MSTRKRFT performs on Halloween
Don’t expect Toronto DJ-duo MSTRKRFT to pull any unexpected punches. In the past year, the group — consisting of musicians Jesse Keeler and Al-P — has toured clubs all over the world, getting nods for its dancer-friendly style. MSTRKRFT’s sound is unabashedly simple: A throbbing, up-tempo drumbeat is omnipresent. There’s a fat bass drum that could barely make it through your doorway, combined with that percussive-yet-distorted synthesizer line you’ve heard on every CD put out in the past year (see TV On The Radio, Kanye West, etc.).
This funky simplicity is MSTRKRFT’s one commandment. It’s clear that Keeler and Al-P form a functional band, tapping into the basic cultural phenomenon that young people today want to dance to club music with a sprinkle of indie clout (melody not required). MSTRKRFT understands that and stays far away from corny breakdowns and hazy piano lines that defined quintessential ’90s techno music. Instead, the duo turns their musical vocabulary outward, focusing on remixing adequately interesting, hipster-approved indie-pop peers like Bloc Party along with house groups like Justice.
Remixing alone isn’t a sin, but MSTRKRFT is lethargically uncreative in its deliveries. The band’s remix of Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E.” is painfully boring, the main changes being the addition of a cowbell and a predictable key change halfway into the song. And even though Justice doesn’t specialize in catchy numbers, they are masters of rhythmic interplay between beats and samples; with MSTRKRFT, the music just feels like a synthesizer slapped on top of a drumbeat. It begs the question: If you’re doing a remix in the style of the original and not making any creative musical changes, what exactly are you trying to accomplish? If your answer is “getting people on the dance floor,” well, Justice’s original version of “D.A.N.C.E.” has been banging in the clubs (and college house parties) for months now.
But hey, there’s nothing wrong with dancing — or a thumping drumbeat (albeit uncreative). What matters to MSTRKRFT — and its fans — is that when Jesse Keeler and Al-P hit the play button, your ass is shaking and you’re having a good time. Sure, it’s nothing to write home about, but most of the crowd MSTRKRFT is playing to probably wouldn’t be writing home anyway.
MSTRKRFT plays Rangos Wednesday night and, as long as you don’t listen too carefully, you will have a good time. Also, wear a costume — the concert’s on Halloween.