Nicolas Jaar Fills L’Olympia with Light and Sound

Nicolas Jaar. Photo Michael Eidelson. Nicolas Jaar. Photo Michael Eidelson.

New York based electronic artist Nicolas Jaar played a sold out show Thursday night at L’Olympia. Opening for the acclaimed artist was Actress who played a rather interesting set. The electronic artist did not step foot onto the stage once! A chrome mannequin took his place on stage with a green cloak overtop. It looked like a mock version of Doctor Doom from the Marvel Universe. A piano was stationed in front of the figure with two giant monitors behind it displaying various images disrupted in static. For the entire hour music played with no movement on the stage. I thought it was the type of music they played while everyone waited for the artist to come out. People were talking over it and the music couldn’t be heard properly because of it. By the time people were applauding, a person next to me asked another audience member if that was the opener. When they got the reply of “yes” they got extremely disgruntled.

Jaar’s pieces of work are filled with a luscious atmosphere, every note he hits is concentrated. Every piece of sound he produces feels purposeful and has its own character, everything builds on each other and fits into a groove that feels compelling to hear. It was an experience just sitting on the balcony and feeling the bass that would gravitate between light and cushioned to swelling heavy in my chest. The crowd loved it. Roars of cheers would cycle from one track to the next. L’Olympia turned into the nightclub everyone wanted it to be for Jaar’s return to Montréal. The entire venue was dimmed and any source of light came solely from the stage, making Jaar the focus of attention for the night and he completely utilized it.

His set-up placed him in the centre of the stage but closer to the back. A row of lights were aligned behind him and there was a row on each side of the stage that faced the audience and himself. The lights behind Jaar created a silhouette of him while he turned knobs and pushed buttons on his launchpad. Smoke machines would cover the artist in a thick cloud while the lights would illuminate off them creating a rusty looking colour. When he walked to the front of the stage and sing the smoke machines would turn on again and cover the singer in another cloud of smoke. This time the lights would reflect off of Jaar and make him look camouflaged in whatever colour was shining on him. It was cool to see the contrast of colours reflecting the crowd’s engagement. During songs where lights shone blue, the audience felt stiff and attentive to his actions. Reds matched the energetic rhythm of the bass during more dance-centric parts of his set. Every aspect to the performance felt calculated by Jaar to ensure the audience had a memorable time.

Whether you are familiar with his music or not, you should at one point try to experience a Nicolas Jaar set. He assigns weird sounds to serve a purpose in his music and makes sense of it within the context of his production style. He pulls it off beautifully as the speakers breathe life throughout the venue and create one of the most interesting shows to experience.

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