Digitalism at North Coast Music Festival | Photos and music review
North Coast's final day was easily its most impressive, with acts like live-dubsteppers Modestep, Dutch house star Chuckie, L.A. A-lister Steve Aoki and Swedish House big shot Steve Angello, all impressive for how well they dominate their respective scenes, but the fest also boasted a handful of acts equally noteworthy for their ability to stand apart from any one EDM movement. German duo Digitalism definitely qualified as one of the latter.
Unassuming in plain t-shirts, the act's Jence Moelle and Isi Tüfekçi took to the makeshift booth with no pomp or circumstance. Known to rival the rest of the electronic-music community with its live show, Digitalism toned down the lights and laser extravaganza for this DJ set, preferring to pump the crowd up with wide-ranging selections, techy to start, but ultimately settling into the pair's signature Daft Punk-leaning rocky electro-house. Heavy players in the International dance scene, they aren't particularly known for techno, but the two's opening tracks leaned that direction, almost sounding like something Simian Mobile Disco might play—all beefy bass, crisp drum programming and the faintest hint of pop sheen. With a cigarette dangling from his mouth, Moelle worked quickly to pull the vibe back to the Digitalism center, mixing in a stunner of double time drums and soaring melodies. Even when not spinning their own material, each selection falls well within the Digitalism wheelhouse.
Taunting the crowd to get its hands up, Tüfekçi ignited one of the set's strongest reactions with a blistering remix of M83's "Midnight City." Known to cover New Order's classic "Blue Monday" in live sets, Digitalism kept the energy up, teasing their version of that familiar melody in and out of the mix before moving into original material with "Idealistic," a heavy dance-rock number from the duo's first record, and a remix of "Two Hearts" from last year's I Love You Dude. This last one had everyone in the crowd raising their hands up, not to pump it up, but to hold steady with their hands curved into hearts. Moments like this one were tempered with longer stretches of faceless electro as the set carried on, but in Digitalism's capable hands their version remained a cut above.