The Westcott Theater in Syracuse, NY has been a go-to venue for Syracuse University students and area residents for years. Recently, the Westcott has offered an eclectic blend of bookings that span across many different music styles and genres. This particular night was no exception to this relatively new trend, as Oregon-based producer Douglas Apping took the stage with live violinist Ilya Goldberg under the moniker of Emancipator.
The crowd was primed well by openers Beatkid, Tor and Eliot Lipp, who offered fast-paced infectious dance grooves that drew from several subgenres of electronic dance music like House, Drum n Bass, and Dubstep. I had broken a sweat and felt loosened up by the end of Eliot Lipp’s set, anxiously waiting to see what Emancipator would bring next. As Emancipator began their set, the overall vibe of the crowd seemed to change from raging craziness to a slower, more relaxed feel. Emancipator’s advanced lighting rig grabbed my attention right away. The rig included thirteen LED lit triangles that towered over the two artists. It was obvious that the lights were programmed for each song, as they seamlessly changed with each subtle transition in the music.
Emancipator seemed to build in the layers in each track carefully, which allowed the set to take on a free-form. Emancipator barely used any distinct riffs from any of their albums, but did include brief teases of “Jet Stream” and “Kamakura” from their latest album Safe In The Steep Cliffs. Douglas and Ilya seemed to be in a trance, lost in their own musical take on down-tempo, trip-hop grooves.
The performance was especially enjoyable and unique because the music warranted multiple potential responses. One could dance to it, just stand and relax to it or immerse one’s mind in the detail and complexity of it. An even blend of these types of expressions was apparent in the audience and I was eagerly sampling each one. This show presented me with three things that I look for in a live music experience: a danceable groove, some musical complexity to ponder and a chill crowd to experience it with.