The Juan MacLean Takes Over Dim Mak Studios
Once again DFA Records has found itself in the streets of Hollywood. Pat Mahoney, co-founder and drummer of LCD Soundsystem, and The Juan MacLean performed at Dim Mak Studios last night with support from Urulu, Dirty Dave, and club resident Bones.
For those not familiar, DFA Records is a Brooklyn based label co-founded by LCD frontman James Murphy, and is known for signing some of the most elite underground indie and disco artists today. John MacLean, the brains of former live band gone solo act The Juan MacLean, has earned a great deal of respect among fellow DJ’s, becoming one of the most acclaimed names in vinyl spinners. Aside from an unmistakable niche on the turntables, his role as a producer may even supersede that. Colleague and friend Nancy Whang collaborated with John on the hit “Happy House“, which had a large effect on his chart presence at the time. His single “Feels So Good” (a serious heater) remains a frequently circulated classic across the globe, and one of our Top 20 originals in the 2000-2010 decade. In addition to the entries in his discography, he is responsible for producing a substantial amount of tracks for fellow artists on the label. Truly his own brand of DJ, his taste for vintage funk and disco and energetic live mixing are key factors in making him one of the most entertaining electronic acts one can see in a live setting.
The attendance at Dim Mak was particularly small for an ages 18+ electronic show, which was interesting when considering the turn out for past DFA oriented events in the area (however it was a little depressing when thinking of how well the TRAP shows out here do). Fortunately this didn’t affect our headliner’s performance any and they proceeded very accordingly with unexpected intimacy. Dirty Dave surprisingly played a fairly decent set and completed his task as an opener with more grace than most. He switched over to The Juan MacLean around 11pm, who opened up with Penguin Prison’s Multi-Millionaire (Pete Herbert Club Mix), immediately setting the tone for what’s to come.
What followed was pleasantly intense. Right after the introductory segue I could tell something different was going to happen. The set’s atmosphere was rich in deep/tech house, descending into perpetual notes of disco grooves as a base. A lot of the tracks featured a strong focus on female vocals, something trademarked in his own original productions and past DJ sets. Although it was the most house music I have seen either him or Pat Mahoney play, especially with the tasteful disco both perform adamantly and which the record label is predominately founded upon, Juan played all the right sounds and with all the right class a DFA superstar would.
I would attribute the content of the set to the location; being in Hollywood and playing in Steve Aoki’s spot, I can see where the house would be appropriate. Contrary to any assumption that MacLean is just another mass produced stage puppet for taking this change in direction live, the track selection was choice. If he was in fact trying to adapt to the setting, far away from his underground empire of New York, he only did so in a small amount. This was no dime-a-dozen Los Angeles house gig. The tracks had a minuscule line between disco and club music genres and always held a hometown funk rhythm to fluently guide them. Although Juan strayed from a vintage 70’s selection and veered into more extrinsic beats, it was still executed in classic form. We’re suckers for a properly filtered blend of disco mixed with early millennia club-house, and when you pit those characteristics with someone with as much experience on the decks as The Juan, the payoff is explosive.
Indeed the show was different from anything I’ve heard either of the two do in the past, but at the same time it wasn’t, and this is because of the level of expertise they possess. They could spin anything and their signatures will still radiate through the speakers. All that Pat and MacLean did last night was took their Brooklyn style confidence and applied it to old school house grooves and beat patterns, and that accents LA. The quality that puts these veterans in a different class is that they treat the turntables as a true instrument and tool for bringing lost and forgotten tracks back on the public’s radar. DFA Records is just the dose of class the streets of Hollywood need to get these kids free from the restraints of the overplayed and overly mundane sounds of Hardwell or Skrillex that the City of Angels embraces so fully.
The Juan MacLean DJ set at Dim Mak Studios 7/10
Posted on December 20, 2012, in Show Reviews, Show/Venue Reviews and tagged DFA, dim mak, disco, house, Pat Mahoney, penguin prison, The Juan MacLean, youtube. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.