All of this only makes it more impressive that so many live acts stick to their guns. Interestingly, half of the names of your top 10 for this year hardly (if ever) appear behind the decks. Almost everyone's approach is distinctly different: some ply their trade from behind a mysterious bulk of gear, others play in front (or inside) of psychedelic video displays. One has even been known to sing live vocals while floating around in a pool and flirting with random girls. But however unconventional their routines may be, the overall credo is comfortingly old-fashioned: make the crowd move with your own material.
- 10.Paul Kalkbrenner
Next: Fri, 08 Aug 2014
Flow Festival 2014
Performing across Europe at sold-out headlining shows, 2010 was the year that Paul Kalkbrenner proved that he was a brand unto himself. No longer associated with his BPitch Control family, Kalkbrenner is his own man and, judging by the forthcoming 2010 tour DVD, seems to be loving the freedom that he's been afforded. His breezy techno pop goes down easy, but that's through years of hard work determining the things he wants to play, exactly when to play them and how to elicit the biggest reaction as he does so.
Next: Sun, 24 Aug 2014
The Hydra: Blueprint - M-Plant 20th Anni..
"Now I feel freer with it; I feel much more at ease with what I'm doing," Shackleton told us recently on the subject of his live set. The fluidity he speaks of was experienced by audiences in the US and Australia for the first time this year, while handpicked gigs at key festivals—Unsound, Club to Club, Freerotation, Labyrinth—meant that Shackleton's otherworldly soundscapes were experienced firsthand by more people than ever before.
- 8.Guy Gerber
Next: Sat, 02 Aug 2014
Electric City 2014
The bright melodies of Guy Gerber may soon be soundtracking the likes of P. Diddy, but throughout much of 2010 they were the provenance of nightclubs around the world. What the Israeli producer does may look easy, yet it's anything but. With such subtly diverse music, it's fascinating to hear how many different ways he can play the same material. Yes, it's on a laptop. But there's often more work being done than your average traditional musician when Gerber sets up shop.
Next: Fri, 05 Sep 2014
Berlin Festival 2014
Berlin supergroup Moderat had a spectacular 2009, thanks to their eponymous album and the subsequent tour which snagged them the top spot in this poll last year. Enhanced by Pfadfinderei's lush visuals, in 2010 the Moderat extravaganza continued to amplify the best qualities of both Modeselektor and Apparat. Whether you were drawn into the stunning images, rocked out to Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary's bombastic basslines or swooned over Sascha Ring's floppy-fringed shoegaze moves, Moderat remained among the most stunning intersections of sound, vision, and musicality.
Next: Sat, 16 Aug 2014
Kehakuma + Elrow
Rene Pawlowitz has one surprising ground rule when it comes to playing live—no test-driving unreleased material. This makes his sets more special for his fans, who will likely hear most of their favorite Shed, WAX and EQD tracks. It also means he has to deal with some pretty challenging material, especially after The Traveler dropped this past summer. But to the credit of both Pawlowitz and clubland itself, this hardly seemed to bother anyone: even as the beat slowed down, fell apart or disappeared altogether, crowds around the world happily grooved to his weird experiments.
- 5.Booka Shade
Next: Sat, 23 Aug 2014
South West Four 2014: Day One
Bigger and better. That was the motto for Booka Shade this year, as they continued to add on to their already substantial live show. Walter Merziger and Arno Kammermeier have little to prove these days after showcasing the possibilities of live performance over the past few years. But they went back to the lab in 2010 and emerged with a way to present their music that satisfied old and new fans alike. The only question that remains: Where do they go from here?
- 4.Henrik Schwarz
Next: Sun, 17 Aug 2014
We Love... Disclosure presents Wildlife
"Drama is important, especially in today's club music, I think. There should be...more drama." Henrik Schwarz encapsulated? As he revealed in an interview earlier this year, he has a button on Ableton he calls "drama," which he turns whenever the moment is right. His jazz-inclined house doesn't need much of it—it stands up remarkably well on its own—but Schwarz injects his performances with plenty. And if your reactions this year were any indication, the drama knob is working just fine.
Next: Mon, 04 Aug 2014
Ibiza Rocks House
Everybody loves an oddball, and dOP have three of them. The French trio once again terrorized clubland in 2010, turning the idea of electronic music live performance on its head by acting like the rock stars they so clearly want to be. The group lives by the simple credo that the mixer should always be in the red, and that you should never play sober. And with Jonathan Illel as ringmaster/court jester, that means that you never know exactly what you're going to get when dOP comes to town.
- 2.Nicolas Jaar
Next: Sun, 03 Aug 2014
Nicolas Jaar & Friends: Official Lollapa..
It must be easy to be Nicolas Jaar's press agent. Chilean-American, Ivy league student, fan of old-fashioned mics, etc. But with a creative vision as fresh as his, he hardly needs these talking points. In less than two years of releases, Jaar has cultivated a sound that's startlingly original, as well as a dynamic live act that's landed him in clubs around the globe. And all this while juggling a full course load, which is basically like driving with the emergency break on. With so much credit to his name already, it's easy to forget that he's just getting started.
Could it have been anyone else? The return of Richie Hawtin to his most famous recording guise for a stunning live show seems like a no-brainer for your #1 live act of 2010. And so it was. There was the drama of Hawtin behind an LED screen, with his usual visual team improvising along with him as he put together on-the-fly takes of classic material. There was the fascination of seeing a man renowned for rocking crowds navigating material that didn't immediately cause hands-in-the-euphoria. There was "Spastik," being played live in front of the cage in Detroit. There was one of the world's biggest DJs once again taking chances when it would have been just as easy to play it safe.