[20 August 2009]
John Maclean, the bald front man of electronic group the Juan Maclean, was precarious and awkward in between songs during his group’s late night set at the 12 hour long Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival. At one point he waved a baggie of coke, demonstrating his incentive scheme for bandmates. At others he heavy-handedly mocked the weed “addiction” of his keyboard player, explaining, “That’s why he makes so many mistakes.” And in case his own perfections weren’t clear enough, he boasted of mastering “the hardest instrument in the world to play.” Thankfully the tight time constraints of the festival (30 minute sets) left the Juan Maclean little time for onstage banter. Instead they pummeled the crowd with driving beats, skittish synthesizer lines, and introspective meditations on love.
Naturally, dance frenzy ensued. Maclean was impressive on his Theremin—an early electronic instrument played without physically touching it—sounding more precise and liberated on it since last seeing the group. Drummer Jerry Fuchs was punishing and effective behind his kit and Nancy Whang continually proves to be the perfectly earnest counterpoint to Maclean’s brashness. Rain was left to fall on subsequent band 33hz, and previous group Shy Love gained a Middle-Eastern flair to their otherwise keytar heavy songs with a live sax player. Overall the industrial setting of the Old American Can Factory was strangely intimate, lending the outdoor stage a fraternal prison-yard feel.