Grand Central, Miami
Saturday, June 16
Better Than: Being at Pawn Shop or Studio A.
If you went to parties like Revolver, Poplife, and Spiderpussy during the mid-2000s, you are probably familiar with Digitalism. Along with Justice, MSTRKRFT, and a slew of other electro-house and dance-rock acts, they seemed to take what everyone considered to be electronic dance music and turn it on its head. It was edgier, harder, and, most importantly, fun.
Justice, of course, went on to become icons of the genre, still headlining major music festivals today -- including an appearance at this year's Ultra Music Festival. And while Digitalism is still pushing plenty of dancefloor-ready tunes, they never became EDM deities like Justice. And what a shame that is.
If Digitalism is anything, it's consistent. They came out of the gates strong with debut Idealism, and followed it up with another stellar effort, I Love You Dude. Now they're about to drop a DJ-Kicks compilation and they've still got plenty of know-how to keep partygoers dancing. Same can't be said for Justice's amazing debut, Cross, and lackluster follow-up Audio, Video, Disco.
While Saturday's appearance at Grand Central was unfortunately a DJ set (make sure you add "see Digitalism live" to your bucket list), Jence and Isi gave the crowd a set that perfectly summed up the last 12 years of dance music. It was hard. It was danceable. It had house music. It had electro. It was fucking great.
We were surprised by the crowd's reaction to the duo's earliest hits "Idealistic" and "Zdarlight" (see "Things Music Snobs Say") mainly because the crowd was young, and most must've been in middle school when these tracks bubbled up from the underground.
But Digitalism kept it fresh by playing new stuff off the DJ-Kicks compilation (and, so far, unavailable elsewhere) including "A New Drug" and "Simply Dead." The former is a scuzzy electro effort that reminded us a bit of Daft Punk's "Robot Rock."
Speaking of Daft Punk, Digitalism knows no electro-house set is complete without a track from the robotic duo. Cue in "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger," the sleeper track from 2001's Discovery that thanks to Kanye West has become a party cliché at this point. But we were enjoying the flashbacks to our early 20s too much to care.
Another oddball was Zombie Nation's "Kernkraft 400." Some of us wondered if Digitalism played it as a sort of wink and nudge to our own "Miami Zombie." We wanted to ask the duo if that was the case once their set was over, but never got the chance.
Once Jence and Isi dropped their biggest hit, the indie-rocktastic "Pogo," we were sure the night was over, but we were told the venue asked them if they wanted to call it quits and they said, "Hell no!" So the music kept on.
Personal Bias: I want to say a snobby thing like "I was listening to Digitalism before they were cool" but I'll refrain.
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The Crowd: Definitely too young to have been of age to have attended Miami's slew of indie-dance parties that popped up at the turn of the century and where electro-house took hold.
Overheard in the Crowd: "We should do a Zombie Nation remix with Lil Jon screaming 'Eat your fucking face off!' as the hook."