It’s a fairly ridiculous proposition to try and review a dance party. This may be one valid argument for the camp that aims to label shows like Dillon Francis’ Wet and Wreckless Tour a “nightclub” event rather than a “concert” (the license-oriented reason that the show was moved from the Washington Avenue Armory to the Upstate Concert Hall last week). It doesn’t really work to approach a lineup of DJs in the way a critic might a live band, passing judgement on the performance based on the artist’s ability to replicate their studio work or emote in an authentic way. Regardless of how the DJ is feeling, the bass is going to be loud and the crowd is going to sweat. Dance music is body music and it can be a waste of energy to let the head participate too much.
Nonetheless, indulge me in a few sentences of reflection.
Like late-season football fans, EDM kids deserve respect—not ridicule—for the amount of skin they’re willing to bare, waiting to get frisked at the door of a show in November. They ultimately get the last laugh when everyone has filed into the terrarium-like inner sanctum of the dance floor and there’s no dry corner to stash your now-cumbersome coat and hat. If this is evidence of brains in a scene that gets a (sometimes-deserved) bad rap for gross intoxication and misconduct, it’s not the only bit. For a show that featured a maxed-out breathalyzer, the bar seemed slow and the clientelle nimble. After all, it’s hard to zombie-walk with a cup in your hand through a crowd dancing at 120 BPM.
I’m not under any illusion that most of the audience was intimately familiar with openers Baauer and Clockwork, the latter of whom played a solid two minutes of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” before applying any sort of “remix” treatment and dropping the inevitable electro thump. In a genre that makes no apologies for its accessibility to the attention-deficit, this stuff was as immediate and predictable as it comes. Again, body music.
While Francis has risen to prominence on the back of the Moombahton genre, his set still relied on two-step beats and house buildups, with only a sprinkle of the latin-inspired rhythms that give the style its character. Not that anyone seemed to mind. After all, they’d taken the opening oath to “pledge allegiance to Dillon Francis. To not give a shit. Or a fuck.” Contract fulfilled.