Nicolas Jaar & Eric Cloutier @ As You Like It, San Francisco 27-11-10

Words by: Sean-Michael Yoder
Posted: 30/11/10 11:41

Nicolas Jaar, Eric Cloutier @ As You Like It, San Francisco 27-11-10As You Like It parties have to be some of the most memorable, off-the-radar events going on in San Francisco these days. Held in a scenic, yet non-descript location the promoter seems to send out smoke signals to the small group of attendees because the vibe is always friendly, relaxed, and completely on the down low. The other great aspect of these gatherings is the opportunity to catch great touring artists and DJs in a comfortable, intimate environment.

In celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, As You Like It pulled out all of the stops and offered a New York City double billing of techno heavyweight Eric Cloutier on the decks and a live set from rising young star Nicolas Jaar. The result was a night of unabashed pandemonium that found the small spaced overly cramped during Jaar's short-but-ever-so-sweet live performance but still reached the critical mass level where both music and crowd transcend the realities of the mundane world of the everyday and transports revelers, regardless of sobriety levels, to a mythical Never Never Land for a few brief hours.

Openers Bells & Whistles, a young local duo, got the night started right with a gentle, relaxed opening set. The small space, filled with enough speakers for the 360 sound system to come alive and a wrap around visual screen just above the head, was still open enough to encourage dancing and immersion into the sensory onslaught the room becomes as the night drags on. Bells & Whistles played it perfectly with plenty of energy and fun vibes to get jump start the early crowd.

Detroit émigré and As You Like It resident, Rich Korach played one of the night's better sets with an amazing selection of cuts that touched more on the musical side of Detroit techno while flirting with the wild psychedelic abandon found only on the West Coast. Rarely do opening DJs assert their personalities, resigned to being set-up men for the out-of-towners and yet Korach left an indelible mark on the event without ever once injecting his ego or pulling out the big tracks.

Once Eric Cloutier came on, the relaxed, airy vibe evaporated giving way to frantic spasms of the best kinds of debauchery. Cloutier, a mainstay at New York's Bunker parties was clearly the reason many of the party's attendees had come that night, braving the bitingly cold temperatures. The gifted DJ channeled his Detroit pedigree through the tough streets of New York. Over the next three hours he took clubbers on a journey from dark, assembly line techno cuts through layered minimal selections and finally into the soulful realms of house. His versatility and ability to shift genre directions at a moment's notice gave his set a very reflective, gentle vibe despite the intensity of the beats and a few mixing glitches along the way.

Dance floor space quickly disappeared as hordes of people crammed their way into a postage stamp sized box to see and be a part of Nicolas Jaar's live performance. The wunderkind did not disappoint with an hour set that was nothing short of moving but with a few too many bodies it became more endurance than transcendence at times. Jaar's music split the difference between modern composition, house music, and the blues played at mid and hip-hop tempos for maximum connection with American audiences. The way he shifted the BPMs up and down so effortlessly was practically a tutorial for aspiring DJs and when he broke things down to a mutated version of Louis Armstrong's 1928 classic "St. James Infirmary" he connected the dots so effortlessly between the old and the new even academics would cry. The performance was simply stunning, few artists in any genre are making these kinds of logic leaps and here's 20 year old Jaar making it look fun. His set wrapped up way too quickly and the oversized crowd quickly dissipated with the impending sunrise, content with their fill of high quality music and good times.



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