Four Tet The Great Hall, Toronto ON, September 6
Published Sep 07, 2013As hosts for the evening, Invisible City duo Brandon Hocura & Gary Abugan assumed the role of catalysts by slowly heating up the crowd over a period of two and a half hours. During that time they managed to rocket through a massive range of genres. The beginnings of their set featured a bizarre collection of spacey funk, most of which wouldn't sound out of place on an 80's sci-fi thriller soundtrack. Continuing along an outrageously funky pathway for most of the night it became quite clear that 90% of these tracks have never been played in a mass public setting before. It's part of Invisible City's ethos and well in keeping with their record label's style to put out dusty rare records and bring them to people's attention. In terms of mixing technique, there's a lot left to be desired — most tracks are simply faded in and out with minimum effort — but what Invisible City do bring to the table is a full arsenal of hidden gems and buckets of enthusiasm. Despite the general theme of obscure 12-inches, Hocura & Abugan at least had the foresight to up the tempo to house just before Four Tet (a.k.a. Kieran Hebden) started, so that the crowd was loose and ready to rumble for the main event.
Main acts are usually on the main stage, but Four Tet opted for a unique set up in the Great Hall. His sampler, mixer, dials, knobs, and laptop were all situated within a circular structure in the dead centre of the dance floor. Not only was Hebden within the grasp of many adoring sweaty hands, but he also gave the impression of a religious prophet, with hundreds of followers crowded around. Just like any good oracle, Four Tet started slow with "Roseland," his recent downtempo electronic collaboration with RocketNumberNine. It was a beautiful opening track and a bit of a hark back to his earlier "folktronic" days. As it simmered down gently, the first bits of African vocals started to creep in before the volume spiked for a track strangely titled " That Track I've Been Playing That People Keep Asking About and That Joy Used in His RA Mix" (seriously, that's actually the name of song).
From African rhythms to the melodic, synth-y loops of "Jupiters", Hebden sauntered between tracks with complete fluidity. It was a big difference from the performances at the start of his career, where each song ended fully before the next one started. Four Tet's more recent move into clubs has brought about a seamless quality to his sets. It was "Jupiters," that marked the start of the gig's fervor. Everything afterwards was lively and pounding. There seemed to be a couple of unreleased tracks thrown into the mix, but whatever they are, they turn the show into a full-on techno session. It was at this point that the set reached its zenith and Four Tet dropped his most contemporary release, "For These Times," but instead of playing it as is, he stripped it down — sometimes to just bass — and generally put it through a grinder before reeling it back into plush electronic splendor.
Towards the end of the show, Hebdan removed all the musical elements and left a simple repetitive thud in its place that closely resembled the approaching T-Rex in Jurassic Park. As the thud quickened, the first shimmers of "Love Cry" emerged, and then as the bass kicked, it was business as usual. This seemed like the perfect closer, but after a thoroughly satisfied audience screamd for one more, Four Tet obliged with "Plastic People," which actually turned out be the most fitting ending to a pretty flawless show.