Jacques Greene / Suicideyear The Velvet Underground, Toronto ON, April 15
Published Apr 16, 2017While plenty of Toronto residents spent the evening in Easter service, those who consider the club to be their church packed the city's Velvet Underground for a euphoric electronic sermon from Jacques Greene.
On the final tour date behind his first full-length LP, Feel Infinite, the producer looked to further his record's message of celebration and inclusion in playing to a room of people decked out in Boiler Room and R&S shirts and club-goers alike. Crowd dynamics aside, Greene's set was anything but textbook, and served as a good welcome back to the city he now calls home.
Stepping first to the boards was Greene's LuckyMe labelmate Suicideyear (born James Prudhomme), who primed the club with his own set of trap and bass. Bathed in purple and pink lights, the Baton Rouge producer stayed solemn in cueing up track after track of elastic, bellowing low end lines and glassy melodies, demonstrated best on his own "Interest" from 2013's Japan. Transitions between his first few selections in the early going were not unlike cymbal crashes, brash enough to wake any dancer from their hypnotic groove.
First coming to prominence as a producer for Swedish rapper Yung Lean, Prudhomme paired his well-known "CCCXXV" instrumental with a different vocal track in Death Grips' "Takyon." Other pleasant remix surprises included a flip of 21 Savage's "No Heart," in which Metro Boomin's droning production was replaced by playful synths, and his vocal-heavy rework of the Atlanta MC's "X." Sandwiched in between his own "Hate in My Hart" and "Kuuuuush" sat a remix of Frank Ocean's "Self Control," whose harmonious outro chorus he turned into a slick floor-filler. Where his recorded releases would be a tough fit for the club if played front to back, Prudhomme's jump to the live environment with his own material was seamless — truly the mark of any great producer.
Greene then took to the shadowy stage half an hour after midnight, standing in front of a prismatic cube that ran colour cycles, strobes and projections based on Feel Infinite's album artwork. He wasted no time in getting to new material with "To Say," running its punchy bass and vocal chops into an extended, drum-heavy outro that gave way to more familiar fare in "Quicksand." Content to let its keyboard hook run its course, he then offered a new look at his own "Dundas Collapse," with a snappy drum line making it feel like more than a Feel Infinite interlude.
Greene's set became more reliant on tension after getting some of his more obvious bangers out of the way. In mixing himself out of "Real Time," he was patient in bringing the intro synth melody of Feel Infinite's title track up to its proper speed. Bobbing around behind the boards, his patience paid off, with the crowd showing as much movement as they had all evening. He employed a similar strategy in playing "I Won't Judge," which was preceded by a break for applause — a rarity in DJ sets. In the shadow of the spotlights and kaleidoscopic cube visuals, Greene let the song's chopped vocals fill the venue before slowly increasing their speed, looking skyward with his eyes closed before he dropped the track's forceful drums in amongst its layers of synths.
Like Suicideyear before him, Greene snuck in a Frank Ocean edit of his own with his reworking of "White Ferrari," leaving the crowd to guess their way through his clever dicing of Ocean's vocal track, which came in for a euphoric chorus. The tempo was dialled back only briefly with the inclusion of the How to Dress Well-assisted "True," but Greene had the crowd moving again with the bubbly "You Can't Deny" after some quick words of thanks — his first time addressing the room all evening.
After starting to drive things home for the evening with "Afterglow," Greene locked the crowd in a gentle sway for "You See All My Light." While some stood in anticipation for any sort of drop, others were finding the path to ascension in the song's looped vocals and a synth patch that wasn't far removed from guitar power-chords. Not unlike a six-stringer and their pedal board, Greene took a brief moment at the song's end to tweak an oscillator and have the song spiral away, and even gave the remaining fans an encore in spinning through his infinitely infectious "Another Girl."