The fog of hype was thicker than usual leading up to Blkmarket Membership's Nonplus label showcase last month. Promoted as the release party for the label's Think and Change compilation, headliners Joy Orbison and Boddika seemed poised to attract a different demographic than usual for Blkmarket. Something about the night and those two artists in particular inspired a lot of excitement. But hype is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can foster thoughtful engagement, a sense of occasion and a spark of communality. But it can also cause the crowd to willingly push itself toward hysteria, if only to satisfy its own inflated expectations. Both effects were evident inside the dilapidated Brooklyn warehouse Blkmarket secured for the party, making for an uneven, blurry night.
The horns in Opolopo's remix of Gregory Porter's "1960 What" careened around the venue as we squeezed past the chaotic bathroom lines and coat check to settle on the dance floor, with growing frustration at the unbelievably overpacked room. Joy Orbison had just started, and the next two hours felt like a greatest hits set, complete with crowd singalongs (Blawan, as you might expect) and shrieks of recognition at the first appearance of certain slinky riffs and bass burbles. It's obviously a testament to his production skills that his tracks are so popular these days, but their omnipresence limits his own ability to play them out effectively. "Ellipsis," "Swims," "Froth" and "Mercy" were all dutifully trotted out for a moment in the spotlight, the last adding a bit of gunk to FCL's "It's You," which made for one of the many withdrawn vocal troughs in the set. The last fifteen minutes were a frantic wash of Daphni's "Ye Ye" and a thrilling "BRTHDTT," a hit not yet exhausted and making good on it's "TIP!"
Wearing a shirt that said "No Cash Value," Boddika diverted focus from rhythm to texture and pushed out quite a bit of the crowd in the process. The set favored dark analog techno of the moment, and had difficulty hooking an audience that had grown accustomed to the familiarity of Joy Orbison's set. The sound improved notably without so many bodies absorbing the impact, all the better to highlight an industrial palette of exhaust pipes and rusted spark plugs. Arrythmic sub-bass and a subtle swing made for a far more energizing second half. Deeper-than-thou Deconstruct DJ Joey Anderson closed out the night rather smoothly, but kept the tone chapped and dark, and while the heads stuck things out the majority wandered away, still muttering Joy Orbison's earworm vocal hooks on their way out.