Perhaps the ultimate live electronic music act, Underworld’s Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) performance during the conference’s Friday early evening was also one of its toughest tickets.
As last year with Maceo Plex, Audio Obscura‘s registration only event occupied two hours on a cold early evening underneath Amsterdam’s iconic Rijksmuseum, taking place through the entirety of its bike passage. Packs of ADE revellers, the lucky 2000 or so, packed in from before the first key was hit, with several more waiting at the outer gates, perhaps able to find a solitary spot amongst the crowd inside.
I arrived right as the set was kicking off. Immediately, an array of lazers illuminated the halls, with Karl Hyde‘s voice and Rick Smith‘s musicianship echoing within the centuries old hallway. This rare opportunity of a live performance rolled through all the Underworld favorites, each with a simple but sensory visual component; subtle color and trajectory changes matching anticipation from first hour to second.
That first hour featured many of the duo’s more dancefloor oriented numbers, while its second, which began the personal favorite “Two Months Off” before heading into the likes of ‘Cowgirl’ and ‘King of Snake,’ brought our the sing a long classics. With as many arms in the air as mobile phones, as soon as their anthemic ‘Born Slippy’ wrapped things up, not even the biting breeze shooting through the space could lessen the spirits within. Underworld is one of those rare acts who, even after multiple viewings, remain a singularly consistent voice for quality and boundary pushing in electronic music.
As no strangers to stages the likes of which few in any genre would be lucky enough to play, Audio Obscura managed to bring one of the world’s biggest acts to, not only, an iconic setting but with an atmosphere of intimacy and class to boot. Let’s hope the Amsterdam organization continues its quest to merge the world’s of electronic music and “high culture” further through 2018 and beyond because as the setting makes the scene in cinema, so is true is in music.