And there's lots to love about Nowadays, especially during the summer. Carter and Harkin keep the outdoors area open into the night, and have DJs playing their Backyard Listening series until 2 AM. No other club in New York boasts such a comfortable and expansive chill-out zone, with quality alternative music programming to boot. On Friday night, local DJ Cole Evelev warmed up the area with seasonable funk, reggae and Afrobeat, before switching to ambient and downtempo as Powder lifted off indoors.
Powder's ascent, though definite, was subtle. The tempo remained slow, never breaking 125 BPM and hovering around 120 BPM for most of the night. It takes several hours on the dance floor to understand exactly how deft she is at building and decreasing intensity while keeping the rhythm and tempo relatively stable throughout. Patience and understatement are her greatest tools—on Friday, she often let tracks play all the way through, and her mixes were unhurried and steady. When I heard her introduce the acidic squiggle of Haruomi Hosono's "Laugh-Gas," I hoped she'd let it unfold for all 11 of its weird and surprising minutes. I needn't have worried—she knows better than anybody when a track can DJ itself.
Powder played for more than nine hours to the biggest audience I've seen at Nowadays. Her other great feat was exploring the connection between techno and disco—far less common than the oft-paired house and disco. She'd go from groovy, psychedelic techno into Italo into a tight guitar loop and back again. At times I found myself confused about which genre I was hearing. It's refreshing to have your cultural radar scrambled in that way.
Early on in the night, when there were maybe ten people on the floor, Powder played "Test 1" by Acid Test (AKA Roman Flügel), layering high-definition sound effects of passing cars on top. These were panned so fantastically that, while standing in the middle of the room, I could feel the sound whoosh from one speaker stack, through the ceiling-mounted tweeters in the center and across to the other side of the room. It was as if a car were hurtling by just over my head. New Yorkers deserve a proper setting in which to enjoy such experiences. With Nowadays, we finally have it.
Photo credit /