The live act has gained more and more prominence over the last years. Especially since everybody calls themself a DJ nowadays, artists who want to set themself apart and do something more original than the regular DJ set each weekend. The opinions on playing live differ, some find it self-flattering while others would prefer a live performance over two decks and a mixer any day of the week. What is agreed upon though, is that live performers, and by this we mean those with a more elaborate setup than just a touchpad and a macbook, are artists who are adding something original to their performance, and perhaps take electronic music to the next level in doing so. Other than that the sound of analog gear, or a live guitar over a beat just sounds great. Here is our top 10 hottest live acts that we love to hear over and over again. For this list we chose for some more recent acts but of course we didn’t forget about names like Henrik Schwarz, dOP, Mathew Johnson, Guy Gerber, Bonobo or Mount Kimbie.
10. Jan Blomqvist
Music is emotion, and through electronic music emotions are transferred more easily when the sound is warm and organic as opposed to canned and cold. Those who’ve listened to Jan Blomqvist know that his music definitely doesn’t belong to the latter category because the sounds he uses are 100 % self-formed and perfectly underscore his distinct and secure voice, making his music alive and close.
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9. Bob Moses
Canadian grown (legally), New York formed duo is one of the latest acts to release on the boutique label Scissor and Thread. We have seen them playing live at BPM Festival and during HENK in Amsterdam. From then on we were sold. Their progression over their 60-90 minute performances are paced, usually from dreamy soundscapes into intense, feet-stomping sequences that leave you sweating and wanting more in the end.
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8. Genius Of Time
Genius of Time is a live show of old school meets new school house, fusing the analogue sounds of beloved machines with modern technologies and possibilities. Steady grooves coupled with live instrumentation and improvisation, with a serious hardware setup that looks both intricate and awesome. Check out their Boiler Room show and you’ll get the idea.
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7. Agents Of Time
It all started in a store room, a drink and a bit of time. Three minds gave life to the Agents of time. A real fusion of ideas and concepts that make up a single reality. Together they develop a rare style, characterized by particular and refined sounds, contaminated by their own electronic mood, a major common interest. Their live performance, distinguished by an evident visual and choreografic attention, is advantaged by the use of analog instruments that make the product unique in its genre.
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6. David August
As young as he is, his productions and outstanding performances show differently. The hamburg raised Diynamic artist shows a very grown up sound and attitude. When performing his LIVE set he flows into one with the music, especially during his Boiler Room set, where the crowd was not of influence and he fully focussed on doing his thing.
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5. Ten Walls
The lithuanian master of strangely addictive bass lines and dark grooves solely plays live at gigs. In between his hits like Requiem and Walking With Elephants this artist takes his crowds deeper and deeper into his musical journeys created by smart combinations of analog and digital gear, as you can see here.
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A co-project by RY X and Ame’s Frank Wiedemann. Minimalistic, melodic and ruthlessly melancholic. This live performance of their eponymous worldwide hit still sends chills down your spine.
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Being a guitar player myself, I was immediately hooked on Darkside, the collaboration between the brilliant Nicolas Jaar and guitarist Dave Harrington. From seeing their first performance I realised that dance music and ‘classical’ instruments do not have to exist mutually exclusive from each other. Of course there’s the live saxophone solo that some DJs have incorporated in their set to give that summer tune that bit of extra vibe, but for me that didn’t quite do it. Darkside, however, have been able to solidify the old and the new and push it forward into another dimension, giving you a taste of what electronica might evolve into in the not so distant future. Their RA Sessions performance of Paper Trails is pure bliss.
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2. Mr. G
The term ‘legend’ is often banded around willy nilly in the dance music realm (including here), but Mr. G, aka Colin McBean, is one of the few who can rightfully lay claim to this accolade. Having been in the game for around 2 decades now, Mr. G is widely considered to be one of the most under-rated artists about – but perhaps fame isn’t this man’s goal. Enjoying music definitely is, as he is always the most vigorous dancer during his own performances. Give this man a sampler, an MPC2000 and a mixer and he will have the place on fire within moments. “If house was a nation, Mr. G would be president.”
Does this man still need an introduction. Not really. During the last five years the modern-day king of the analog sound has made himself heard in all corners of the world. Not only because his music is loud as hell, but because it begs you to dance, rave and lose control on the dance floor, the type of things that dance music was created for. Other than knowing the basic routines around his impressive collection of gear, KiNK also incorporates little extra gadgets that and remotes that are able to make a crowd go completely insane. And because out of all these artists that we love, we secretly love KiNK most of all. And that’s why he’s no.1. in our top 10 live acts.
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