Photos by Nina Barry.
On May 23rd, we braved the hard-partying investment bankers and overpriced loft-dwellers of LoDo to spend the night at Beta. The draw was Moderat, a new musical collaboration whose identity is forged by an obvious portmanteau (Modeselektor and Apparat) and some considerably more creative compositions.
Some might dip greedy fingers into the hyperbolic cookie jar and call the trio a supergroup, but that’s a stretch (if a well intentioned one). While both acts command the utmost respect from their fans and peers in a certain scene–the odd Pitchfork fawn notwithstanding–their appeal to a larger, crossover audience is slim to none. In this case, that is nothing if not a good thing, ensuring that their music remains smart and uncompromising.
As it turned out, the douchebag ratio that had been so high outside Beta’s doors proved to be drastically lower inside; if Moderat has a posse, they had showed up in force. Beta itself has gained national renown for its impressive audiovisual setup (and rightfully so), its powerful beams of light and foundation-rattling bass booms facilitating a general reverie. The ambience was pervaded by a sense of incurable ease, the flashy breakdancing kid equally at home as the shoulder-swaying wallflower. Their house DJ–that is, their house house DJ–was passable as he commanded center stage, but those seeking dance nourishment lapped up the overlong edits.
What a relief, then, when Moderat finally took to their machines–but what a shame that, instead of being placed at the head of the club’s dance floor altar beneath an ample video screen, Beta decided to place the three men underneath the second floor balcony overhang, thereby ensuring that the faithful in attendance would be treated to neither a good view of the performers nor an unobstructed perspective on the sensational visuals which accompany their set. This point cannot be belabored enough: the club robbed their concertgoers of one of the richest visual presentations that I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness, and one which you should sample over at Moderat’s site.
So the arrangements were unfortunate, but through no fault of Moderat’s own, and while I was nonplussed by the setup, the dutiful Germans didn’t miss a beat. (Indeed, they didn’t seem to notice or mind their cramped quarters in the least.) Instead, they gave their fans more than they bargained for, dishing out enthusiastic helpings of tracks from their new debut, spicing things up with the occasional live vocals.
Moderat’s chemistry was immediately evident. The trio worked together without strain and with brio, working nimble fingers across synthesizer keyboards and a myriad of buttons and switches protruding from esoteric electrified boxes. Behind them, the visual accompaniment unfolded in a projected triptych, its narrative an abstract journey though polygonal worlds and more satiny, organic scenes. Cell phone cameras blinked their perfect eyes as everyone tried to take a piece of the montage home.
It was, quite simply, a success, both conceptually and in practice–a great way to spend a night in the wrong part of town.