Friday night was not the euphoric dance-music moment I’d been hoping for. Disclosure meant way too much to me to enjoy a sold-out Union Transfer show that, as far as I’m concerned, veered way too far into the pop culture-suck of throbbing EDM beat drops and dramatic build-ups conjured explicitly for bros (and their girlbros) to pump their arms in the air. I just loved last year’s Settle so much, but what I should’ve anticipated is that literally zero of the album’s impressive list of guests would be in-house, and we were supposed to be pleased with a light show-crafted face that mouthed the words to songs made remarkable by greats like Jessie Ware and Sam Smith.
I arrived just in time and, despite a surprise photo pass, was daunted by the notion of pushing through a sea of dudes that averaged 6’1” and 190 pounds. And it was very white—decidedly white-washed and, to be brutally honest, not very queer-friendly. Meanwhile, people of color and women and LGBT folks have been drawing inspiration from Disclosure’s output for ages, but maybe the bros beat em’ to the (digital) box office. I try not to let these revelations ruin my experience, but the joys of attendance didn’t really hit me over the head—and they did—until the last third of the show, when they cranked out “White Noise,” “Help Me Lose My Mind” and “Latch.” It left me hungry for more authentic dance-music dancefloors where there’d be a little more color and character.
So, I called Drew Kramer from Les Professionnels to ask him to both help me understand Disclosure’s evolution into mass-consumed EDM territory and guide me towards the lesser-known opportunities that’ll present themselves over the next few weeks.
“These guys [Guy and Howard Lawrence] kind of went right down the middle and made something with a classic sound,” Kramer explained from Margate. “They have talented vocalists; they have a lot of classic sides with synthesizers that people have been using since the ‘80s, like everyone from Talking Heads to Frankie Knuckles, even when alt music [see: the ‘90s] was popular.”
Kramer made it clear that it pretty much all goes back to Daft Punk. “Basically in the ‘90s, when people were into Nirvana, that’s when Daft Punk started, and, as we know, 20 years later, it’s finally hit,” he explained. “That helped artists like Disclosure because people are getting into dance music now.”
His Les Professionnels, which also includes Chris Schor and Daniel Reizes on its roster, specializes in house, disco and electronic dance music. But their residency at The Trestle betrays that “EDM” catch phrase. Take, for instance, their upcoming set this Sat., June 14, where they’ll focus purely on early, classic disco. “I can’t play a record that’s after 1984,” laughs Kramer. “The owners will find out if I play something off of Random Access Memories.” The party’s called “Summer of Summer.” And we’ll be there.
They’ll be at Firefly on June 19; they’re opening for the Knocks on Thursday at Underground Arts, and Kramer hinted at a big announcement that’ll blow people’s socks off later this summer. Someone big.
Kramer & Co. have big music dealings happening, too, including signing with Nurvous Records (with the single “Pure Love”) and working on a new record. They’re eager to make a name for themselves in their city, where an already-rich dance-music culture’s been one of our prides and joys since the days of Gamble and Huff’s supreme reign. “What we’re looking to do with Les Professionnels is spread love and positivity with dance music. In layman’s terms, people associate EDM with dance music, but it’s really a diverse entity. And we’re really excited to be a part of that as Philadelphians.”
In the meantime, here’s a slew of upcoming live shows to keep tabs on: Last week, I got turned on to Poolside, whose delightfully L.A. countenance is deliciously summery and at the front of their sound on the outstanding “Pacific Standard Time.” They’re at the Dolphin June 20. Then there’s Will Holland, a.k.a. Quantic, whose tropical residency in Colombia has inspired outstanding Latin-tinged funk and soul. He’ll pack Union Transfer on the 12th. Morgan’s Pier will be moving the masses on the 19th and 20th, too, with the legendary local King Britt and Tiga appearing as part of Dave P.’s Making Time, respectively.
Of course, we already have two dance-music masterpieces to enjoy in our backyards all summer in the form of Hercules & Love Affair’s “Feast of the Broken Heart.” You’re only in luck of catching an Andy Butler DJ set if you find yourself in Dallas, St. Louis, Mexico, Europe or Canada this summer. The Röyksopp and Robyn Do It Again tour will be slightly more accessible, with stops nearby in New York (Aug. 20) and Boston (Aug. 22), but we won’t hold it against them for ignoring us.
Of course, you can visit Kramer and his buds for low-key whiskey and beers over their inspired disco-reverence every Saturday night at the Trestle while you test the waters with visitors like Quantic and Poolside. Just get out there. And dance.
Bill Chenevert is PW’s senior music writer. Follow him on Twitter @billchenevert.
A$AP Ferg is the Mob’s man of honor