Moderat Showcase Why They Are The Best Live Act in Electronic Music [Review]

Our Live Review of Moderat at The Fonda Theatre in L.A.
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Danny Kaufman
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Our Live Review of Moderat at The Fonda Theatre in L.A.
Moderat

Photo Credit: Lance Lehman

Just a little over four years ago at Coachella, I witnessed an astounding performance from a dance music act I had only recently become familiar with, Modeselektor. About Six years before that, I purchased a forward thinking IDM album by the name of 'Orchestra Of Bubbles' which was a collaboration between two Berlin techno enthusiasts, Ellen Allien and of course Apparat. These two events were the culmination of how I eventually came to know the phenomenal German trio known as Moderat, a collaborative project from the duo Modeselektor and solo artist Apparat.

The three artists together as Moderat just released their third and final album together, III, and some including myself are already calling it the album of the year. Given this accolade, it was quite a shock to find out the group was only doing a seven day tour of North America, including one stop in L.A. On top of that, the last time they performed here was 2013! With that in mind, I was definitely not going to miss this show.

Cue the beginning moments of this well anticipated performance. The men took their positions on stage with a rousing ovation and led into their set with proper distortion and dissonance, giving way to the gorgeously melodic 'Ghostmother' sung immaculately by Sascha Ring, aka Apparat.

With a nearly seamless ambient transition, the artists delicately eased into one of of their most powerful, yet beloved tunes from their first album, 'A New Error'. The gritty synth and stomping 4/4 kickdrum quite literally kicked the door wide open to their premiere gig at The Fonda Theatre.

With those two tracks breaking the show wide open, the band were ready to take it up a notch by moving into more syncopated territory. First with the off-kilter 'Let In The Light' then onto one of their most anticipated tunes of the night, the Radiohead-esque 'Reminder'. They coalesced brilliantly together as Apparat sang with the slightest of ease over Modeselektor's jump-up drum and bass rhythms, perfectly hammered out with a few surprising fills that kept the crowd guessing until the beat progressed with a crescendo of electronic drums and synths. Just four songs in and Moderat had already won the crowd over.

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Photo Credit: Carmina Cortes

After being absolutely rocked by the frenetic drums of 'Reminder', the band took it down a few notches for their pulsating new single, 'Running', which was both refreshing and invigorating. The band then brought it down a bit more as they moved into ambient and downtempo territory. First with their remix of Jon Hopkins' 'Abandon Window' then with their lead track from III, 'Eating Hooks'. There were definite moments of beauty, but at the same time there was an opportunity to grab a drink as well. However, it didn't take long for Moderat to reel me back in with their syncopated melancholic material curiously called, 'Rusty Nails'.

To close the regular portion of their set, the band hurried through two instrumental tunes, 'Animal Trails' and 'Nr 22' with 'Last Time' oddly but not unfittingly squeezed in between. 

As they finished up the first portion of the show we all knew what was to follow as they accepted a full applause and shortly thereafter teased us Moderat fanatics with the 'Bad Kingdom' sample that is synonymous with not only the band but has gone through many famous remixes.

As Moderat wrapped up their biggest song during the first encore, they moved right into the ethereal track 'The Fool' taken from III following with 'Intruder' to close out their first encore. The show deserved a proper ending at that point but they were brought out once more for a second encore to finish with the Burial-esque 'Versions'.

So there I was, just as pleased with their performance as the first time I saw Modeselektor at Coachella in 2012. However, it was different this time. It wasn't just better, it was more dynamic and song-driven which is utterly refreshing coming from myself and most dance music fans who are faced with instrumental dance tracks day in and day out. Moderat filled that void better than anyone I could possibly imagine and left me in awe at the powerful performance. Will they ever be back? We can only hope.

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