Apparat summed the night up best when he got on the mic to thank the swarm of caterwaulers at the end of the show. “We thought this would be our last show in Chicago,” he laughed before adding “thanks for proving us wrong!” I too was unsure of what I’d be stepping into at the Bottom Lounge for the debut U.S. show of German techno supergroup Moderat, comprised of Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary of Modeselektor and production guru Apparat a.k.a. Sascha Ring.
While the place wasn’t overflowing with people, there was a turn out to be proud of and early arrival proved to have its benefits as well, specifically in the form of Chris Widman, host of WLUW’s Abstract Science radio show. Widman is a tireless cultivator of electronic music in all its forms and a bright light in the city when it comes to bringing acts to town that we would otherwise never have the pleasure of seeing live. Tonight Widman built the intensity perfectly, at one point he dropped this cut that sounded like Thom Yorke backed by Bugz in the Attic on PCP and I about lost my shit. A few more stunners followed, including “These Words,” one of the standouts from Martyn’s recent full length, and next thing we knew the music and lights were fading in preparation for the main event.
With all eyes focused on the stage the Moderat trio emerged and took their places behind a very Kraftwerk-ian set-up of three control station consoles in a row. Behind them, three identical partitions came to life with the drop of the first beat of “A New Error.” As the potent techno thuds hammered their way out of Bottom Lounges’ suspended stacks of speakers, two black and white hands—no body attached—air drummed appeared on the screen hitting their cues right on beat. The aural and visual onslaught that proceeded to pour forth from these masters of their craft was totally and utterly mind-blowing. The screens steadily flickered interstellar space flights, mountainous journeys through abstract shapes and general headfuckery as the outfit hit through the main points of their self-titled album. All the while the crowd jerked, popped, screamed, whistled and, in my case, stood stunned into submission by the razor sharp precision of Modeselektor’s programming and Apparat’s musicality as he held down synth melodies, guitar riffs and vocals. Many in the crowd seemed to be newcomers to all three musical entities but I can guarantee they walked out fans for life.
- Joshua P. Ferguson