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Show Review: Justice at Sonar, Baltimore MD, take two…

Baltimore tried its hardest to become Ibiza or Miami with last night’s Justice show. Walking into the show mid-set for DJ Mehdi (pictured right), we saw a densely-packed main room with arms flailing high above heads in the flicker of stage lights and strobes, bass-heavy beats pounding you into the ground. I had to double-check the date to make sure I wasn’t at a Buzz event in now-defunct DC nightclub Nation circa 2000. Mehdi established what would be the theme of excellence for the night: flow.

Flow is normally used when referring to a skilled lyricist, especially rappers and hip-hop artists. But I use it to describe the progression and pacing of the music, not lyrics. And Mehdi knows how to make song transitions flow. But that’s about it. He did a little mixing/EQ work to drop the bass out a few times to mix things up, but by and large, he transitioned tracks and let them play, undisturbed. His skill in transitioning songs was phenomenally smooth and some of the best I’ve ever heard. But that only makes him an excellent dance night DJ, not an excellent DJ. Still, as Bez quoted me, I hope the Taxlo kids take note. Their inter-song flow has been less-than-stellar in the past year or so.

By contrast, Justice’s entire set flowed as one big river of carnal goodness (probably a variety of red wine). Justice truly did blow the roof off Sonar, playing a phenomenal set with few words exchanged. None were needed. The flow took care of everything, smooth, steady, excellent pacing. Like a skilled lover, Justice manipulates the crowd with musical fingers and lips, working every trick they had and driving the crowd mad. Probably the most effective technique was interspersing brief samples of the upcoming song at the end of each preceding one. This built some phenomenal tension and anticipation which was only heightened by the prolonged waits for the distinctive bass lines to kick in for tracks like set-and-album opener “Genesis.” But the highlight of the night, for me, was the unexpected sampling of Metallica track “Master of Puppets.” Fantastic; how you can visualize a dance-able beat in that song is beyond me, but leave it to the Parisians to do it. Kudos.

Copious sampling of “We are your friends” threatened to become tiresome, but that’s about the only nit-picking critique I can give. Even that was done so tastefully and effectively that it didn’t really grow old, even after 4-6 call-and-returns. Justice sure do know how to show a guy a good time.

Photo credit: Josh Sisk (Flickr)

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2 Responses to “Show Review: Justice at Sonar, Baltimore MD, take two…”

  1. Laura Koontz says:

    How was the after party? That is what I’m most disappointed about not going to.

  2. joshsisk says:

    afterparty picssss. it was a great time! everyone was already pumped up from the main show so it was 0-60 in like 1 song.

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