The format of the Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival doesn’t suit the nature of DJ sets very well. To be fair, the same could be said for any multi-stage, DJ-oriented event. DJ sets are best enjoyed at length, and multi-venue festivals encourage partygoers to bounce from showcase to showcase. It’s hard to get immersed in a set when you know there are two or three other stellar artists going at it a few blocks away and you feel pressured to catch a bit of each one.
In a way, that’s a good problem to have—it means BEMF had stocked a stellar lineup. On the first night, festivalgoers were forced to choose among lingering around Public Assembly for Omar S, Jackmaster and Deadboy, dropping in on Photek and Gold Panda next door, heading down the block to witness several Fade To Mind representatives or popping in across the street to catch Brenmar, Braille, Metro Area and Mykki Blanco. I had plans to dart in and out of each but made the mistake of starting at Public Assembly, where Detroit house guru and FXHE label boss Omar S was churning out a lengthy set. The energy and music could be summed up in two fashion-related details: Omar was wearing a fedora, and some guy in the audience was wearing a Wild Oats shirt.
Jackmaster kept up the stream of gripping selections when he took over the decks, queuing up several MK tunes, a Todd Terje roller and Bicep’s deep house throwback-turned-2012-dancefloor-hit “Vision Of Love.” His was a mostly uptempo and disco-influenced set, as jacking and careening as one would hope, judging from his Fabriclive compilation. Disco reigned across the street at Cameo Gallery as well, where Metro Area conducted a densely packed audience lit up by pinpricks of laser lights.
The next night featured simultaneous sets by Pearson Sound, Shlohmo, and Nicolas Jaar (although I heard Nicolas Jaar was moved to a different set time to decrease the amount of competition). While L.A.’s bass darling ground out grumbling low end in Public Assembly’s hazy front room, the Hessle Audio label boss mixed chunky beats by the likes of Kowton and Somore across the way. His set followed a live appearance from BBC radio host Benji B and bubbling New York-based producer/DJ Falty DL. Falty had started up the night with deep, lush vibes—I remember him playing a Floating Points—and Benji B followed with a set much like his weekly radio show: hip-hop, bass-heavy bangers and the occasional vocal input from the jockey himself.
See more photos of the event here.