Concert Review: Wolfgang Gartner at Mansion, December 12

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I went to Mansion on Saturday night in order to find out what's happened to electro house. This energetic style, blended with equal parts electro and indie dance rock, exploded on the international scene in 2006 but lost most of its edge within two years; it was seemingly extinguished by the same intensity that made it exciting to begin with.

So I went to Mansion to find out whether Wolfgang Gartner, one of the most talented and forward-thinking exponents of electro house, could rock the South Beach venue hard enough to make me forget that I was paying $9 for a beer.

As soon as you enter club Mansion you make your way through this antechamber where Top 40 hip-hop plays all night, at times competing and interfering with the sound system in the main room, where the EDM DJs preside.

Saturday's opening set by DJ Laurent Simeca

exemplified the style of upbeat trance-infused commercial house that

has become ubiquitous in South Beach and popular big-room nightclubs

around the world. Lots of epic buildups, sweeping breakdowns and trite

melodic motifs, like in a trancey remix of "New Year's Day" by U2, the

patron saints of cheesy anthemic music.

Gartner came on around

2 a.m. and took no time in getting down to business with an energetic

first half hour of percussive funked-up techno and new electro house.


the more he played, the more he began to enter into unacceptably

spoiled territory. Originals like his opulent, quasi-comical fidget

remix of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 or "Yin" (with Francis Preve) -- an

intense and infectious acid techno number -- hinted at the slick

production skills and groove mastery that have made Gartner an

undeniable force in EDM. But when he got around to playing his remix of

the insipid "Heartbreaker" by MSTRKRFT and John Legend, it pretty much

confirmed the fact that like most of the "it" producers that made

electro house big a couple years back, Gartner has jumped on the

commercial bandwagon.

More than any other electro house hit of 2009,

that track seems to illustrate how electro house went wrong and got

sold out to the Top 40 mainstream, thereby squandering its own

innovative potential.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I'm never going to quit reiterating the superiority of cutting-edge underground dance music over the Beatport top 100 shit.

Random Detail: The only people really dancing at Mansion on Saturday night were the girls that get paid to do so.

By the Way: Fedde le Grand, another big name in electro house, is booked to play at Mansion on Saturday, December 19.   

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