I would like to start this write-up with a nod of gratitude to whatever unnamable force (or hodgepodge of meaningless coincidences) is keeping concerts at full capacity well into October. I had been savoring the crowds of the first few weekends with greedy apprehension, believing that eventually attendances would thin to a pathetic smattering of students as our workloads increased. This has been the unfailing outcome of past years, but on Friday night, both the floor and the stage were teeming with gyrating friends and strangers (really, more strangers than friends—such is the blessing and curse of senior year) as I walked in to see the set of Wesleyan’s own Saarim Zaman (’16.)
Saarim’s selection of songs served us entertainment as if it was our God-given right to have it. Never have I felt so satiated by a tracklist. I laughed aloud in recognition as the dubstep portion of Cashmere Cat’s Miguel remix began, and when those zippery synths announced the entrance of Flying Lotus’ song Sultan’s Request, I made a mental admonition to revisit Until The Quiet Comes. I had been neglecting the album for too long, in the same way that I have been forgetting to write to the nicer of my two grandmothers, the one who is too polite to guilt me for it. Saarim, thank you for reminding me to drop her a note.
Next up, Slava—or so I thought. I had not read the Facebook event carefully enough to notice that the promise of a surprise guest had been slyly mentioned. And who should it be but alumnus Sam Lyons, aka Cybergiga. At this point, the line outside the building had become a thronging gridlock, which must have made the returning post-grad happy. His music, although looming and slightly dystopian, certainly has a heartwarming quality to it. As his deep, sustained bass tones cushioned the percussion that skittered above, I felt my chest inflating with each second that the notes held out. It felt as if I was levitating above the dark room and its canoodling partiers to some transcendent yet gloomy paradise.
Finally, Slava took the stage. The man identifies with the strange and unnerving, as his press photos and music videos demonstrate, and in true fashion, he set himself up not towards the audience, but facing the wall to his right and our left. The strange absurdity of this detail was one that I could not get over.
Another thing that I had trouble getting over: despite the huge attendance at the beginning of the show, the room was now practically empty. “Ah, well,” I thought, adopting the tone of a mother who is making her child go to bed. “It is late.” And then I started dancing. But lo and behold, halfway through his set, the room slowly regenerated into its original throbbing mass like a Christmas miracle. Slava’s beats were forceful, and his tempo would often veer from languid to breakneck and back again. We responded to these variations like his loyal puppets, first running in place, then leaning back and swaying slowly, then jumping vigorously, then once again pulling our signature Bernies. This only strengthened my original idea of Slava as some enigmatic musical authority, who surveys his world with cold quasi-Russian omniscience and determines our fate through the twiddling of knobs and faders.
At some point, my friends and I picked up some stray croquet mallets and began to use them as dancing accessories. I believe that their awkward length and rigidity—made all the more noticeable when we attempted to use them in graceful and dynamic movements—contributed to the atmosphere very well. I expect a thank you note from Slava in the next few days.