There is no better way to charge hard into America’s birthday than spending a Tuesday night at the Independent seeing two amazing NYC electronic acts put a charge into a shoulder-to-shoulder, sold out crowd. My playlists are filthy with tracks from both The Knocks and ASTR, so I tried to keep my expectations low before the show, but honestly, both acts brought their “A game” and did not disappoint.
First up was ASTR touring on their recent EP Varsity. I was first seduced by their sound when I heard the killer cover of Drake’s “Hold On We’re Going Home.” Vocalist Zoe ASTR (Silverman) and Producer Adam ASTR (Pallin) pull off the unimaginable: taking a Drake song and making me not tired of it, with intricate beats and deeply soulful lyrics. I highly recommend you listen to the full Varsity EP front to back. Adam is an experienced and skilled producer, and the songs are just plain fun. The background of the duo is also super interesting too, you can read about it here in the Village Voice.
Seeing ASTR live is a true experience. Zoe is all over the place, singing, dancing, connecting with the crowd, and whipping her ponytail to the rhythm. Adam provides constant and complex beats from the shadows with his menacing afro. It reminded me a lot of another personal favorite, AlunaGeorge, with strong beats and a high energy front-woman by whom you can’t help but be entranced. After their set, I was ready for anything.
To get a sense of the music they are writing check out “Operate:”
Next up was The Knocks. I love The Knocks and you should too. I wish I could just end there, because honestly, the music speaks for itself. The tracks this NYC duo has been putting out for the past few years are, (in this asshole’s humble opinion), some of the best original electronic music out there. It’s the type of electronic music that isn’t pretending to be anything but a party. It is there to make you move to the beat and get lost in soulful lyrics.
Live on stage, it is also all about the music. Ben “B-Roc” Ruttner and James “JPatt” Patterson perform in the shadows, wearing matching shirts from their tour with the spotlights generally focused on the dancing crowd in front of them. Making music together since college, the duo has real musical talent. Some electronic acts fall on their face when they are forced to step out from behind a computer, but Ruttner hammered away on the drum kit, and Patterson, (‘sup we might be cousins), was slappin’ a mean bass. They both also sing, especially JPatt who was very impressive live.
Beyond their musical skill, part of what makes the group so successful is their ability to tap some of the best collaborators out there. From St Lucia, to Ra Ra Riot, to X Ambassadors, they are great at making talented friends. Their new EP Comfortable is only four songs but each is incredible in its own way and paves the way to what will likely be a huge upcoming album.
I can’t pick just one song so listen to this collection of their original music: