At the Vogue on Tuesday, April 11.
Nicolas Jaar turned the Vogue Theatre into a nightclub on Tuesday, that being doubly impressive considering half of the sold-out audience was seated. At only 27, the Chilean-American artist has already produced such an impressive catalogue he can play two sold-out shows in Vancouver within five months and not repeat himself.
Armed with a saxophone in one hand and a microphone in the other, Jaar began the set with a quick hello and cut straight to the chase: “I’m happy to be here and to have escaped the United States.”
Coincidence or not, Jaar’s world tour, which kicked off last September, affords him little time in Brooklyn, New York, where he resides.
While his latest work, Sirens, is an ode to Jaar’s Chilean heritage and the country’s violent history, the album also speaks to the current political unease in the U.S. In a Pitchfork article, Jaar admitted that “It’s hard for me not to make an album about America right now.”
His drive to experiment and test the limits of contemporary dance music may also reflect a long time on the road. Since his last Vancouver show in November, Jaar has played in Europe, Asia, South America, Australia, and other North American cities—and the festival season is only getting started.
Before diving into his first song of the night, the energetic, Latin-steeped “No”, from Sirens, the multi-instrumentalist transformed into a hypnotic snake charmer with a saxophone solo that rivaled a police siren’s jarring throb.
Jaar’s 90-minute musical journey travelled through peaks and valleys of ambience. He constantly varied tempo, building pressure where one would expect a drop and driving the crowd into delirium.
While his November show at the Commodore Ballroom featured many of his earlier, more avant-garde productions, last night was devoted to the dance floor, a warm-up to his April 14 date at Coachella and the next stop on the tour. And dance the crowd did, peeling off sweaters and scarves to adapt to the sonically-charged sauna the Vogue had become.