The long-running dance night Grave Ravers brought in legendary experimental electronic artist Kid606 for a 2 a.m. set at Rhinoceropolis this weekend — though Kid606, born Miguel de Pedro, might scoff at the idea of being called "legendary," because that word implies perhaps wealth and a level of regard from a wider range of music fans that he doesn't necessarily enjoy. While far less interesting artists fill amphitheaters, Kid606 tends to play more intimate venues. But the people involved in Grave Ravers had brought in a sound system that didn't skimp on the power — and the clarity helped the Kid606 set, as well as others that night, have a strong impact.
Kid606 came in with a laptop, some controllers and other gear for a fairly modest setup — but it quickly became obvious that he was the star of the night. The low end was not just pounding percussion and hard-edged bass frequencies; it was the kind of treated rhythm track that gets into your bones and makes you move to the beat almost against your will. Coupling that with unconventional melodies and samples of well-known songs like “Blue Monday,” by New Order, and “Da Funk,” by Daft Punk, deftly woven into a seemingly continuous but ever-evolving whole for well over an hour and a half, Kid606 compressed time through an attention to detail, dynamics and rhythm that took what could have been another solid live DJ set and made it into a riveting, bravura performance.
What made the show even more impressive was the fact that longtime fans of De Pedro's work probably didn't recognize much. De Pedro has released work with album and song titles so absurd and brilliantly humorous that they make you wonder if there's any connection between the music and its labeling. But the music so often speaks for itself that the names of the works are incidental, and for this show the song titles weren't even announced. The format, the setting and the way De Pedro conducted himself, just laying out a set that never got boring or staid, made for a bigger statement, a bigger experience, than music packaged into smaller, easily commodified pieces. This performance required you to be there, be engaged and be open to what was going on around you — without having to focus on what you're trained to think is the appropriate format and way of consuming music.
Helping the experience shine were Jak L. Turbo's arresting visuals. Projected on the far wall like glowing crystals and brilliant neon signs, Turbo's images not only complemented the music, but were an essential component of the atmosphere and the entire event. They weren't overwhelming, as visuals often are at an EDM show, but they weren't almost nonexistent, as is the case at some techno shows. A combination of retro and otherworldly, the ever-evolving projections went far beyond the manipulation of film and video footage that you often see at shows at smaller venues.
The combination of strong music with an immersive visual environment made this 25th edition of Grave Ravers with Kid606 and the also excellent DJ Detweiler and his own hip-hop-inflected set not just memorable, but worth staying up well into the night to witness.
Keep reading for more photos and our critic's notebook.
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Bias: I've been a Kid606 fan for years, and finally catching him live at an event like this was something I won't soon forget.
Random Detail: Lots of light fog in the room made for taking even remotely clear pictures an interesting challenge.
By the Way: Kid606's latest album, 2015's Recollected Ambient Works Vol. 1: Bored of Excitement, is an excellent and legitimate ambient album. Also, anyone who enjoys Grave Ravers should check out a Deep Club event. And vice versa.