Lollapalooza 2011, Sunday: Modeselektor
Berlin techno provocateurs Modeselektor had the distinguished honor of playing the post-rain set at Perry's tent, which by that point had turned into a mud-worshipping free-for-all on par with the second coming of Woodstock in '94. I remember watching those dirt people moshing their hearts out—a clear fuck you to the weather—and it was no different here. Except, instead of moshing, the drenched and dirtied ravers went for a more lighthearted combination of splashing, dancing and stringing together a conga line.
As far as techno acts go, Modeselektor has more color than most. Jovial fellows, Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary have almost comedic demeanors, and you can practically hear them laughing through their music. Not that they're taking the piss, they just want their brand of blistering beats to avoid techno's cliched coldness at all costs. While this is undeniably true of their studio work and also of their Lolla performance, I couldn't help but feel a sense of distance coming from the track selections. Playing after Ed Banger's Busy P, who lit up the crowd with everything from Kanye West to Daft Punk, the Modeselektor boys started off a bit too monochrome. Which is very unlike them. Midway through their set, they switched up the tempo and dropped their dub-bass monster "Let Your Love Grow." That was more like it. As things evolved from there, the script was flipped in a more rapid-fire fashion, and given our thorough soaking, it did wonders for getting feet moving, even if it was as much sloshing as it was dancing.
Where Modeselektor really excelled was in the visual realm. Perry's Tent saw an array of light and sight spectacles this weekend. Dance-music artists have a tendency to outdo the guitar-slinging set in this regard, as they compensate for performances that would otherwise consist of no more than knob twisting and mouse clicking. Courtesy of Bronsert and Szary, we got the eye-candy motherload: wigged and winking wrestlers, an onslaught of bouncing balls and an endless succession of grinning monkeys, their signature animal. At one point, like the mischievous monkey the duo relates to so well, they goaded us to sit down, wait for the boom and then let loose. After a few looks from side to side—really? sit down in this mud?—we caught on. Get low they mean. We did. And that boom they were talking about? Yeah, that wasn't lost in translation. Up we came, hands extended to the overcast sky. These boys gave those subwoofers a workout and my ears are still paying for it. Don't get it twisted. When it's coming from Modeselektor, this is a good thing.