For romantics, summer in Paris is the place to be. For the music lover, you will be hard-pressed to beat the options found in New York City on an average night. Last night, history was made as legendary electronic duo, Basement Jaxx, made their return to New York City for the group's first show in the city in 10 years. They are in the midst of a short round of gigs that has taken them to cities like Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, where they performed at the Hollywood Bowl, and Denver. Last night, the group brought their live band to perform in Central Park at Summerstage, where they were joined by Fei Fei, Masters At Work and The Internet.
The evening kicked off earlier then expected at 6 p.m. instead of the listed 7 p.m., which was apparent by the crowds that arrived closer to 8 p.m. The night was dominated by funk, soul and house music.
The Internet got things very soulful as the sun was starting to set with selections from their album, Ego Death, which was just released on Monday. They turned over the reigns to veteran house DJs, Masters at Work, comprised of "Little" Louise Vega and Kenny "Dope" Gonzalez, at around 7:30. The crowd started to fill in more and the shufflers started to move their feet as Masters At Work started to get down to business. Fans of 1990s house music are familiar with the duo who were the at the top of the game, producing and remixing records in the 1990s and early 2000s for the likes of Michael Jackson, Madonna, Donna Summer and more. Many of those classics were rinsed out during their set as well as some newer tunes to keep the younger kids engaged.
However great the openers were, everybody was there for one reason -- to see the return of Basement Jaxx and their live band to New York City. You could tell that many people had been waiting to see this for a long time as their were some older folks who even brought along their kids to introduce them to some quality classics.
The live band appeared at 8:45 to kick off the show with two drummers, a trumpet player and two singers, though that number would fluctuate over the course of the performance, Simon Ratcliffe on guitar and Felix Buxton manning the DJ equipment and keyboards.
The group delivered a career-spanning performance, bringing out most of their big hits from their earliest work all the way up to Junto.
The live show would take interesting turns as the performers would be out to do a track like "Back 2 The Wild" and then Buxton would take over the performance for a quick little interlude on the DJ equipment and he would play some seemingly random selections like Disclosure's "Bang That" and a second one a short while later with DJ Snake & Dillon Francis' "Get Low" with Baauer's big remix of Flosstradamus' 2012 single "Rollup."
These seemed a little forced to connect with a younger crowd, but it could have been worse as they did add a small live element to the songs utilizing the drums.
They somersaulted through various tracks from their extensive discography like the Grammy-nominated single, "Never Say Never," bringing out singer ETML, also known as Elliot Marshall.
The moment everyone was waiting for happened at 9:48 when Ratcliffe got on his knees and started shredding on the guitar, ushering the most famous track from the Jaxx catalog -- "Where's Your Head At?"
The crowd predictably went bonkers for the song as the singers urged them on to jump and go crazy from start to finish. It was a reminder that one does not need simplistic, repetitive synth chords and drum loops to get a crowd going in electronic music. Rather a live band and quality composition can do just the same, if not more, and leave you more satisfied as a fan. Basement Jaxx is one of the last remaining acts from the 1990s explosion of electronic music worldwide and last night was a reminder that they've still got it and are showing no signs of slowing down.