Chaos in Texas Live (Finale): The Field

Stockholm syndrome works over fans

The Field’s Axel Willner at the North Door, June 2
The Field’s Axel Willner at the North Door, June 2 (by Shelley Hiam)

There’s nothing mainstream about the Field. Stockholm DJ Axel Willner’s capricious slash of minimal house groove belongs to a very niche group of people. Someone so fetishized should rightfully end up at Chaos in Tejas.

The 200 or so people who watched Willner’s set Sunday night were clearly big fans, which likely made him totally comfortable with disappointing a room full of people who paid to see him. The clean, synchronized perfection found on his albums was nowhere to be heard here. Instead, we got an hour of smudgy, indecipherable noise occasionally undercut with a flimsy dance floor groove. It was loud, foggy, and abrasively decontextualized.

I like ambient music, and if Willner feels that a smokier approach might be the best thing for the future of his project, more power to him. But put out a single or something to let your audience know what they’re getting. It was really a bummer watching diehards desperately try to attach themselves to a rhythm that refused to arrive, and, for Willner, pretty dickish to abandon a crowd that’s fallen in love with the three LPs he’s released.

I doubt Willner cares. It was a minor set at a punk festival, and he probably felt unattached to any anticipation. He fucked around with some loose, paper-thin experimentation, like he was bored in a studio – the sort of thing you’d expect to see at a bullshit house party. Guess the kids in Texas weren’t really worth the effort to play “Over the Ice,” right?

Shrugging off the North Door on a Sunday night won’t ruin his reputation; it’s not like he fumbled a Fabric headlining spot. But I’ll tell you what, Axel. I was pretty excited to see you this weekend, and, from here on out, your Chaos in Tejas set will always be the first thing I think about when I hear your music.

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The Field, Chaos in Tejas, Axel Willner

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