Words by Beth Walsh
On the 28th March, Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington took Darkside to the stage for the FutureEverything Festival, creating a world within a world at the near capacity Ritz. Their debut album ‘Psychic’ gained critical acclaim last September, and the crowd gathered to see how such expansive soundscapes could be translated in a live environment.
Jaar and Harrington faced each other throughout the set, side-on to the audience. This allowed for uninterrupted communication between the pair as they took components from their L.P and built on them through improvisation. The performance almost felt like an elongated jam session between the two; Jaar housed in by his mixing equipment, laptop and synths whilst Harrington’s surroundings were a little sparser as he played out the palm muted funk guitar indicative of the Darkside style.
Jaar’s vocal range has grown throughout his career and this was evident on the night, with his seamless blending of high and low pitches. They bounced off each other; Harrington’s psychedelic riffs and falsettos were met with Jaar’s furious activity on the mixers, enshrouding the audience in a sonic aura consisting of sounds both familiar and new. Many seemed hypnotised under the spell, swaying to and fro, occasionally brought back into consciousness by Jaar’s sporadic driving beats which demanded a more physically active response. The audience were teased by impotent crescendos and hints of tempo shift; this was not a straightforward rendition of a near flawless album, much to the surprise and delight of those mesmerised by the performance.
The visuals were an important factor of the evening too and certainly served to accentuate the cosmic atmosphere. The lighting projected moody hues and placed Jaar and Harrington in silhouette for the majority of the performance, creating bold visual imagery which complemented their sound. A gigantic rotating mirror provided the backdrop, reflecting light across the floor and far reaches of the venue, generating visuals reminiscent of the Psychic album sleeve. The Ritz was transformed, with Darkside taking the audience on a journey through another dimension. When the lights flared up denoting the end of the show, it was reality which seemed most disorienting.