John Digweed is still the king of NYE in LA
John Digweed has long been a staple of the Los Angeles dance music community. He’s been credited with helping launch the after hours movement in LA, and is a constant fixture in the city for New Year’s Eve. This year, Digweed returned to Exchange LA for another marathon set from the Insomniac co-operated venue.
Billed as “LA Loves Techno,” the show’s lineup was a bit perplexing at first glance. John Digweed & Tchami are two names you don’t normally see bundled together. One, a progressive house and techno veteran — the other, a newcomer to the scene and promulgator of the very much in vogue “future house” sound. Yet, from a promotional standpoint, the booking makes a lot of sense. Both artists attract sizable yet vastly different fan bases, thus tapping in to two vastly different markets.
The divide was evident immediately upon arriving at the show. Countless fans in line made reference to the night as “the Tchami show,” while the band of Digweed faithfuls, myself included, muttered grunts of rebuttal under our breath. In the minutes leading up to midnight, the floor was the most packed it would be the entire night. As flocks of newcomers flooded into the venue just in time to catch the somewhat anti-climatic ten second countdown, Tchami was delivering a relentless set. While it became increasingly harder to move, the Frenchman pushed on with greater intensity, ramping the crowd up in frenzied unison.
Many were surprised when Tchami’s set ended just 30 minutes past midnight, leaving the rest of the nighttime hours at Digweed’s disposal, but I relished at the prospect of the impending 5 hour Digweed journey. As one would expect, the transition between Tchami and John was a bit strange. The switch from aggressive “future house” to slow rolling techno (Digweed started with Maceo Plex’s remix of “Crossfade”) was palpably awkward for the crowd. But, as time passed, the crowd’s expectations slowly re-calibrated from anticipating drops every next minute to acquiescing to John’s drawn-out pace.
By 3am, the dance floor was perfect. The crowd had evenly dispersed, no longer clumping the middle or the sides, and Digweed had led a hypnotizing ascent through techno, deep house, and progressive. From Guy J’s “Once In A Blue Moon” to Maceo Plex & Gabriel Ananda’s “Solitary Daze,” Digweed’s track selection was dutifully on point. As the night wore on, the Bedrock hero slowly opted for darker and more menacing tracks. By 4am, to the tune of Julian Jeweil’s “Rainbow,” the mood could only be described as pummeling techno. He kept up the intensity with more Maceo Plex bombs, including the Minus staple “Conjure Sex,” and Maceo’s new concoction, “Conjure Floyd.”
As Digweed drove on towards sunrise, the crowd gradually thinned, unable to match his relentless stamina. While weary feet turned towards the door, the room’s overwhelming sense of contentment was painted on the faces of those still in attendance. Digweed had once again conquered another New Year’s Eve in LA, and if history is any indication, it won’t be the last time.
Photo Credit: We Are Night Owls (Insomniac)