EMAS Weekender: Live Set Edition, Kilter + Just a Gent

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Photo: Andrew Gordon

Kilter: An Impeccable Live Set  

by Sam Rosser 

The past couple of weeks have seen a surge in live electronic performances in Perth, prompting the question “Is a live performance better than a DJ set?” Last Friday I had the pleasure of experiencing a line-up of live performances at Villa, for Kilter’s Through The Distortion album tour. Alta, Feki and Kilter all put on amazing performances, and there wasn’t a CDJ, turntable or mixer in sight.

Alta has been making noise recently with their incredibly melodic and dreamy sounds earning them a lot of attention not only in Australia but also internationally. Their sound was incredibly tight and Hannah Lesser’s (vocalist) singing was absolutely on point. I was very surprised that I had only heard a couple of their bigger tracks because almost every song in their set was worthy of radio airtime. Standout songs for me were “Plans” and their new song “Fix It.

Feki, while not bringing as much of a live element as Kilter and Alta, also played an impressive set. Starting off slow with some funky house music reminiscent of Kaytranada, before moving into some heavier trap, and future bass style tracks, with a Flume/Hermitude/old school Ta-Ku feel to them. Feki is a producer I will be keeping a close eye on, and I would recommend heading over to his Soundcloud and giving his tracks a listen.

Finally, Kilter came on. This was the third time I had seen him, and he has gone from the opening act at Field Day, to headlining his own Australian tour. As usual, he surrounded himself with his drum kit, and synthesisers, performing his tracks live with a minimalistic backing track. His live drumming, and accompanying live guitarist, added such a powerful, punchy, and unique sound to his set, something which can’t be done in a DJ set, and allowed him to really interact with the crowd, who fed off every guitar lick and live drum roll. This was the first time I had seen him perform a lot of his new tracks off his Through The Distortion Album. Standout tracks where pretty much everything he played, but personal highlights where “Count on Me“, “Fool For You”, and the classic, “They Say”.

Kilter encapsulates everything I love about electronic music in both his music and performances. He is able to mix both exciting energetic and melodic tracks, with slower tracks that hit you right in the feels. While this was the third time I had seen him, I will definitely be in attendance next time I get the chance to see him again.

But back to the main question; are live performances becoming more popular than DJ sets for electronic artists? Kilter wasn’t the only live act on Friday, as Just a Gent also played a live set at Slim’s which is reviewed next, and it was only a couple of weeks ago that SLUMBERJACK played a mesmerising live set to a sold-out Villa.

Live sets allow artists to add a unique element to every performance, interact with the crowd, and prove they are doing more than just pushing buttons. It also allows them to showcase their songs, without having to worry about quickly mixing through a set. Now I am not against DJ sets, I am a DJ myself, and love DJ’ing. What’s more, electronic music can be very hard if not impossible to recreate live. However, I think crowds are sick of going to see artists play a headline set, and hearing the same “Bangers” every weekend. Anyone can play a set of heavy hitting songs, all you need is access to Beatport’s top 10. I feel any artist who can turn their music into a live performance has a leg up in today’s music scene, as more and more people want to experience more than just a DJ set. DJing is awesome when the DJ has the opportunity to showcase their skill and music taste, but less awesome when you get a headline DJ playing the same songs as every Headline DJ set that you have heard countless times before. DJing is definitely not a dying art form, but I feel Live electronic acts are going to become more and more popular into the future.

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Photo: Eskape Media

Just a Gent: A good DJ with good music

by Andrew Ring

20-year-old Sydney producer Just a Gent (Jacob Grant) has certainly come a long way since his first Perth club show at the Father Villa takeover in 2015. Just a Gent first made waves in the electronic music scene with the release of his first song “Sovereign” in 2013.

This was closely followed by a set at Listen Out Sydney in 2014 courtesy of the Triple J Unearthed competition. Since his festival debut, Just a Gent has toured Australia numerous times over, completing numerous shows including Splendour in the Grass and WA’s very own Southbound last year. Known as a serial SoundCloud poster who loves a remix, his sonically diverse debut EP Stories To Tell was released mid last year to wide acclaim.

This has been followed up by numerous other tracks including remixes/flips of “Illenium” and Post Malone, as well as a defining Like a Version of Kid Cudi’s cult classic “Day N Nite” for Triple-J. His current live tour of Australia and New Zealand, to promote the release of the recent single “You’ll Never Know” (feat. Moza), sees him visit 11 venues over the next two months.

Support came from Sydney electronic duo Moza who gave the sold-out Jack Rabbit Slims crowd an eclectic pop with all the traits of something you would expect from Safia or Kilter.

Being a huge fan of a large body of Just a Gent’s music my expectations for the show was that he would play heaps of it, and thank god he did. The first half of his set covered pretty much all the bases. Covering many of his earlier tunes as well as a large number of his most successful remixes. Visual work was nothing to write home about (more often than not, the screen just displayed his logo), but the music was good enough that it didn’t really matter.

A number of guest vocalist appearances really added to the show, as did the wide range of song selection. After displaying the most successful parts of his discography in the early stages of his one-hour set, he then moved onto more diverse genres. Dribbles of drum and bass and Nosia were perhaps somewhat contrasted with a cheeky song from “space-mom” Rezz. The set as a whole had a good flow to it and was genre-hopping enough to keep the crowd interested throughout.

A finale of the ever popular Heavy as a Heartbreak was then perhaps surprisingly followed by EP song Loaded Dice to close out the set. If I was to have an issue with the overall music selection it would be that Loaded Dice is a bit of a mellow song to end what was an energetic set throughout.

What was billed as a live show sadly turned out to be anything but, a live show. As big a fan as I was it was frustrating to go along expecting a live show and get something that was, in essence, a DJ set that included guest vocalists. However, this was really the only real detriment to what was a great set.

The Jack Rabbit Slims show in many ways accurately chronicles Just a Gent’s musical journey; he now has more songs under his belt, and there has been a remarkable improvement in his DJ skill to boot. His 2015 Villa show had a diverse and exciting song list that was let down by a real lack of technical ability. Thankfully this time there was effort put into honing his technical ability, and his ever-expanding musical library which meant that this is no longer the case. Just a Gent managed to deliver a refreshing set from start to finish, something which seems to be increasingly difficult these days.     

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