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Live review: Nick Warren at Beta

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Nick Warren October 10, 2008 Beta Better than: A Thursday night without go-go dancers

It’s strange that I’ve never seen Nick Warren before. I’ve owned his discs for close to a decade and I’ve written about him. He’s played in places I was, but somehow the timing just never worked out. I’ve never been a huge fan – I’ve always considered him to be a solid if largely unremarkable artist who occasionally manages to elevate his work to something special and distinctive. Still, he’s got more Global Underground discs than any other artist, he’s considered one of the top progressive DJs and he plays some of the biggest venues in the world on a regular basis. So it was with a fair deal of anticipation I headed out to see him tonight.

I wish I could say that Warren changed my opinion or even just displayed one of his more exciting and innovative moments, but it was not to be.

Throughout the set, Warren made some odd decisions in terms of his sequencing, track selection and pacing. One notable stretch saw him switch between a nice two or three track build--up of some sexy, swinging progressive house (the kind that always puts me mind of a science-fiction disco) before switching rather abruptly to an a cappella breakdown that slowly escalated into a swinging, summery vocal house track. From there he suddenly went into a hard-charging, soulless and brain-dead remix of the Chemical Brothers’ "Hey Boy, Hey Girl" that was easily the hardest thing he’d played all night to that point. It was jarring, perplexing and not conducive to building any kind of mood except confused.

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I wasn’t alone there – he seemed to lose most of the dancefloor with his strange sequencing choices and some really blah track selection. For every killer track he threw down – and there were definitely a few that got my head nodding – he’d drop two more that just sucked – the worst, cheesiest, most sterile sounds of progressive. He also had some minor technical glitches in the form of ugly, clunky quasi-trainwreck mixes, but I could have forgiven those if I was feeling his direction and track selection. I was thoroughly underwhelmed. Still, given his rep and following, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and see him again before I write him off completely. -- Cory Casciato

Critic’s Notebook

Personal Bias: I do find a lot of progressive house to be soul-crushingly dull and stupid. Random Detail: The crowd was smallish, but had an unusually large proportion of meatheads. By The Way: The go-go dancers made it all worthwhile – when the music got dull, I just watched them until something interesting happened again.

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