This past weekend I headed out to see one of my favorite newcomers, the Pegboard Nerds, tearing it up with one of my old favorites
Pendulum Knife Party at Washington DC's Echostage Venue.
First things first – I have no idea where Echostage is. Yes, I live in DC. Echostage is nestled in an area of town that probably has similar crime rates to the Sudan. Or the Congo. But its where the fun is, amiright? We booked an Uber to get there so I still have no idea where it is, but we knew we were in the right place by the scantily clad women and discarded glowsticks outside. Echostage has an awesome layout – a “main floor” where all of us commoners pack together and rage, then a U-Shaped balcony upstairs where all the people who can afford bottle service or who are cousins with the doorman can hang out and look down on the stage (and the commoners). Speaking for the men in the audience, they seemed quite thrilled with the fact that they could see up girls skirts whenever they felt like it.
When we arrived a guy named Mega was playing, and it was surprisingly good for an early opener. We got our drinks and started enjoying the bass-tastic sounds blaring. Next up was Pegboard Nerds, which was where the one misfortune of the night happened. The sound was turned down to introduce them, and unfortunately, it remained at noticeably low volume for their entire set. I felt like I was in a Euro-house bar sipping wine, or like I had suddenly gone partially deaf. The PBN were stoked and maybe they couldn't tell through their earphones, but the crowd was definitely subdued for their set. “Houston we have a problem!” tweets emerged. The problem was fixed just before Jack Beats, thank God. Super unlucky for the Pegboard Nerds though, and a major bummer. Nevertheless, their set was great and they were full of energy. I wish I could get a copy of it to listen to at higher decibels.
This was the first time I'd ever heard Jack Beats live, and I was really digging it – remixes have a driving bass with an almost tribal sound. Party-goers continued to stream into the crowd, despite the fact it was past midnight. It was around this time that people's makeup starts to look like Halloween gone wrong, and folks are looking a little tired.
Digression for a second – there is a lot of chatter about what makes an artist break through into international fame and recognition. In my opinion, there is no greater predictor of this than their ability to read the crowd and invoke a response.
Rob Swire is a fucking master at working the crowd. He says jump, people start hopping. He says shout, people scream their lungs out. The music itself is fantastic, of course, but I would say their most underrated talent is working the crowd. Their set was nonstop rage and bass, and the crowd was dripping with sweat the whole way through. Previously I've heard some of Rob/Gareth's “meandering” while they experiment with sounds – but there was none of that. The guys were just laying it down and dominating. Honestly the only coherent thought to cross my mind during the entire set was –
“Now this was worth paying for.”
We stumbled home at 3am, ears ringing and reeking of booze and sweat. Thanks Echostage for a great night, we'll be seeing you again soon.