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What’s live music? It’s a question that gets asked frequently with respect to electronic music specifically—can you really have a “live” show from an electronic musician if all they do is press play and maybe adjust some levels? A traditionalist might tell you that true live music must include live instruments and some demonstration of technical skill. Some pop-centric idealists will tell you that what happens onstage isn’t nearly as important as the community in the crowd: a group of people who love the same music dancing to remember and/or forget. Those two intersect at a crucial point—a point where gifted musicians wield the power that only they bear to create a meaningful community that didn’t quite exist beforehand—and Jamie xx gave Governors Ball a set that hit that sweet spot on the nose.
Creating this community isn’t as simple as selling a lot of records and relying on those to draw some sort of distinctive crowd. It’s about what you do with that crowd once they get there, and Jamie’s set on Friday evening in the big Bacardi tent demonstrated an intuitive understanding of that. One of the most intriguingly jarring moments of the set was when the DJ played a lightly edited remix of The Human League’s smash hit “Don’t You Want Me.” That 35-year-old track was probably the most well-known song played all weekend at Gov Ball (if you discount the Prince covers that peppered the weekend), and the arrival of its chorus prompted the crowd to bellow in recognition and joy. Why would Jamie xx possibly want to upstage himself with a track from the ’80s, something that doesn’t quite exude the DJ’s style? Perhaps it was a move of inclusion—those in the crowd unfamiliar with the artist whose friends had dragged them to the tent would probably recognize this song. After the one-two punch of “Don’t You Want Me” and an instrumental version of Drake’s recent hit “One Dance,” spaced out eyes turned into bobbing heads.
—Staff writer Michael L. McGlathery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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