifting set of distorted electro, hypnotic techno, hyperactive acid-house, and myriad other dance genres, he had fully won the room's admiration. 

  • Joseph Schell
  • Four Tet

​Four Tet took the stage minutes after Fake finished, and the stage was stained blue with light when the serene atmospheres of opener "Angel Echoes" started to swirl out from the soundsystem.

  • Joseph Schell
  • Nathan Fake

​The song comes off Four Tet's newest record, There Is Love in You, a marked change for UK producer Kieran Hebden. On this album, he shows an inclination toward dance music, as opposed to his previous classification as a "folk-tronica" artist obsessed with jazz drumming. While this may have lost him fans, the attendance at The Independent was a strong indication that many are still on board for what Hebden has in store. 

The beautiful vocal samples and pattering percussion of "Angel Echoes" proved to be a beguiling intro, as the following smash of a bass-heavy banger kicked things into the high-gear everyone wanted. It was when Four Tet introduced a slow-burning rendition of album stand-out "Sing," though, that his set truly took off.

  • Joseph Schell
  • Nathan Fake

​Even though Tet's latest songs were conceived while at a residency in London's Plastic People club, on record they don't come off as straight club tunes. Four Tet chooses subtle rhythm and melody over bangers any day, but his live performance is something altogether different. The motorik bassline and cymbal flourishes of "Ringer" sounded like classic Kraftwerk reinterpreted for an all-night rave. The immediately recognizable sounds of "Love Cry," Hebden's latest single, were stretched into a 14-minute dancefloor anthem that sent the room into hands-in-the-air ecstasy.

By the time Four Tet returned to the stage for an encore, all those in attendance--a group comprising middle-aged mothers, die-hard dancers, drunk industry folk, and plenty in between--were salivating for whatever Hebden wanted to throw their way. He had provided us with a realm where we could enjoy his music on many new levels, and this was a world no one seemed to want to leave.

Critic's Notebook

Personal bias: Four Tet did a wonderful job translating his music to a live atmosphere, but there were too many breaks in his set for an artist with such a large arsenal of material. He kept the crowd happy by playing easily-recognizable hits, but I think the energy could've been been more consistent. 

Rainbow Arabia and Nathan Fake were enjoyable and interesting in their own rights, but they seemed forced onto this particular bill. Psychedelic beat music and blog-friendly electro just don't match up quite right to the poignant subtleties in Four Tet's songs. 

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