Four thoughts: Chromeo and Flume at Brooklyn Bowl (August 7)

Flume at Brooklyn Bowl
Chase Stevens, Erik Kabik Photography

1. Just when you think Canadian electrofunk duo Chromeo couldn’t slather on the schtick any thicker, they double-dip the trowel and smear their audience with it—which makes it difficult for anyone not buying it to appreciate either its music or performance of it. Vocalist Dave 1 and synth-fiddler P-Thugg played up their retro playground-rockstar act with full commitment on August 7, much to the pleasure of the onlooking (and near-capacity) crowd, and know how to whip up a hook (see this year’s “Jealous,” its first taste of radio airplay). But not all hooks are equal, and much of the Chromeo canon—rooted squarely in the early 1980s, more derived than inspired by—wouldn’t have made the cut for the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. And more to the original point, their delivery, at least on Thursday night, is thwarted by the duo’s cliched posturing, gimmickry and affectation—much more so than previous (and more enjoyable) Vegas live sets. After Dave 1 exhorted the crowd to two-step during “Fancy Footwork,” Chromeo was only a “Brick House” cover away from becoming a wedding band. Mercifully, it neither played that song, nor performed past the 70-minute mark.

2. Thursday night was my first taste of a Brooklyn Bowl doubleheader, featuring a prime-time concert and a post-midnight act. A tip to anyone deciding to catch both in the future: Brooklyn Bowl allows no ins-and-outs in between spaced-out headliners, despite slapping you with a wristband upon your arrival and ticket-scanning. Nearly three hours elapsed between Chromeo walking off the stage and twilight performer Flume first stepping upon it. (And with what looked like a full house for both acts—the latter’s surprisingly large Vegas following filling in every gap left from those leaving right after the former—I’m sure the venue’s bar registers weren’t exactly empty.)

3. That said, I doubt many were still grumbling by the end of Flume’s bracing and utterly transfixing set at 2 a.m. Behind a long desk and alternating between his Macbook, Ableton Live controllers (one which he used like a keyboard), sampling/drum pad and whatever other gizmos comprise his live setup, the young Australian born Harley Streten executed an 80-minute widescreen electronic orchestration that recalled the stylistic patchwork of Flying Lotus, Porter Robinson, M.I.A. and DJ Shadow at different times. Imagine a more ambient, late-night and breathable version of the Mad Decent aesthetic, or an American version of Massive Attack, or a progressive version of “open format” actually worth the stanchion-snaking wait.

Flanked by a large video wall displaying hypnotizing graphics—including what looked like an update of the high-speed, space-age simulation that precedes all Regal Cinemas screenings—synchronized with the illuminated, Lite Brite-esque drapes that framed it, Flume evoked a wide range of moods, his productions (both original and remixed) taking on brooding, atmospheric, exotic, anxious, angelic and seductive characteristics. The slow, dubby “Drop the Game” nonetheless warmed up the impatient crowd, Flume easily ensnaring those still disengaged with the two preceding, summer-like jams: his own sublime “Sleepless” and his remix of Major Lazer’s island-flavored “Get Free.” A huge reaction followed the first notes of Lorde’s “Tennis Court,” which Flume notably improves upon. The ethereal, genreless “Insane” found a 120-BPM sweet spot. And the night effectively climaxed an hour in with his remix of Disclosure’s “You and Me,” which also bettered its original (performed on the same stage the night before), Flume swapping the English duo’s jaunty two-step out for cinematic horn approximations, big-baller breaks and bewitching female vocals—all merging to James Bond movie-title effect.

At this point, even Brooklyn Bowl staffers were holding their recording phones aloft. Everyone else just quavered and swooned, later launching into two different “one more song!” chants when Flume disappeared. He returned to double the crowd’s demand and then graciously say farewell. He also said he’d be back—oh, he better.

4. I sure hope the various music programmers of the Strip nightlife scene were on hand to witness the rapture this sardine-packed throng showed this decidedly non-EDM upstart. Flume isn’t the flavor of black card-wielding VIPs (who rarely dance or pay attention to the DJ anyway), but his pop-intuitive soundscaping and growing audience suggest a bend in the commercial-house road.

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Mike Prevatt

Mike Prevatt turned his passion for rock 'n' roll and dance beats into an actual job during his stint as ...

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