Digitalism at Grand Central Miami, June 16

Photo by Alex Broadwell
See the full 38-photo slideshow of Digitalism at Grand Central -- plus Crossfade's interview with Digitalism about new DJ-Kicks album.

Grand Central, Miami
Saturday, June 16

Better Than: Being at Pawn Shop or Studio A.

If you went to parties like Revolver, Poplife, and Spiderpussy during the mid-2000s, you are probably familiar with Digitalism. Along with Justice, MSTRKRFT, and a slew of other electro-house and dance-rock acts, they seemed to take what everyone considered to be electronic dance music and turn it on its head. It was edgier, harder, and, most importantly, fun.

Photo by Alex Broadwell

Justice, of course, went on to become icons of the genre, still headlining major music festivals today -- including an appearance at this year's Ultra Music Festival. And while Digitalism is still pushing plenty of dancefloor-ready tunes, they never became EDM deities like Justice. And what a shame that is.

If Digitalism is anything, it's consistent. They came out of the gates strong with debut Idealism, and followed it up with another stellar effort, I Love You Dude. Now they're about to drop a DJ-Kicks compilation and they've still got plenty of know-how to keep partygoers dancing. Same can't be said for Justice's amazing debut, Cross, and lackluster follow-up Audio, Video, Disco.

Photo by Alex Broadwell

While Saturday's appearance at Grand Central was unfortunately a DJ set (make sure you add "see Digitalism live" to your bucket list), Jence and Isi gave the crowd a set that perfectly summed up the last 12 years of dance music. It was hard. It was danceable. It had house music. It had electro. It was fucking great.

We were surprised by the crowd's reaction to the duo's earliest hits "Idealistic" and "Zdarlight" (see "Things Music Snobs Say") mainly because the crowd was young, and most must've been in middle school when these tracks bubbled up from the underground.

Photo by Alex Broadwell

But Digitalism kept it fresh by playing new stuff off the DJ-Kicks compilation (and, so far, unavailable elsewhere) including "A New Drug" and "Simply Dead." The former is a scuzzy electro effort that reminded us a bit of Daft Punk's "Robot Rock."

Speaking of Daft Punk, Digitalism knows no electro-house set is complete without a track from the robotic duo. Cue in "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger," the sleeper track from 2001's Discovery that thanks to Kanye West has become a party cliché at this point. But we were enjoying the flashbacks to our early 20s too much to care.

Photo by Alex Broadwell

Another oddball was Zombie Nation's "Kernkraft 400." Some of us wondered if Digitalism played it as a sort of wink and nudge to our own "Miami Zombie." We wanted to ask the duo if that was the case once their set was over, but never got the chance.

Once Jence and Isi dropped their biggest hit, the indie-rocktastic "Pogo," we were sure the night was over, but we were told the venue asked them if they wanted to call it quits and they said, "Hell no!" So the music kept on.

Photo by Alex Broadwell

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I want to say a snobby thing like "I was listening to Digitalism before they were cool" but I'll refrain.

The Crowd: Definitely too young to have been of age to have attended Miami's slew of indie-dance parties that popped up at the turn of the century and where electro-house took hold.

Overheard in the Crowd: "We should do a Zombie Nation remix with Lil Jon screaming 'Eat your fucking face off!' as the hook."

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Location Info


Grand Central

697 N. Miami Ave., Miami, FL

Category: Music

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i admitted that i thought i was being too harsh on digitalism but that is only because i think they are incredible djs with enormous talent and i think they are better than what they played last weekend.  maybe calling them guetta-esque was a bitch move.  but i only meant that because they were just coasting down the edm highway instead of hauling ass in the hov lane.  it's just gotten to the point for me where nostalgia can't keep me going forever. i go to see djs now that seemed epic at the time (and they were) but now, in order to stay relevant, they have changed their prerogative and i can't help but be saddened by this a little. i'm not blaming them... if i were in their shoes i may do the same thing.  but, to feel like someone's not trying at all, when you know they have the talent, the taste, and the ability to, is just nerve-wrecking.  how many djs do you see play from a playlist now instead of mixing live? how many musicians do you see now play "dj sets" instead of with any instruments at all? it's upsetting to me to see these djs who i admire just kind of cruise control their sets that we are still paying money to see. usually, i can see this coming from a mile away from certain djs.  but, as i mentioned previously, i have seen digitalism multiples times before and it was awesome. so, i did not go to grand central expecting them to just be coasting through their set.  i realize times have changed.  i have, they have, we all have.  and it's not the same anymore.  but it still could be.  their set at no sugar added this year at nikki beach was much, much better.  i know they still have it in them.  i just wanted to see it last saturday. 

Jose D. Duran
Jose D. Duran

Jade: I agree with the heart-hand gesture... which I completely forgot until now (wish I would have mentioned it!!!) and it did make it cringe. (If fact I was joking around about it with everyone around me.) BUT the club was packed the entire time during their set. It was entertaining even if it was all over the place, which I didn't mind -- in fact I get bored when it sounds like the DJ has been playing the same thing for the last 45 minutes (but that's just my prefrence and to each his own). But you gotta realize that the were there to promote the DJ-Kicks release, which the set kinda mirrored. Anyway, I'll admit nostalgia had me going all night, but I sort of admitted that in my review, no? Also, David Guetta-esque? I think you are being too harsh. Definitely never felt like it went into that terroritory for me. Was it the best DJ set I've heard? No. Claude VonStroke at Pickle like two years ago still takes the cake for me.


what concert were you at?  i was at grand central and i saw digitalism and i am a huge fan (and have been for a very long time) and i have also seen them play live before and i have to say i was disappointed.  their set was all over the place.  it was an emotional rollercoaster... but not the good kind.  when they played zombie nation, i cringed with the people around me. it was a full-blown retard party (as in, a party for retards).  and as for playing daft punk... i thought they kind of threw it in there to win the crowd back after sucking so bad. people were like half-ass dancing and the kids in there were so young they didn't even know who digitalism was. i was surprised to see that it was so crowded, actually.  the week before, munchi had played to a much smaller and more energetic crowd.  i was thrown off by this performance because digitalism to me had been so.... necessary in all these years of being an edm fan.  it wasn't the miami showdown i was looking for.  when they started that david guetta-esque dancing (and tiesto hand-heart shape nonsense) instead of mixing, i realized why each transition was so up and down.  they looked down at the crowd and saw that these kids had come to dance no matter what they played so they just kind of played one song and then another song, trying to figure out which the crowd liked best. i realize that's part of a dj's job but it was like they weren't even trying.  it was like they were hungover and just showed up to get paid.   i have previously thought they were incredible.  mind-blowing, even.  but last saturday, i have to admit that i walked out before the end of their set because i didn't even want to hear the rest of it.  at the time, i felt overly-critical and possibly even like a jaded club kid.  after discussing the set with my 2 good friends (who both heartily agreed that it wasn't what we had wanted or expected at all), i got over that notion of being too harsh and decided that it wasn't me... it was them.

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