Dance Your Face Off: Birdy Nam Nam and MONSTA

Waking up after four hours of sleep with your knees swollen and bruised because they were constantly banging up against the stage while you absorbed the sublime audiochemistry concocted by four DJs lined up in a row – that’s how you know you’ve had a solid Wednesday night.

This is Birdy Nam Nam’s mesmerizing “Black Bird Cloud,” which I can’t seem to stop listening to this week:


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I went to see the OWSLA tour at Wrongbar, which is conveniently a quick bus ride south from my house to Queen Street West. First, I drank some deliciously free wine with Leah, as my current place of employment has a habit of giving booze away on a shockingly regular basis. Then, I showed up at the venue and wove my way to the front just as the four dudes from Birdy Nam Nam took the stage (which is not very high, as my opening paragraph insinuates, so we were about five feet way from the amicable Frenchmen).

OWSLA, which I suppose I should mention includes the ubiquitous Skrillex, has signed a bunch of cool artists, including Birdy Nam Nam and MONSTA and Nick Thayer, the dudes who were playing at Wrongbar. I hadn’t heard of the latter two, but Julien told me about the turntable stylings of Birdy Nam Nam years ago. They have matured a lot since then.

Confession: yesterday I went to my first concert alone.

It is strange to realize that I had never done that before, but I generally like sharing those unique concert experiences with friends. It makes the memories more real, somehow, to have someone to get nostalgic with about stealing a set list bedecked with neon pink duct tape from Interpol. Or reaching through one hundred hands to snatch a white rose thrown by Amy Millan from Stars out of the air. Or almost losing a shoe in a mosh pit at Metropolis while the lead singer from Bloc Party climbs the speakers. Or having Steve Aoki spray multiple bottles of champagne over you.

Going to a concert solo was not weird or awkward or boring, as I had feared. It makes sense, though: everyone else was there to bask in the warm glow that music creates out of the dark, dull void that life would generally be otherwise. People were smiling, excited, anticipatory. I have tried to describe this phenomenon before and failed, but music has the power to conjure a temporary camaraderie between strangers that becomes almost palpable.

Birdy Nam Nam played an amazing set, and they were clearly thrilled with the crowd’s response. The front group was comprised entirely of French people, and they vigorously waved their flag the whole time. The nice woman named Camille who was rocking out beside me was also French, although she emphasized that she had also come alone to see the set and didn’t know the others. We joined the rest in chanting “Un autre!” when they started unplugging cords and shutting laptops, but to no avail.

The DJs were all milling around afterward in the confusion of gathering their equipment, so I took the opportunity to tell the one closest to me (the bald guy) that Canadians love French people and they played an amazing set. He muttered something vaguely positive that may have been a “Tank you!” or a “Fuck you,” but I’m going to assume it was the first one.

The next set was MONSTA, which was comprised of two guys who looked about twenty having fun playing dubby dubby dubstep. A third man took over the microphone for a few songs and had a presence that sucked all of the energy in the bar towards him like an unforgiving black hole. I wasn’t blown away when checking out their music beforehand, but consider me impressed after that performance. I won’t even link to a video, because it won’t do this guy’s phenomenal voice justice.

Nick Thayer was next up, but I couldn’t stay for his set since it was already after 2 a.m. I did catch his inspired remix of Flux Pavillion’s “Bass Cannon” before I slipped out the door though, and it made my heart twinge a little thinking about the many times we played that song full blast at parties in Vienna. I caught the last bus of the night, thanks to the vigilant bus driver who pulled over to pick me up between stops. It would have been a long walk home.

This video of “Goin’ In” (Skrillex remix) makes Birdy Nam Nam look pretty cool (and eternally French, as it were). Picture that energy contained in a tiny bar:

That’s two awesome Wednesday concerts in a row. New tradition?

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