Frats have taken Disclosure. It was bound to happen. The brothers Lawrence, Guy and Howard, made one of the best house albums of all time with 2013 bow Settle. Resonance was about as inevitable as Dylan going electric. They packed Stubb’s Friday with polo-donned sardines, enveloping all with chilly synth and mesmerizing percussion.
It’s pure biology, really. The UK duo rips the blackened rant of a preacher and turns it into a four-on-the-floor burner in “When a Fire Starts to Burn.” Don’t underestimate Disclosure’s musicianship, either. Virtuosity is tangible stuff since angry boomers turn their noses up to the very notion of music without guitars.
Howard Lawrence sings lead on the quicksilver “F for You.” He keeps a turquoise bass wrapped around his waist and a small drum set above his computers for a punchier sound in the midst of all that digitalism. Disclosure had an absolute blast letting things fly.
It’s beautiful timing that a dance record so perfect arrived on U.S. shores during a period of sustained popularity for electronic music. The vibe at Stubb’s was pure rave rather than club claustrophobia or mass festival convergence. Although it seems somewhat pessimistic, Disclosure might be better off playing in more intimate venues than out in the fields.
“White Noise,” “Latch,” “You & Me,” all undeniable bangers, benefited from a bit of space. They’re songs you want to be facing each other for. Being a festival staple isn’t a bad fate, but it feels like Settle was written with something a bit more subtle in mind.
A few miles away at Emo’s, another 2013 all-star was taking the stage in Darkside. The partnership of American-Chilean beatmaker Nicolas Jaar and Brooklyn guitarist Dave Harrington resulted in Psychic, a dark, pulsating amalgamation of ominous psych, velvet down-tempo, and unapologetically sexy riffage. It attracted the artier, Brown-educated portion of Austin’s nightlife on Friday.
Nic Jaar knows what he’s doing. He uses bass like a precious resource, each elongated passage of amniotic vibration punctuated with ribcage-rattling thunder. He coaxes serious desire out of his audience, because Darkside aspires to masterwork status. The plebes chatting away at the bar verged on sacrilegious.
Centerpiece “Paper Trails” had Jaar croaking his smoldering voice alongside Harrington’s parched, aching guitar. The stage stayed dark, save for the violent splashes of white, grey, or auburn light at the most dramatic turns. They were jam-y, both performers noted improvisers, but they never wandered. You get the sense these two could phone it in without any of us knowing the difference.
Disclosure played a wall-to-wall onslaught of A+ hits, but Darkside remains the more memorable act of the night. They built a set with restraint, strong emotion, and a healthy dose of drama. Disclosure took the easy way out, which isn’t a critique at all. They’ll learn that handing out euphoria on a silver platter doesn’t always taste as good.
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