Scientists of Sound The Marquee Ballroom, Halifax NS, March 29
Published Mar 30, 2014The faces above the decks and beneath the undulating visuals of the Marquee's stage kept changing, but the rhythm was unfaltering. A rotating cast of local beatmakers kept the crowd constantly flailing as newcomers Wet Paint and Pineo warmed up the stage for KDZ and the groovy ambience of A.A. Wallace. The DJs delivered short, uptempo sets as the venue steadily filled before the headliners.
The energy spiked when Scientists of Sound took the stage dressed in reflective material as flashy as the disco ball above them, ripping through an instrumental rocker to the delight of the dance floor. The crowd was treated to a rare face to face performance from the duo, who are notorious for performing in bizarre animal masks. The show felt downright intimate, as much as smoke machine filled haze of the Marquee allowed.
The first half of their set was heavy on the anthemic ballads, channeling the vibe-y guitars of Ratatat with a dance core. The second half veered toward the dubbed soul and robot vocals of early Daft Punk. The futuristic nostalgia clearly resonated with the bodies on the dance floor.
Halifax isn't known as a mecca for Electronic Dance Music, but the late winter concert Shake, of which this show was a part, is the city's answer to larger gatherings like Montreal's Igloofest. Shake awkwardly turned out to not only be the festival's billing title, but the name of a new single by Scientists of Sound. Whether they wrote the song for the show or based the promotion around it, the song's overt imperative to "shake that shit," accompanied by an overpowering lyric video, felt heavy-handed and out of character from the usually mysterious duo.
The audience complied anyway: the bear hats, colourful masks and glowing clothes dotting the venue were a reminder that Nova Scotia is home to festivals like Evolve, and the province's EDM heads know how to get sloppy on the dance floor even when the artists are obscure.
Scientists of Sound's east coast heritage is evident with melodic nods to Jimmy Swift Band and Grand Theft Bus, but they upgrade the jam band ethos with a grimy electronic bottom that electrified the Marquee.