Ten minutes to midnight, and Public Works was packed. Hairline sweat. Hips swiveled. Guitar-laden disco slapped the floor with a slippery, funk sensation. They call DJ Harvey a cult leader or a mythic, and one older woman, grooving with a pinched-tight face, referred to him as her “rave unicorn.”
Whatever the moniker, one thing’s for certain: Harvey’s a crowd pleaser; loose haired, hedonistic and unabashed to give a shoulder slung swirl on stage.
Harvey’s sets can be equally enjoyed from two perspectives: sloppily inebriated or stone cold sober. From the former, one would notice the fervor, the samba’s pelvic swing and quick dips into deep dub techno tracks that chant “E” over and over.
Not quite contrarily, the latter perspective finds: sloppily inebriated dancers in good spirits, a mix of disco, from unidentified classics to Eddie C’s more recent “My Woman (PBR Streetgang Remix),” and a range of sounds that unfold like a visceral storybook.
Over the course of four hours, the room ripened into a realm of electric anticipation as to where Harvey’s journey would go. Even when a track’s energy was mellow, his selection was still wild, sometimes sounding like a 70s slow dance or Arabian sand-swept psych rock.
Harvey manipulated the dance floor, let tracks play out to silence (compare this to DJs who mix in a new song every three minutes), and would purposely clear it out, but when he wanted it on, it was – more or less – fucking on.
At one point, An-i’s massively industrial “Kino-i” crumpled up the dance floor, piercing and paralyzing, before slipping straight into a most delicate, pearly house track.
The party was still teeming come four in the morning and it was clear how dedicated Harvey’s fan base is. As performance goes, those who give all usually get the most in return.
Harvey got more eclectic, rare and echoed out an unraveling cosmic climax with closed eyes and head nods. At the end, he looked up with a smile to a wall of applause. We were already standing, but it was certainly an ovation.
Then, of course, he banged out one last disco track, just for fun.
[Photo courtesy of DJ Harvey]