My anticipation for Fehrplay and Jeremy Olander’s show in Boston last night was tempered with a little disappointment — that I wasn’t going to be able to see their label head Eric Prydz himself in New York next month as part of his “EPIC” North American tour (his shows sold out in less than 5 minutes, which is no surprise when you watch this). In the end though, seeing Fehrplay and Olander turned out to be much more than just a “consolation prize” for missing out on Prydz; the Scandinavian DJ duo rocked the socks off Bijou with a ferocious two and a half hour tag team set, showcasing a diverse mix of genres that pushed the club’s legendary sound-system to the limit.
And what a sound-system; some claim that Bijou’s sound set up is the best in the city, and I’m inclined to agree. With 4 massive speakers set up in each corner of the dance-floor, it can almost feel like you’re swimming in sound — particularly if you’re in the middle of the club, where the sound hits you from all sides and the floor is vibrating with bass beneath your feet. Too many EDM shows these days only have speakers set up at the front, which forces concert-goers to face forwards and limits people’s ability to dance and lose themselves in the music. By contrast, Bijou offers a proper nightclub atmosphere, replete with flashing lights, smoke machines, neon LEDs and mesmerizing visualizers (more on that later).
With big smiles on their faces throughout the night, Fehrplay and Olander offered up a proper DJ set, taking turns on the decks to deliver 150 minutes of pounding, no-frills European dance music. Their set was structured in three broad sections. The first hour or so was pitched more towards the house-heads, with a succession of groovy tracks building up a nice Friday night atmosphere (my personal favorite was Fehrplay’s recent single “Monte,” which kicked off the evening). Then, as the dance-floor reached capacity around 12:30, Jeremy Olander took the reins to lead listeners into darker, more aggressive techno and tech-house. Highlights included the driving “Superlicious” by Swoop and the stripped-down “Mussian Rother” by Pig & Dan (+1 for the name on that one).
Once the crowd had been effectively pummeled into submission, the pair steered the night towards the more uplifting, melodic territory that is the trademark of their record label Pryda Friends. Fehrplay dropped a succession of recent hits that triggered dance-floor delirium: “Phantom,” “Every Day,” “I Can’t Stop It,” and “Burning,” which I pegged as the only full-fledged vocal track from the evening. The trance influences in Fehrplay and Olander’s sound came to the fore during this closing section of the concert: lots of extended builds and euphoric synth melodies that had the crowd waving their hands in the air in delight.
The hypnotic light show didn’t hurt matters either. For a lot of shows (and particularly at club nights like this), the visualizers can feel like an after-thought, just a screensaver projected up on the wall to keep the crowd distracted. The visual backdrop for Fehrplay and Olander, however, was perfectly pitched to the music, following a scientific motif that echoed their crisp, minimal aesthetic: constellations, molecular structures, planets, mushroom clouds, Rorschach patterns, and at one point an epic solar eclipse.
The night ended with Olander’s blissful “Let Me Feel,” leaving the crowd — and the DJs — beaming with joy. The American dance music explosion over the past few years has mostly focused on the extroverted “builds and drops” of dubstep and electro-house. Hopefully as the EDM scene matures over the coming months and years, we’ll be treated to more of the soothing and uplifting sounds of Fehrplay, Olander and others. Fingers crossed.
Image courtesy of Pryda Friends.