Four Tet: 13 March 2009 - New York City, American Museum of Natural History
The Fader’s monthly music series at the American Museum of Natural History, “One Step Beyond”, has declared itself as the place to “see and be seen under the stars” while watching “dynamic visuals” and listening to live music and DJs. At least they got the “under the stars” part right; the museum’s Rose Center for Earth and Space is unparalleled in its modern resplendence.
Aside from the aeronautic-themed atrium nothing else seemed to quite percolate the space. Which isn’t to say Kieren Hebden’s performance (a.k.a. Four Tet) was weak. In fact it was penetrating and dense but light and euphoric, examples of his best traits. But Hebden’s role seemed naturally hindered by the event’s gaudy constraints: Constellations of cocktail tables encouraging static reactions to the energetic music; competing and conflicting videos projected on myriad surfaces; and a crowd whose dichotomy consisted of enthusiastic participants and listless apathetic but aspiring attendees. The latter debilitated the mood most, as there was an awkwardness of conflicting factions.
On the makeshift dance floor (between galactic displays) Hedben sounded patient and balanced. Though he mostly played tracks from his latest Ringer EP, i.e. “Ringer”, “Ribbons”, and “Swimmer”, he also tossed in some older classics, like “Smile Around The Face”. Hebden also flaunted his Tenori-On instrument, decorating the tops of songs with its gimmicky Lite-Brite appeal.
Standing in the dance floor’s nadir (directly under the anchored, and colossal, IMAX orb) the sound was awesome. Though muddled and amorphous in the hall’s surrounding lacunae, on the dance floor the bass throbbed in a visceral pulse while the treble was like its clear conscience. I hadn’t experienced a bass sound so completely consuming since Chicago’s Smart Bar. Paired with the museum’s sci-fi surroundings, it was a pleasant moment to totally lose oneself in.