Under Review

The Juan MacLean

Richard’s on Richards September 9

Review By Simon Foreman


Richard’s never looked so huge. It was 9:30 p.m., and there were more staff than customers in the place. Much of the upper section was blocked off by stools, and only two of the bars were staffed. Sure, it allowed time to admire the wood grain of the normally packed dance floor, or watch the mildly confusing images on the BarNet.tv screens, but it was hardly a good omen for DFA stalwarts the Juan MacLean. Thankfully, the final turnout was enough to half-fill the floor (at around 70 or 80 bodies), but still, the mighty Juan deserved better.

With Less Than Human, the last full-length release, hit shelves in mid-2005, interest in the group has been slow to rebuild over the last few months, as the lacklustre showing at Dick’s plainly demonstrated. But people obviously don’t know what they were missing.

The drummer pumped out deep, steady beats; another guy worked some vintage synth sounds; MacLean himself worked keys and a theremin (!) with an expert touch; and LCD Soundsystem’s Nancy Whang added vocal colour to the mix. When all four members going full-blast—which happened a lot of the time, particularly during the shout-along chorus of “Give Me Every Little Thing”—the party was just waiting to break out, if only the crowd had been big enough to make it happen.

Cuts from Less Than Human and earlier singles were interspersed with newer material, and each song transformed into a fireball of New York-style dancing energy. The appropriately named disco-house epic “Happy House”—12 minutes long in recorded form but stretching much longer in a live setting—truly launched the show into space. The devoted fans in attendance were left with the firm feeling they had made the right choice that evening.

[ed. Low attendance at the show may have been due to the fact that the last three shows Juan MacLean booked in Vancouver were cancelled.]