I’d been to Rebel once before for their launch party this past spring, and I was underwhelmed by the experience. Even with A Guy Called Gerald taking care of the main room that night, a bare three- or four-dozen people occupied the dancefloor. While I enjoyed having all that extra space to get down, my vision for the club’s future was dim. Yet apparently, Rebel’s profile has risen considerably in the months since then, because the place was absolutely packed to the rafters for Trentemoller.
After taking some time to explore the club’s three floors of bars, lounges and dancefloors, I can say unequivocally that it is by far the nicest venue I’ve ever been to, all plush couches and sparkling chandeliers. Sadly, the main room, a long corral of a space with high ceilings and a completely over-the-top sound system where people were packed in like sardines with little room to move, is so poorly designed that it rendered the night unbearable. Now, I’m all for sweaty dancefloors, but this was just too much. Perhaps if the opening DJs had been worthwhile I would’ve been able to deal with it, but alas such was not the case as a trio of DJs including Alex Dirtt, DJ Connie and Anthony Parasole subjected the audience to three hours of sub par mixes and average track selections.
Thankfully, Trentemoller finally took to the stage around 1:30, to great relief and applause. Assuming his position behind an enormous heap of synths, computers and cables, and accompanied by a guitarist and percussionist, he eased into the set with 'Take Me Into Your Skin,' one of the highlights of The Last Resort. Beefing up the arrangement with weightier bass, a stiffer backbeat, and an unexpected breakdown based on New Order’s classic ‘Blue Monday’ hook, it was the perfect selection to kick things off with. Energy was high and the crowd loved it, but at song’s end the band simply stopped playing.
My hope was that Trentemoller would have taken a page from his DJ gigs and woven the tracks into a continuous stream of rapturous beats and melodies, but they simply dove into the next track with all the scripted precision of a touring rock band. After noticing that the visuals splashed against the stage’s backdrop were flawlessly synced to the music, each meticulously programmed beat matching up with the jittering animation, my heart sank yet again. This was not what I was expecting.
Considering that this was a main room set going down at the peak hours of the night, I thought Trentemoller would have acknowledged the crowd’s desire to dance with abandon. Unfortunately, by destroying the set’s momentum at the end of each song and keeping the proceedings to a well-plotted script, he delivered nothing more than a serviceable performance of The Last Resort, albeit slightly altered for the live arena. Sure, the crowd cheered and there were more than a few people jumping about, but it appeared that most just weren’t quite sure what to do with themselves, so they simply stood around sipping their drinks, whooping and hollering where appropriate. Bottom line: a disappointing showing from a highly anticipating performance, and a pretty dull night. Next time, let’s hope he brings his records!