The Juan Maclean
Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh, Mon 17 Aug 2009
This article is from 2009.
This was always going to be a good one.
"Jesus, this place is small." says production lynchpin John Maclean, confronted with a wall of 100 bodies in a packed-out revamped Sneaky’s on a Monday night. With four people, a drumkit and half a dozen synths crammed onto a tiny stage, and with a proper grown-up club show stagetime somewhere in the wee small hours of the morning, this gig is a reminder of just how exhilarating live music can be.
Now with two albums worth of material from which to craft a live set, this New York studio-project-turned-touring-outfit have a blisteringly good live show, and, with no laptop in sight, are clearly not adverse to doing things the hard way. The combination of raw analog synths, drums powerhouse Jerry Fuchs - a man intent on redefining the term 'commitment', and the Human League-inflected boy/girl vocals of MacLean and Nancy Whang (also of labelmates LCD Soundsystem) makes for a visceral and powerful live disco electro hybrid.
The filtered synth mantra of ‘Give Me Every Little Thing’ mixes well with the slicker pop of recent album The Future Will Come, but it’s the 20-minute long, multiple breakdown, set-closer of ‘Happy House’ - that could have quite easily last twice as long - and that takes things up a level makes for scenes of near total abandon.
If the gig audience-sucking side effects of the Edinburgh Festival’s other distractions makes it possible to see an act this on top of their game in a venue this intimate during August, then let the big names come.
The punk funk label mistakenly applied to everything DFA-related, or to any act employing both a drummer and a synth for that matter, does The Juan Maclean a disservice. This is sheer adrenaline music.