David Guetta at Beta

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David Guetta November 20, 2008 Beta

David Guetta is popular. Of the many DJs I’ve seen at Beta, I think tonight was the most crowded, with the possible exceptions of Danny Tenaglia and maybe Richie Hawtin, which were close. It was so crowded I was constantly being walked into, stepped on, spilled on and rubbed against. Dancing was difficult, apart from sort of nodding and bobbing in place. Hell, breathing was difficult half the time. And the crowd was really oblivious and/or self involved, which didn’t help. While it certainly spoke to Guetta’s popularity, it was stifling and unpleasant.

Guetta’s set didn’t start until midnight, by which time I was pretty annoyed, but I resolved not to let that color my perception of his set. As he took the decks he promised us “sexy French house music,” a promise that he didn’t really keep. He started off slowly, with a couple of tracks that featured long, elaborate and excessive breakdowns. In a sense those two tracks set the tone for the rest of his set. Excess and obviousness vied for supremacy in most of what he played. He favored tracks full of cheap, clichéd tricks like machine-gun snare fills; chugging, offbeat bass lines; and the kind of arresting, irritating synth tones that sound like they started life as those obnoxious “squee” noises that come out of a balloon when you pinch off the neck as air escapes.

His mixing was pretty solid and his pacing, apart from an over reliance on long breakdowns was fine. Honestly, much of his set flew by and I wasn’t ever bored, even though I wasn’t quite enjoying his set. His tracks favored a European-tilting style of house derived from hard house, trance and the cheesier side of progressive, plus a few vocal tracks that ranged from divaesque to the kind of pop R&B Justin Timberlake is known for. A few of the tracks he dropped were individually appealing but overall the set was too rigid, too dull and completely lacking in subtlety for me to really enjoy, even though I understand why all those people were there.

-- Cory Casciato

Critic’s Notebook Personal Bias: David Guetta has really only barely registered on my radar. Random Detail: In one particularly WTF moment he played “Zombie Nation,” also known as “that one electronic song they always play at football games.” A tip: when a track has become a ubiquitous part of sports culture, it no longer really belongs in a DJ set – just saying. By the Way: To the two couples that were both so wrapped up in groping, sucking and grinding on each other that they didn’t notice they were rubbing against me half the time, thanks for the single ickiest club experience of the entire year.

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