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Review Thu Nov 01 2012
When several thousand people make it out from all corners of a city to enjoy the same music in the same room in front of the the same stage, it can be a really incredible thing. When the overwhelming majority of those thousands show up in costume -- ranging from the hilarious to the scanty -- ready to dance, there can also be something undeniably ridiculous about it.
As I've probably hinted at through my other articles on Gapers Block, I'm a fan of electronic music. It's a cool amalgamation of the burgeoning rave scene of the '90s, the breakthrough of rap and other beat-focused music to suburban households and the evolution of the hardcore rock scene. Seriously, listen to some of the tight, low octave breakdowns of mid-2000s hardcore or "metal" bands and you'll find plenty of similarities between the "drops" that dominate popular electronic dance music. It's no coincidence that Skrillex -- the unofficial "king of dubstep" -- started in a Florida screamo band.
More so than a culture study though, Saturday night was simply a Halloween party set to music.
Kill the Noise, who's signed to Skillex's OWSLA record label, has some of the most dynamic production abilities of any producer/DJ performing at his level. Sadly, he shied away from spinning original tracks during his set at Saturday's Haunted House Tour stop at Chicago's leading electronic music venue the Congress Theater. The DJ's 2011 EP Kill Kill Kill sounded more like an unusually aggressive house music album than "traditional" dubstep. More cuts from this disc would've been appreciated instead of the crowd-pleasing, completely expected drops that he filled his nearly hour-long set with.
Saying that Knife Party's headlining set was highly anticipated would be an understatement. The DJ duo pointed out that this was only their second appearance in Chicago during their set. This is a pretty remarkable fact considering they sold out the Congress Theater (the capacity for which tends to vary between 3,500 and 4,200, depending on the source) weeks in advance and their first stop through our city was only two months ago at North Coast Music Festival. Their's was one of the standout sets of the weekend so hopes were high going into the night.
As this tour was titled "The Haunted House Tour" and this performance took place on the Saturday night before Halloween (which, everyone knows, is the night to party) I expected more Halloween-themed accouterments. Several carnival-like performers (i.e. jugglers, stilt walkers) graced the stage during the opening sets and during the first few minutes of Knife Party a burlesque dancer shot sparks into the crowd while taking a grinder to her steel garter belt. Animated skulls and brief clips from vintage horror movies blinked across the LED screen every so often. But, still, it felt like there could have been more. Musically, no Halloween-esque elements were added, which you would think wouldn't be the hardest thing considering it was a DJ set.
However, Knife Party managed to match the energy that they put out at North Coast, making for a steamy dance party at the Congress -- seriously, it was hot in there. The pair opted for a heavier, less melodic set than the dance-driven show they put on for Chicago this summer. Their uber-popular hit "Internet Friends" made an appearance and "Bonfire" was treated to an extended play complete with showers of confetti being released from the ceiling.
House parties are fun and all but this was the place to be for Halloween weekend this year.