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Posted at 12:05 PM ET, 11/18/2010

In concert: Simian Mobile Disco at U Street Music Hall

By Mark Jenkins

simian mobile discoSimian Mobile Disco poses for a portrait before its U Street Music Hall performance. (Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

Electronic dance music is not much on ceremony, so no one introduced Simian Mobile Disco when the British duo took control of U Street Music Hall's potent sound system Wednesday night. Actually, Wednesday had already melted into Thursday by the time Jas Shaw began mixing, followed shortly by fellow Simian James Ford. The pair alternated for nearly two-and-a-half hours, sustaining the synthetic pulse as the club's alcoholic beverages were put away, an employee swept the floor and most of the crowd vanished into the night.

Officially, what the Simians played was a "DJ set,'' although no records or turntables were involved. While most of the music was prerecorded, Ford and especially Shaw manipulated the sounds, altering tempo and pitch and adding bursts of trebly noise atop the insistent, metallic beats. The show's musical outlook was closer to the twosome's upcoming "Delicacies'' -- a stark, singer-free collection -- than to its previous albums, which feature guest vocalists and pop touches.

simian mobile disco

The playlist did include a few vocal-oriented tracks, notably a version of the duo's own "Hustler,'' whose "Love to Love You Baby'' rhythm justified the last part of the group's name. Stop-start tactics yielded the customary surges of energy on the dance floor, and jaunty passages and fuzz-heavy bleats lightened the mood. But the spare, taut music evoked Balinese gamelan, early Einsturzende Neubauten and earlier Steve Reich more often than Donna Summer or Bugs Bunny. This was disco without ornament, stripped to its thumping essence.

By Mark Jenkins  | November 18, 2010; 12:05 PM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags:  Simian Mobile Disco  
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