Moby served up a rocking set of classic breaks and house Friday night at the Natural History Museum’s season finale of Fader magazine’s One Step Beyond party. The sound system was ridonculous and fully satisfied my overwhelming addiction to gargantuan basslines. Also thrown into the deal was the most absurd ‘made for people tripping on acid’ planetarium light show I’ve ever seen.
I totally blew it getting there and accidentally took the A train express to 125th street, a mistake I haven’t made since moving to NYC. So I got there a little later than I wanted to, but was early enough to catch the end of the Activaire DJ’s. They were laying down some atmospheric IDM and both the Activaire DJs and the crowd seemed to be in ‘I just got here and am working on my first drink’ mode. But the heady beats fit quite nicely with that vibe.
I am not really sure if Martin Morscrop is a bald guitarrist as the interweb would have me believe, or if it is the duo of a lady with a Kaoss pad and a buttoned down fellow with a laptop and keyboard. Either way the force is strong with them.
The first few songs they played had that extended spaced out disco feel that a lot of the DFA remixes have- epic songs with deep hypnotic basslines. The second part of their set was pure late 70’s disco, which was danceable but wasn’t melting my face off, and I enjoyed the first half of their set more.
Next up was Holy Ghost! of DFA records. It looked like only 1/2 of the Holy Ghost duo was present, and I have to be honest in that I didn’t catch much of the set as I took this opportunity to go to the planetarium show. I had seen the planetarium movie several times before and was expecting to see a Robert Redford narrate as asteriods collide and stars explode overhead.
But nope, no Cosmic Collisions that night. Instead, the most belligerent planeterium crowd on record sat back in rumble seats and were treated to a dare I say it, psychedelic light show. I couldn’t believe that a producer at the museum actually greenlit this thing. In the grand tradition of ‘Pink Floyd Laser Shows,’ trippy visuals bombarded us on the dome-like ceiling above as the music of U2, Prodigy, Soundgarden, David Bowie, and even some PLUR trance came at us from all angles. Think fractals. Think posters from the set of ‘That 70’s Show.’ Think Lava Lamps. Then take all that imagery and have some 3-D propellor head create abstract 3-D enviroments to fly through, and maybe you’ll scratch the surface of how ridiculous this was. First we were flying through a reef as neon fish danced around us. Then we were on a roller coaster, but in space! At one point 3 gigantic chrome figures about 20 or 30 feet tall whose bodies were made of assorted segmented heart shapes danced to trance music while waving glowsticks around. Really. During the finale, eyeballs dripped from the ceiling and winked at everyone, then gemstones burst from every orafice. It was epic and absurd all at the same time. It defied all rational explanation, but in a good way…. I think.
Upon descending from the depths of the giant sphere that is the planetarium, I saw that Moby had taken the stage. Hells yeah! Moby was laying down a solid set of old school breaks and house and made it seem effortless. Moby mastered the art of DJing literally decades ago, and his set of cherrypicked bangers showed how deep his knowledge of making a dancefloor rock really goes. He’s kind of like a kung fu master that lives on a mountain top, and every now and then has to come down off the mountain and remind people how much of a bad ass his Shaolin style really is. Only instead of kicking people’s teeth in with his preying mantis pose like a kung fu master, Moby plays records.
He dropped tracks from Underworld, Basement Jaxx, a breaks mix of Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin, and a whole bunch of party rockers I couldn’t place. As far as I could tell he only played 1 or 2 of his own songs. I snapped a few photos and then headed straight for the bass crates and danced in front of the speakers the rest of the time, trying to make the most of a rare and short piece of dancefloor goodness. It was a bit odd as the crowd consisted of a lot of popped collars and high heeled girls ready for the clubs in the West Village, rather than a bunch of crunchy Birkenstock wearing veggie veges, as Moby’s politics might dictate. But I kind of liked the fact that all these random people were getting down to all of these classic tracks that they hadn’t heard before.
All in all, a rocking season closer to one of my favorite events in NYC.
–DJ Rex Manning Day