7/25/14

Jon Hopkins - Live @ Mezzanine

Recently I went to see Jon Hopkins at Mezzanine with my buddy Shingo. I’ve been a fan of Hopkins for about a year and a half now. His music has a wonderfully natural way of building up and entrancing the listener, taking your mind far away to a different place and time, or perhaps, to a difference place and time within your own mind. I find it excellent for long runs. Very deep, advanced stuff. So to say I was excited to see him live is an understatement.

We got there pretty early, a little bit after doors opened as not to miss anything and also grab a good close spot on the main floor. It’s fun to see all of the people enter the club and feel the energy and anticipation build.

Teebs, the opener, was ayt; I’ve heard some his stuff on his soundcloud so it was cool to catch him live. The floor was a little empty during the set, with lots of people still filing in and getting their drinks at the bar. He happily played a few tunes (he seemed like a nice and happy dude) and then the stage went dark for an interlude. This is when people started packing the dance floor in anticipation of the headliner.

Jon Hopkins came on to much applause and palpable eagerness from the audience. As the stage lights lit him, a young man standing near me said “oh my god he’s so handsome.” It’s true, Hopkins has cut features and dashing looks, but electronic music isn’t about how hot you are, it’s about how hot you sound.
Hopkins did not disappoint.

He started out kind of mellow, letting the audience settle in at their own pace. Slowly things accelerated and like a waking dream my mind’s eye started to create imagery for what I was hearing. I gently rocked to the rhythm, eyes closed, and Shingo leaned in and said “a woman walking down a hallway in a fluttering dress, except instead of walls there are trains moving in opposite directions.” This was a pretty spot on way to describe what I was seeing and hearing: layers of consistent movement around a central set of drums forming a structure that moved like curtains in a light breeze. Fluttering, developing, deepening…

photo by Instagram user yungpeng

All around me everyone I saw was on the same level. Hopkins was making magic, entrancing us, and just as we began to settle into a singular groove, he began increasing the energy level. Before you knew it everyone was moving along with the beats, with some of the more enthusiastic audience members jumping around a little bit. The beats became more austere, pronounced, powerful. It felt more like something you could move to, and so I moved. Shingo leaned in and said, “Fog over trees with bare branches.”

Carefully Hopkins began to build his masterpiece right before our eyes and ears. With incredible detail and technical prowess he started a long crescendo. Tempos increased, samples got wilder, layers thickened. I felt somehow taken by this music, energized and hypnotized and captured by it, at one moment in a trance and then without realizing it jumping for joy. I have only experienced this specific sensation once before, back in March when I saw Shpongle at the Regency.

The performance was thrilling to witness and by the time his encore was done Hopkins had played for a perfect hour and five minutes to the delight of the crowd. After high-fiving some fellow enthusiastic audience members, we got the hell out of there, in an awed state of disbelief of what we had just experienced. I love having my mind blown.

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