Laurent Garnierat Avaland @ Avalon, November 17
It was well after 2 a.m. when Laurent Garnier dropped the Mousse T. vs. Eraserhead remix of Shakedown’s club hit “Love Game,” featuring a cloud of guitars so thick that it permeated through every body in the packed-to-the-wall crowd at Avaland. Every few bars, the careful listener could detect a familiar one-off beat that could prompt one to exclaim, “Mon Dieu, is he really going to play that next?” And when Garnier finally followed up “Love Game” with “Blue Monday,” even the guys who couldn’t keep their hands to themselves hoisted their arms in the air and shouted with glee. There was no obvious reason for Garnier to select this piece — he didn’t sneak away for a bathroom break during the song’s seven-plus minutes, and there was certainly no need for him to try to entice the crowd with a (nearly) 25-year-old New Order classic — but he did. And when he did, he doubled up on the easily identifiable beat and filled out the breakdown with a tribal drum-heavy instrumental, which he quickly segued into “Beat Connection,” the B-side off LCD Soundsystem’s first single.
Garnier, the French DJ who began his career at Manchester’s famed nightclub The Haçienda, is a master of the eclectic style preferred on L.A. dance floors, splicing together Afro-Caribbean–influenced house with Detroit techno and indie dance-club hits. But unlike so many cross-genre DJs, Garnier played with purpose. He was not juxtaposing styles in an attempt to keep the weekend warriors screaming “I love this song!” but because it was something that we, the crowd, needed to hear. Garnier is as much an educator as he is a party starter, using percussive similarities and common production details to link together seemingly disparate tracks and, judging from the crowd responses, opening minds in the process.
Key to Garnier’s success behind the decks was his own obvious enthusiasm. As the only person on the floor with more than a square inch of dancing space, Garnier bounced around the booth, shaking his hair back and forth over his face as he moved his arms to conduct the crowd’s synchronized movement. He furiously twiddled knobs, pushing the crowd to reach its euphoric apex before simply allowing a track or two to roll undisturbed until he began the whole process again. Ultimately, Garnier’s set made this night more of an exercise in stamina than in trainspotting, which is the clearest sign of a good party.