Darkside + High Waters @ The Observatory, Santa Ana 1/26/2014

January 28. 2014 | By Patryk Mrozek

We consider it perfectly fitting that the Brooklyn duo Darkside, made of EDM wunderkind Nicolas Jaar and experimental guitarist Dave Harrington, took the stage of Santa Ana’s Observatory on the night Daft Punk, Nile Rodgers, and Pharrell secured the most important Grammy awards (including one for Best Album).

Just like Random Access Memories, Darkside bridge the worlds of 1970s guitar-centric music and current, innovative electronica, in order to deliver something very much out of this world.

Darkside @ The Observatory, Santa Ana 1/26/14Darkside

Before they had a chance to prove it, however, Jaar’s Brown University classmate and frequent collaborator, multi-instrumentalist Will Epstein, opened as High Water. The sheer quality of Epstein’s fragmented, brittle compositions was astonishing, and his combination of dissonant saxophone improvisation, melodic soundscapes and earnest singing garnered plenty of applause from the audience.

High Waters @ The Observatory, Santa Ana 1/26/14High Waters

Yet even after such a great warm-up Darkside managed to wow the nearly-sold out venue. Going through several cuts from their 2013 LP Psychic, including crowd favorite “Paper Trails,” the musicians focused on their respective fortes, welding them together into a cosmic mix not unlike a contemporary re-imagination of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon. On the left side of the stage, Harrington channeled Mark Knopfler in his virtuoso progressive guitar playing, while Jaar dropped ready-for-the-floor house beats and provided the vocals; these were pretty low in the mix (making the lyrics hard to decipher), but contributed to the mystical, space-age atmosphere of the event.

Darkside @ The Observatory, Santa Ana 1/26/14Darkside

And so did the amazing light spectacle that transpired. Being the O.C.’s premier music spot, the Observatory served well as the setting for Darkside’s show, but most of the ritual-like atmosphere was thanks to their amazing use of fog machine and a gigantic circular mirror hung above the stage. At times separating the two musicians (which added to the “best of both worlds” impression of their interplay), otherwise reflecting a bright spotlight onto the audience, the mirror was a genius addition to the usual set of stage requisites; the concert felt almost like the extension of James Turrell’s amazing retrospective, on display now at nearby Los Angeles County Museum, which focuses completely on the ideas of light and perception.

Darkside @ The Observatory, Santa Ana 1/26/14Darkside

While musically the set was dedicated to the juxtaposition of instrumental artistry and nightclub grooves, for the big encore Darkside invited Will Epstein to the stage once more. Supporting the duo’s most avant-garde piece that night with angular, free-jazz-like licks on his sax, Epstein further reminded the audience of the great singularity and intelligence of Harrington and Jaar’s craft.

And so did the amazing light spectacle that transpired. Being the O.C.’s premier music spot, the Observatory served well as the setting for Darkside’s show, but most of the ritual-like atmosphere was thanks to Amsterdam-based artist duo “CHILDREN OF THE LIGHT” (Christopher Gabriel and Arnout Hulskamp), who provided the live scenography for Darkside’s tour in the form of their “Mirror Moon” installation. At times separating the two musicians (which added to the “best of both worlds” impression of their interplay), otherwise reflecting a bright spotlight onto the audience, the titular mirror was a genius addition to the usual set of stage requisites; the concert felt almost like the extension of James Turrell’s amazing retrospective, on display now at nearby Los Angeles County Museum, which focuses completely on the ideas of light and perception.”

See a full gallery of Darkside’s mesmerizing set HERE!

  • The Owl Mag | The Best Indie Music News, Album Reviews, and Free MP3's
    • ©2013 The Owl Mag.
      All Rights Reserved.