The idea that an audiences want a studio perfect rendition of their favorite song may hold true for pre-recorded pop stars, but for highly musical act like Hudson Mohawke live shows are an opportunity to explore sonically new territory while still delivering the tracks fans are waiting for.
At Irving Plaza in NYC, Mohawk delivered just that while bringing along some friends. After a short set by the Nick Hook and DJ Thoth, Remy Banks took the stage. With a strong local fan base and the support of fellow World’s Fair members Nasty Nigel and Prince Samo, he turned the small yet growing crowd into a party, complete with blunt smoking, mosh pits and crowd surfing. One of the biggest hits of the night was “GLDCHN,” where the chemistry of the three rappers added a new element to the Remy Banks track
Hudson Mohawke took the stage with two co-pilots to take us through his music: Two Door Cinema Club drummer Ben Thompson and keyboardist Redinho. The stage was misty, but the giant closing sign of the headliners name cut through dim lights. The lights were brighter than the diminutive presence of HudMo himself, who stayed lingering in the back of the stage.
The addition of live drums made tracks like “Goo” kick a little bit harder, and the analog element built up layers of sound, unlike the album. On new tracks like “Lil Djembe,” the pounding drums echoed into the electronic beats, weaving a tapestry of sounds that ebbed and flowed with response to the crowd.
One of the biggest moments of the night was HudMo’s rendition of his hit “Chimes.” The track was slowly but surely worked into a frenzy as he methodically replaced all the sounds with the epic “Woof” sample. This is what HudMo does best – take a great song, and push it even further musically.
Again, on “Higher Ground,” HudMo worked and distorted the vocals to give the track a distorted, fuzzy sound. Unlike crystal clear, a studio perfect, wav files, the live song was a living and breathing creature.
The idea that a DJ simple plugs in an iPod and presses play is a recurrent, yet obviously false, criticism of seeing electronic music live. But, time and time again DJ’s like Hudson Mohawke continue to go above and beyond to push themselves far beyond their studio. It isn’t an artist simply performing songs, but creating a unique moment around the music. The audience, their reaction, and the time and place itself all came together to add to the track. At the center of it all was HudMo, the mad scientists whipping all the factors into one unique musical experience.