Just what the hell is one supposed to do at a DJ set, especially if that DJ is none other than the world-famous Giorgio Moroder?
(Photo: Franco Pane)
Just what the hell is one supposed to do at a DJ set, especially if that DJ is none other than the world-famous Giorgio Moroder? At its most mundane, a DJ set entails a guy behind a big deck twiddling knobs, pushing buttons and sometimes scratching records. Some folks make it a spectacle, racing between turntables and flipping wax with uncanny timing. Others just seem to stand there, hyping up the crowd. At my most cynical, I wonder how much of the set is streaming through the obligatory laptop with illuminated apple at its center with little assistance from the DJ himself.
But what do you do? Are you supposed to watch, dance or a little bit of both? And it isn’t weird to be dancing when everyone is facing the same direction? When I saw Laurent Garnier in Paris more than a decade ago, the audience simply stood there, watching him work. That feels antithetical somehow, but so does turning one’s back to the stage.
Moroder and Dâm-Funk may have been competing with Solange during the Friday night installment of this year’s Soul’d Out Festival, but the pair still drew a moderate crowd. The venue did shut down its balcony before the set even started, an indicator of poor attendance, but by the time Dâm-Funk finished his 90-minute performance, the Roseland Theater’s floor was fairly full of fans hoping to catch a glimpse of the legendary Moroder.
For his part, Dâm-Funk (aka Damon Garrett Riddick) did a great job warming up the crowd with a set that took us through the corridors of funk history. Splitting time behind his table and playing a flamboyantly red keytar, Dâm-Funk stopped the music at one point to go off on reissue LPs and Kanye West while ranking the best funk tracks of all time. To hell with Motown, he reasoned. It’s stuff like “Freak of the Week” by Funkadelic that remains the most vital. He then allowed us to dance to that masterpiece.
DJing may be a younger man’s game, but Moroder was still able to thrill with a nearly two hour-set that focused on the many popular tracks he either wrote or produced. White-haired and mustachioed, the 76-year-old spent a good portion of the set pointing at the ceiling and dropping the melody for a bare beat, leaving the crowd to sing along to hits such as “Take My Breath Away,” “Call Me” and “Tom’s Diner.”
A lot of the crowd also seemed unsure what to do that evening, not just the few of us hanging off the rail at the front of the room. Some people simply stood, just happy to be in the presence of the legendary producer. Others danced with wild abandon. I suppose the key is finding the happy medium somewhere in between.
Moroder kept the hits coming from “I Feel Love” to “What a Feeling” from Flashdance. Hearing the theme song from The Neverending Story was pretty surreal, though. Adding a piece of the track he recorded with Daft Punk a few years ago was also a nice touch. I’m not sure if Moroder’s encore was a planned thing, but hearing some of the same songs again at the end took away a bit from the flow of the set. Regardless, whether you dance or just stand there, take the opportunity to see the legendary Giorgio Moroder if the opportunity presents itself.