[9 October 2011]
Seeing the venerable electronic artist Daedelus perform live in the United States two years ago was an experience to note. It was the end of South by Southwest and the artist played in a tightly packed, sweaty tent in Austin, Texas, where fans danced on top of each other in the thick of the midnight heat. Exactly one year and a half later this past Friday on September 22, I caught Daedelus for a second time, but in a more aired-out music venue in the hip quarter of Dresden, Germany.
The Scheune is on Dresden’s main street of the “younger” part of the city. The venue booked Daedelus for an hour-long headlining set following a local three-part DJ dub group, Potschappel Underground. Knowing how consistently popular Daedelus is among music fans of various genres in the US, I was curious to see what the crowd would be like in Dresden. The venue took a couple hours to fill up and eventually hold around 200 people toward the end of the opening set. Potschappel presented a solid blend of samples and records with a mellowed-out dub feel, including LTJ Bukem, Boards of Canada, and Arovane. Being fans of Daedelus themselves, the trio was proud to open for the American musician:
“That was an incredible performance. Daedelus hit the audience with some thick, dark storm clouds in the form of music—something I really hadn’t imagined or expected because I own records of his that sound a lot calmer. I think he matched the exact energy of the crowd, which was shown by how much the fans in the first few rows couldn’t stop moving.” said Thomas Neugebauer from Potschappel.
Wearing a signature turquoise penguin tuxedo, Daedelus took the stage at 11. The crowd instantly appeared more alive, moving to Daedelus’ live sample trigger device and a custom-built software package. With each touch of the musician’s hands, waves of new sounds were released into the dance room. Feeding off the audience’s energy, Daedelus managed a continuous, smooth set of colorful and contrasting sounds from classical romantic strings, to heavy bass, to more upbeat techno. The artist’s twitchy, enthusiastic energy was juxtaposed with clean on-stage aesthetics of tall, brassy candlesticks and blocks of hanging, white backdrop illuminating timed projections.
Daedelus’ music takes listeners to another place of imagination: at some moments during the night, the show’s general presentation and Daedelus’ weaving of the lighter, romantic themes evoked visions of old Slavic folklore, where the woods and all-things mysterious would easily be complemented by such sounds. Considering the location of the show (Dresden lies in east Germany, close to the Czech border), these evocations felt even more appropriate.
Ending his set sharply at midnight, Daedelus meaningfully thanked the crowd and exited the stage. It was clear the audience wanted more, but granted the artist played for an hour straight with absolutely no breaks, no one was dissatisfied with the night. Daedelus will be continuing his European tour and heading up to Great Britain for the first week of October.