As cliché as it sounds, it’s far better to go out in a blaze of glory than with a whimper. Such a statement describes Danny Tenaglia’s Birthday Bash and Vinyl Reunion at Pacha NYC on April 28. Actually, to be more accurate, Tenaglia’s set of organic techno also took up half of April 29.
For those needing some background, less than two weeks ago, Tenaglia announced he is “resigning” from DJing and, at the time, mentioned his Pacha NYC gig would be his last until further notice. Multiple factors pushed the long-time DJ and producer to publish that statement on Facebook. Leaving behind a carry-on bag on a flight from Montreal was the final push, but Tenaglia was also no longer able to pay for his New York residence and wanted to settle down from spending so much time on the road. The sudden statement was a shock to many, and since that point, Tenaglia stated he would fulfill all engagements through the end of May.
The Pacha NYC show, however, is his only non-festival gig and essentially served as a tribute to his appreciation of the city and former Vinyl club residency. DJ Rob Sperte – doing an organic techno set that seamlessly integrated with Tenaglia’s around 2 a.m. – and DJ Paul Casella, who inspired Tenaglia to get behind the turntables, were both present. By the time he took the stage, the crowd was chanting, and all were rapt with his presence. But, just a half-hour into his set, he announced that his Birthday Bash is doubling as a press conference.
During the nearly 10 hours on stage (from 2 a.m. until noon), Tenaglia echoed many of the sentiments expressed already on his Facebook page. During the gig, he told the audience:
• “This is the beginning”
• Comparing his career to being in the service and needing a break
• “This isn’t the end; this is the beginning”
• “I never said I’m going to stop.”
So, while the Birthday Bash was essentially Tenaglia’s signing off (for the time being) gig, he reiterated more music is coming.
But, informal press conference aside, how was the music? First off, Tenaglia announced that the performance would be no two-hour festival set, and as a result, he took a far more experimental approach. Minimalist sounds transitioned from one beat pattern to the next, with occasional synths, vocals, or sirens adding variety.
On the hand, doing a nearly 10-hour set of minimalist techno is indulgent. In the present, listeners expect some melody or greater variation, rather than the ebb and flow between beats and rhythms that characterized Tenaglia’s set. On the other, this producer has been in the game for over 30 years, and he brings innovation and precision to the table, no matter if he’s doing a spontaneous setlist of techno beats or carefully putting together a house track. Saturday was no exception. Even with the barebones, almost primitive quality of stripped-down rhythm, Tenaglia’s set was never sloppy and has enough evolving oomph to keep the crowd moving.
Saturday’s Pacha show is not Tenaglia’s last performance. Before the month is over, he is joining Carl Cox at the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas and is one of the acts at the Detroit Electronic Music Festival.