Music festivals can be overwhelming in New York City, especially when the mass majority of people are interested in the same musician. Luckily, Brooklyn and more specifically, Williamsburg, has given us a breath of fresh air with a new festival set-up. CMJ, Northside, and more recently, Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival, are some of the more prime examples of the newer festival layout that this city has adapted. Spread out over multiple venues over the course of a weekend, music festivals have become less overwhelming in one space by making attendees walk from venue to venue to catch their favorite act.
What does this mean?
It means less worrying about no cell phone reception in a large festival arena; less sixteen year olds pushing in front of you when you’ve been waiting at the front for two hours; and most importantly, less people to deal with in a concentrated area.
Except for when the two biggest names of the weekend happen to play at a venue like Music Hall of Williamsburg…well then, you’re in for a crowded and well-deserved treat. Both Gold Panda & Nicolas Jaar put on intimate performances at the Brooklyn venue on separate nights. Those who purchased tickets for BEMF knew that those two were the acts to see, as crowds rushed the venues for early entrance to get a good spot.
Both musicians contrast one another quite differently. Audiences received a high-energy dose of dance and intense head bobbing from Gold Panda and a mellower build-up from Nicolas Jaar.
From Gold Panda, the highlights were drawn out over the course of the evening, pertaining specifically to teasing the audience by holding off to drop the crowd-favorite – “You” which he only dropped near the end of his set. Giving only snippets of it here and there over the course of an hour long set left the crowd curious and entertained. “Quitter’s Raga” came towards the very end, and was probably the highlight of the entire set, for its defining sitar electronic sound. No matter how well acquainted one might be with the actual track, it always feels like a new surprise to hear it dropped.
Nicolas Jaar took a different approach. Playing some of his more known songs, but focusing mainly on live edits, the evening began with subtler songs that built up to a momentous drop, only to return to a build-up. Contrasting from regular DJ build-ups that work towards that climax and drop only to continue that level of energy then subtly work up to another drop – Jaar was focused on the build-up itself, which wound up linking songs together, ultimately creating the carefully crafted smooth transition from subject to subject.
Other highlights of the festival included performances by Photek, Baths, & Shlohmo. I was pleasantly surprised to find Baths really personable, modeling sweet musicianship and listening to a really intimate crowd of devoted fans at Glasslands.