Friday, November 11, 2016

Moderat, Autarkic, Noga Erez live at Hangar 11, Tel Aviv

Toronto music fans will remember the Warehouse (later the Kool Haus), which hosted countless international acts in spite of having the worst acoustics of any major music venue in the city.  I personally found the sound to be OK if you were down near the front, but at the back, sound was lost throughout the cavernous expanse of the venue, choked off by the many pillars spread around, vanishing into the high ceilings.  Hangar 11 is a similar venue for mid sized (~ 2000 persons) concerts and conventions, located on some prized real estate in the ultra cool Tel Aviv port, and "features" even worse sound that the Kool Haus ever had, at least as far as I can remember.

Noga Erez's version of "soulful" vocals over bruising electronic beats and live percussion was pleasant enough, although it felt like a million similar opening acts I've seen at other live shows.  Autarkic, however, was the perfect warm up act for this crowd.  He's obviously studied his LCD Soundsystem records well, memorizing every last ironic lyric delivered with pithy nonchalance, and every bumping intro building into electronic freakouts.  It was hipster techno extraordinaire, delivered to an impressive variety of vintage Tel Aviv freakos and hipsters whose ages spanned over four decades as far as I could tell.  Even I was starting to get won over by his set, although I'd never listen to this stuff at home.

I'd waited seven years to finally see Moderat live (although I've seen Modeselektor twice) and nothing about their show was disappointing. Unfortunately, I can only dream of how much better it could have been in a venue with decent sound, where guitar techs know how to do proper sound checks and the bass doesn't sound distorted nearly beyond recognition.  During songs that were lighter on the bass it wasn't too distracting, but "Intruder" (to name the most egregious example) was completely ruined by the wall of watery, distorted bass vibrations that blanketed the song.

Nonetheless, their nearly two hour set couldn't have been executed any better.  The visuals started out in minimal black and white, casting the band in stunning black silhouttes.  Colour started seeping into the occasional song, mainly in monochrome, before "No. 22" closed the main set in a blitz of kaleidoscopic colour.  A good half of their set was built around the subtle, R&B tinged downtempo techno of their third album.  But "Milk" is an exception in their catalog, a ten minute slow building clubland epic that destroyed when played live, as you'd expect.  Their more expansive, breakdown filled songs ("Running", "No. 22") were the highlights for me, even though I've come around on their new album since the start of the year.  If the end of the trilogy really represents the end for Moderat as a studio project, their album stands as the best advertisement possible for forward thinking pop artists looking to collaborate with electronic music producers.  

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