Ikonika Live, Ikonika CMJSometime before midnight on July 27, a friend of mine casually trainspotted the uplifting house beat of Julio Bashmore’s recent 12″ “Au Seve” from outside the Cove in Brooklyn, NY. In the four or five hours that followed the resident DJ’s set, UK heavyweights Ikonika, Oneman and Jam City cranked out dance hit after dance hit, which made the Turrbotax party’s third year anniversary blowout something like a humid, club-based easter egg hunt for trainspotting DJ fans.
Rinse FM jock and primo selector Oneman offered up the most fodder for attentive listeners. Fans of the DJ’s sessions on Rinse or his very bumpin’ Fabriclive 64 mix wouldn’t be surprised or disappointed by his picks, which were both eclectic and familiar. Unless my notes are mistaken, he whipped through cuts by James Blake, Tweet, SBTRKT, Juicy J, TNGHT and Zomby, and if you’ve ever Google image searched the guy, you can imagine what that might look like. Oneman jerked his head violently to the stilted beat of “Harlem Shake” (which I’m pretty sure he mashed together with Nicki Minaj’s “Did It On Em”), wagged his finger while mouthing along to Beyonce’s “Videophone,” and generally jumped around like a wind-up toy or a happy puppy.
Oneman wasn’t the only performer to drop “Harlem Shake,” and he also wasn’t alone in throwing down some cuts from Girl Unit’s Club Rez EP. In fact, all three headlining DJs played a Girl Unit tune, which one of my fiends found impressive because the beats can be hard to mix. In certain contexts, hearing the same track or artist several times in a night would be unacceptable. When I go out to see Maya Jane Coles or Marcel Dettmann spin, I only want to recognize one song from the entire set, at most. Oneman is an entirely different case: He always plays the hits, and it always works, which might have something to do with the fact that Oneman is a radio DJ who plays club music.
On the other hand, Ikonika and Jam City are responsible for making the tunes a radio host like Oneman might play (and so it only makes sense that Oneman fired off with “How We Relate To The Body” not long before Jam took over the booth—at least, I think it was that song). Ikonika peppered her set with selections from her recent I Make Lists EP, which can be a grating record to listen to on headphones. But when she has the chance the put the big-room synths on the title track in the context of the intense drum programming in her live show and work the sound system’s levels herself, the trancey melody makes a lot more sense.