I saw Darkside live for the first time last week at the Palace, right before they headed off to Coachella. I’m a big Nicolas Jaar fan, so I was pretty disappointed to have missed his impromptu set at the Mercat the night before. It’s not as though Darkside were my second choice but I really was just unaware of how moved I’d be at the end of it all.
I arrived at the venue just minutes before they stepped on stage, because I chose to rely on my own sense of direction instead of Google Maps. If at this point you’re stroking your chin wondering ‘which box do I even slot this directionless, Jaar faninto?’ – I’d say it’s the one labelled ‘House and Techno’. I’m one of those people who rarely listens to anything else and it’s the reason why I don’t tend to see much live music. It’s a shame really but Darkside offer the security of Jaar plus heart felt riffs so I could have my cake and eat it live too.
You know what’s also a shame? How little I cared about Darkside before I saw them. I mean, I felt like I was supposed to be a fan but that’s about as far as things went for me. I thought Darkside were a left of field side project, typically aimed at people like me who fear straying away from the comforting embrace of house and techno music but like to be a little adventurous – just as long as a producer I already know and love is signed up. For the first time in a very long time, I was so unquestionably wrong.
Within minutes of stepping foot into the venue, Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington had stepped onto the stage. Smoke blanketed their shadowy figures and bright lights accosted the crowd but it wasn’t enough to make anyone look away. I stole a moment to take a look at the crowd. Doofers, normies, Melbourne cool kids, club runners and owners, young, old and the non-descript had all sold out this venue to see a duo who had so seamlessly destroyed the genre-divided music scene I had become so accustomed to.
The synths writhed against the guitars riffs gently like velvet, and as Jaar and Harrington faced each other for most of the set it was as though we were all looking in to something very private. It felt special, intimate and it all happened with 1,854 other people in the one room. The initial excitement turned into realisation and I realised that this is the kind of music I’ll one day show my kids. I’ll proudly and lamely say “hey, you know I saw these boys live in the summer of 2014” and they won’t roll their eyes at me but will be mildly impressed. Maybe I’ll pop out a couple of EDM suckers who will cheesily tell journalists that their mum’s Darkside records turned them onto music.
They continued to seduce the crowd with one beautiful song after another. Teasing the crowd with the Rhodes piano from Freak Go Home was a little cheeky of them but it so perfectly encapsulated how the art of building a DJ set could be brought to a live platform. The transcendental disco, acid power riffs and what my boyfriend would call “tasteful shredding” all accumulated into one magnificent performance that I hope to never forget.
If you want to know what I’m talking about, you should probably sneak a peak at their Coachella performance.