Although you’d be hard-pressed to find venues in the city more achingly modern than the two housed in the LA Live Complex, the 1920s and 1930s were alive and kicking at The Novo on Saturday night. The modernity of seductive ambient LED lighting fading seamlessly from blue to purple contrasted starkly with the flapper girls and suspendered gents rocking their best newsboy caps. But for how mismatched the whole scene might have appeared at first glance, it was perfectly fitting given the night’s billing.
Marcus Füreder, better known as Parov Stelar, is considered by many to be a pioneering force in the popularization of electro swing. For the uninitiated, the electro swing genre is exactly what its name implies: an unlikely blend of electrohouse basslines and 1930s-inspired swing in all its brash, brassy glory.
Füreder has been doling out his flavor of the genre since the early 2000s, becoming one of the most popular electronic producers in his native Austria along the way. Since then, he’s assembled a sizable crew of instrumentalists for his live shows, which included both weekends of Coachella 2016 and last Saturday’s soiree at The Novo.
An excellent opening set from Stelartronic & Anduze kicked off the night. A collaborative effort that has Füreder acting as producer alongside LA-based soul singer Anduze, it was the latter who took the stage accompanied by a team of backing musicians. With his rich voice and slick swagger, Anduze was utterly magnetic on stage and seemingly effortlessly charmed a room full of mostly unfamiliar listeners from the get-go. A worthy warm-up for the utter madness that would soon follow.
The raw enthusiasm the crowd was able to muster up for Parov Stelar’s performance was truly on another level. In all my years of mild tinitus-inducing show going, this was without a doubt one of the best LA crowds I’ve ever encountered. No texting, no extended conversation, no standing around looking fabulously bored.
Instead, once Füreder and his accompanying band members took the stage, the audience remained thoroughly engrossed until the band had finished, with only the occasional Snapchatter recording short snippets of the set to share with all of his/her friends who had the misfortune of missing out on the night’s festivities. You’d expect a crowd favorite like “Catgroove” to get a noticeably huge response, but the energy in the venue never seemed to waver regardless of which song was being played.
The band on stage held their own against an utterly ravenous crowd. Flashy frontwoman Cleo Panther was likely intended to be the focal point of the show with her velvety vocals and sultry shimmy, but the blaring trumpet-trombone-saxophone trio was equally difficult to ignore, as was Parov Stelar bassist Michael Wittner’s fast-fingered solo during “Josephine (1930 Version).”
The least conspicuous person on stage was Füreder himself, who seemed perfectly content to be spearheading the action behind his decks. They all worked together marvelously to craft what has to be one of the most energetic performances I’ve caught in my lifetime. This is no small feat.
Admittedly there where more than handful of songs I would have loved to hear performed live. Despite being written on the setlist, “Libella Swing” was cut, and I was a little puzzled to find that “Hooked On You,” the lead single off Füreder’s latest release, was omitted from the setlist altogether.
That said, the only suggestion I would have to rectify these issues would be to make the set longer because there’s simply nothing about that performance that I would want to edit out. Given how exuberantly the vintage-attired attendees were dancing from start to finish, I suspect that’s a shared sentiment.
Despite the fact that I had just come back from the first weekend of Coachella, I found myself smiling more broadly and sweating more profusely at The Novo than I can recall in recent memory. Parov Stelar and Co. were memorably explosive, and I really have nothing other than effusive praise to offer them. As my friend Kevin observed, “You could record any two minutes from that show and send it to someone, and the response you’d get back would be, ‘I want to be there.'”
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