indieberlin checks out the Bonobo live DJ set in Astra

Bonobo at DJ table photo DanMedhurst indieberlin

The first time I came across Bonobo ‘s music was around four years ago back in my bedroom in Malta.

Having seen the lineup for the Soundwave Festival on Facebook, I immediately started typing in the names of the DJs on Youtube. Since Bonobo was headlining that festival he was of course the first name to by typed.

I remember I typed in ‘Bonobo DJ set live’ and the first video that came up I clicked to open. For nearly an hour, I was blown away by the mesmerising,instrumental DJ set Bonobo had delivered in a ‘Boiler Room London session’.

I wanted to be part of that vibe, that atmosphere

The audience in that video were going mad, dancing, banging their heads, one guy even scratched a track on Bonobo’s decks.

Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, and I wanted to be part of that vibe, that atmosphere.

Therefore roll on March 17th 2016, and at Astra Kulturhaus in Berlin, I am witnessing a live DJ set by Bonobo himself.

The event was part of his ‘Outlier’ curation sessions, where Bonobo hand-picks other producers to perform live sets with him on different nights across Europe and the US.

With DJs Matthew Herbert, Dauwd and Peak & Swift opening up for him

With another album on the way, this was the perfect opportunity for Bonobo to showcase his DJ abilities, which in reality are as good as his live band performances.

With DJs Matthew Herbert, Dauwd and Peak & Swift opening up for him in two different rooms of the Astra Kulturhaus, it was at around 12:30am, that Bonobo took centre stage.

Boasting a new light rig and backed by space-dimensional visuals, Bonobo started warming up the crowd with a mix of tracks from his previous albums. However it was to be his signature signed single – ‘Cirrus’ from his North Borders album that would get the crowd going.

During the set Bonobo started to mix more tribal sounds, experimenting with ethnic instrumental beats, which took the crowd to a high level of energy.

When it comes to House music, Bonobo is giving the genre a whole new scope. He is gracefully transcending the stereotype into something that is more in line with today’s standards of producing and mixing of live music.

Rather than standard house music, Bonobo combined full synth pads with glitchy melodies that provided a richer context for people to dance to.

His set was a voyage that swept the whole place for an entire two and a half hours of pure bliss

And with his latest track ‘Flashlight’ Bonobo brought the crowd to a high again. All in all, his set was a voyage that swept the whole place for an entire two and a half hours of pure bliss.

Bonobo’s mix also included a new remix of ‘Moloko’s ‘Sing It Back’, another example of his eclectic taste in music.

Despite not coming out for an encore, my final thoughts on Bonobo’s DJ set was that it was extremely creative, interesting, engaging, captivating, impressive and of course danceable.
Anyone who thinks that a Bonobo DJ set is a downgrade to seeing a show with his live band is surely mistaken. It’s just a different beast, one which should be given just as much attention and calories on the dancefloor as the latter.

Review by Shawn James

Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a 'recovering musician', he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.

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