SXSW: No Way Back Party

RAC

RAC, or Remix Artist Collective is a set of three DJs that collaborate on remixing a variety of indie music. They tend to work with larger samples and sections of the songs and build from there, rather than taking a more traditional approach of taking a small samples and embedding it in their mixes.

I went to see RAC at Club Deville on Red River Street at the No Way Back Party, hosted by the Barbarian Group and Vimeo. The venue was essentially a large white tent set up outside of a dingy bar. Even though RAC was the first group to go on for the night, there were easily 200 people there already. Two of the three members of RAC, Andre Anjos and Karl Kling, were representing up on stage. One DJ was using the laptop and mixer to adjust effects and levels as he transitioned, while the other manually manipulated the electronic tracks.

The result was a powerful combination of danceable electronic music and familiar indie tracks. The crowd went especially wild as the duo started to mix in the lyrics of “Something Good Can Work” by Two Door Cinema Club, and the fierce voice of Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs song “Zero.” Overall, the show went well, and RAC had something to get everyone dancing.

The Juan Maclean

RAC recommended coming back to see The Juan Maclean later that day. The Juan MacLean is musician John MacLean’s DJ name. For background, John MacLean was previously know for his work in the band Six Finger Satellite with James Murphy (who later went on to start the indie electronica group LCD Soundsystem).

Returning to the Club Deville a little over an hour after seeing RAC, the crowd had grown and average blood alcohol content in the room had probably doubled. The Juan MacLean was using CDJs to rock the dance floor with a more old school sound. His set consisted of house music that wasn’t as typically drum and bass heavy, but rather relied on a larger variety of percussion sounds and funk bass and instrument samples.

After several songs and seamless transitions his set became a little repetitive. Although I enjoyed the set thoroughly, as Alan Palomo (Neon Indian) appeared behind the stage, I couldn’t help but wait for Maclean to finish so we could see what Palomo had in store for the night. Still, I’m glad I took RAC’s recommendation and checked out a cool DJ set by The Juan Maclean.

Neon Indian (DJ set)

Finally, Alan Palomo, better known as Neon Indian, took the stage. This was clearly the moment a large majority of the audience was waiting for, because the crowd erupted as he transitioned into his music. Neon Indian is well known for his work creating chillwave music with washy effects and synthesizers.

One of my favorite parts about his DJ sets was that we didn’t have to wait as for any “hype” to build up for the headlining act. As The Juan Maclean signaled that his set was finishing, Palomo jumped in, and transitioned into his thick layered synth sounds immediately. He played no traditional Neon Indian band music, but still stayed true to the Neon Indian sound, choosing dance tracks that relied heavily on analog synthesizers and old school effects (think classic video game noises). He avoided being cheesy by mixing in a variety of drum and vocal samples, frequently changing the tracks up, and dancing behind the decks with the audience.

As Palomo was grooving and mixing up on stage, one by one, the audience joined him on stage, bringing the party to him. About halfway into the stage, we were partying with Neon Indian on stage, having a fantastic time. Like all good things, the experience did end, but it was definitely one of the highlights of my SXSW experience.

Post by Akaash Mungale. His DJ show “Terminally Chill” airs Thursdays at 4 p.m.