By Zach Bourque //
It’s difficult to accurately describe Moderat without dipping into superlatives. The innovative, groundbreaking Berlin-based supergroup has proven to be a modern antidote to EDM, with a fresh take on electronic music that reminds you why you started enjoying it in the first place.
The three-piece outfit hit The Fonda Theatre for a sold-out performance last Thursday ahead of its appearance at Lighting in a Bottle this past weekend. Support came from New Orleans-derived electronic music act Telefon Tel Aviv, now made up of former Nine Inch Nails touring member Joshua Eustis after the accidental death of bandmate Charles Cooper in 2009.
It’s no surprise that Moderat have made waves in the genre given their well-established roots in Modeselektor (Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary) and Apparat (Sascha Ring). What has been surprising, however, is their ability to step outside the conventions of both parent acts and craft something truly their own.
Much of this appeal stems from the ethereal vocals of Ring, whose presence stands to further elevate the group over the current crop of watch-me-press-play DJs in the EDM world. Coupled with the trio’s trippy, layered sound, Moderat are an electronic act that sound spectacular in a recording studio but become something else entirely when they perform live.
At The Fonda, the group wasted no time diving into a wonderfully varied setlist that featured old favorites like “Rusty Nails” and “Bad Kingdom” that were mixed in with newer tracks like “Running” off its 2016 release and third full-length album III.
Moderat’s initially dark and subdued visual setup, meanwhile, shifted directions halfway through their set, exploding into a sea of light and color before finally giving the group the psychedelic backdrop it was born to play in front of.
Any sold-out show at The Fonda can be a daunting experience, but the eclectic crowd seemed surprisingly well-behaved, especially considering the show’s proximity to a holiday weekend. Credit goes to a refreshing lack of tank-topped EDM bros and a collective sense of appreciation and excitement for the event at hand, which speaks volumes to the merit of the group.
While we’ll stop short of calling all EDM music garbage, it’s certainly been an embarrassing blemish on electronic music as a whole, which makes it all the more refreshing to witness a live electronic set that puts the focus back on the music instead of the party.
Moderat can’t offer you bass drops, celebrity cameos or goofy costumes. What they can offer, though, is something way more valuable — electronic music that not only sounds awesome live, but would also be a great addition to your vinyl collection at home.
Take that, David Guetta.